Soldier and Pirate
Mary was born England. her widowed mother had moved to the country with Mary's young brother so that her in-laws would not know that she was pregnant. Mary and her mother returned to London when she was aged 4yo in the hopes that her mother's in-laws might provide for them - for this deception to work, Mary was disguised as a boy, or rather, was posing as her dead brother. By the age of 13yo, Mary and her mother were forced to fend for themselves, and soon found employment as a boy-servant to a French Lady.
Mary then gained employment aboard a ship, remaining there until she headed for Flanders and joined the armed cadet in the foot-regiment. Mary acquitted herself bravely in the Spanish war of Succession (1701-1704) but was unable to gain a commission. She quit the infantry and joined the horse-regiment, gaining the esteem of her fellow officers. But Mary fell in love with handsome Fleming and grew negligent in duties and in service till her fellow troopers considered her to be mad - remember she was supposed to be a man. Mary would not allow herself to become his mistress - she was a modest, reserved young lady - so they married, easily obtaining their discharge and set up an eating-house "Three Horseshoes" near the castle of Breda.
They did good trade via fellow troopers. But then Mary's husband died, and the Peace of Ryswick was concluded and trade slowly vanished. Once again, Mary was forced to don men's clothing, She went to Holland and re-enlisted in the infantry, but there was little work for a soldier so she deserted at end of war. Mary then signed aboard merchantman bound for West Indies. When the ship was attacked by pirates, Mary joined them and soon settled in New Provedence Island. Mary signed the King's pardon, but that didn't last, and when money grew short she joined a group of privateers setting out against the Spanish. The crew mutinied, she among them. Though she abhorred piracy, she found it a useful way to make a quick buck. For all intents and purposes she was still a man and no-one thought any different till a rather immodest Anne Bonney took a fancy to her. Anne was disappointed to find that her handsome fellow was another woman - the gallant but jealous Captain Rackman had threatened to cut the throat of Anne's new lover so he had to be let in on the secret.
However, it was not long before love once again penetrated her disguise. From among the ships taken, many craftsmen were taken into service by the pirates, and it was one of these craftsmen that she fell for in a big way and soon revealed herself to him. This young fellow had quarreled with another pirate and was forced to meet and fight him according to the pirate code. Mary was afraid that he might be killed so she also quarreled with the same pirate, met him prior to her lover's appointment and fought him with sword and pistol, killing him. Then Mary entered into a sort of marriage agreement with her man. It was a short-lived marriage as Mary and the other pirates soon captured, imprisoned and brought to trial (1720). Her husband, whom she refused to identify, was acquitted for he was essentially an honest man with no previous piratical tendancies. Her fellow pirates, on the other hand, dropped her right in it, saying how pleasurable and rewarding she had said she found piracy. Mary was found guilty and given the death sentance. But luck was with her, and Mary was given a reprive from execution when she was found to be pregnant. Shortly after her trial, she succumbed to a violent fever and miscarried, dying in prison.
~~~ Melisende (first pub: 1998 Women of History)