When we think of pirates we often picture the (male) captain of a crew of thieves sailing the oceans in search of victims to plunder. The captain is an imposing man, large in stature, and bold in manner. He is often clever, usually fearless and many times a man to be feared by those who serve him. This is not a job you would think would be desirable to the average woman in the days when pirates ruled the seas. However, you might be surprised. Female pirates did make a mark in the world, and there are many who were just as ruthless and hard-hearted as their male counterparts. Some commanded crews that numbered in the tens of thousands and those crews were just as devoted as were the crews on the pirate ships run by men.
In the 1300′s, there was a french woman, Jeanne-Louise de Belleville, who’s husband was executed and in revenge she went out of her way to hunt down ships of French origin. She was know for being fearless and brave and she earned the nickname, “The Lioness of Brittany”.
Perhaps you have heard the legends of the Irish pirate in the 1500′s by the name of Grace O’Malley who commanded a fleet of ships that roamed the waters off of West Ireland. When she was young, she wanted nothing more than to join her seafaring father, but was scoffed at by her family. The story goes that she was so frustrated that she cut off all her hair and dressed as a boy to prove her mettle. She was nicknamed “Bald Grace” after that stunt and eventually, her father relented and allowed her to go to sea with him.
There is another legend told of the fiery red-headed lady pirate who sailed the Caribbean waters and was known as “Back From The Dead Red”. Her real name was Jacquotte Delahaye, and she earned her nickname because, in order to make herself over as a pirate, she faked her own death. Usually she dressed as a man, but when she felt like it, she returned from the “dead” as herself. She originally took to the seas in search of gold because her family had all died or otherwise disappeared from her life ad she had no alternative means of supporting herself.
The most famous female pirate has to be Anne Bonny who also sailed in Caribbean waters. She worked with her lover and best girlfriend and was know to be an excellent fighter and could drink rum with the best of them. She also dressed as a man in order to blend in with the rest of her lover’s crew. He was the also famous pirate by the name of “Calico Jack” Rackham. Along with her best friend, Mary Read, they became legendary for their conquests.
In the 1700′s, the first known American female pirate, Rachel Wall, earned her own reputation as a fearless pirate and fighter. She served in the Revolutionary War as a privateer and then took to the seas to make her fortune. Unfortunately for her, the short-lived career came to an end when she was caught and sentenced to death by hanging.
Early in the 19th century, the Chinese female pirates were making names for themselves. There was the famous Ching Shih who’s crew numbered about 80,000 and their fleet consisted of approximately 1800 ships. In the 1930′s, Huang P’ei-mei was a famous female pirate who was in control of over 50,000 pirates.
One of the most recent pirates of modern times was a Chinese smuggler of humans who helped thousands of her fellow countrymen successfully escape to Europe and the United States. Cheng Chui is currently serving a 35 year sentence after she was caught in Hong Kong in 2000 and extradited back to the US to serve her sentence at a prison in Connecticut. She is scheduled for release in 2040.
If you have always wanted to dress up as an authentic lady pirate, for that special party or pirate-themed Renaissance Faire, now you know that their uniform, just like their adventurous lives at sea, were pretty much the same as the men. When it comes to the most authentic pirate clothing, that will bring out the fearsome lady pirate in you, visit us today!