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Mary Read
Mary Read (1690-April 1721), also known as James Kidd or Mark Read, was a female pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy. Born in England, Read was best known for her cross-dressing during her piratical career from 1708 to 1721, disguising herself as "William Kidd's bastard son James". Read and Anne Bonny both served under the famed pirate Jack Rackham during the 1710s, and Bonny revealed Read's gender to prevent Rackham - who suspected "Kidd" and Read of having a relationship - from becoming jealous. In 1721, Bonny, Rackham, and Read were captured by the British, and Bonny and Read were both granted a stay of execution due to their pregnancy, while Rackham was hanged. Read later died of illness due to the unsanitary conditions in her Kingston, Jamaica jail cell.

Biography

Early life

Military service

James Kidd

Read disguised as a man

Mary Read was born in England, the daughter of the widow of a Royal Navy sea captain. After the death of her older brother Mark Read, Mary was forced to pretend to be a boy by her mother, who wanted for Read's paternal grandmother to continue financially assisting the family. Read found work as a foot-boy and later found employment on a ship, and Read - disguised as "Mark Kidd" - joined the military and fought in the War of the Spanish Succession. Read married a Flemish soldier, but the soldier died young. When there was no more room for advancement in the British Army, Read decided to join the Royal Navy, and her ship was later taken by pirates. Read was forced to become a pirate, and she became known as "James Kidd", the "bastard son of William Kidd".

Pirating career

James Kidd became a well-known pirate in Nassau in the Bahamas, and he built a reputation for himself due to claiming that he was William Kidd's son. Kidd befriended pirate Edward Kenway, and he secretly joined the Hashshashin order after meeting assassin mentor Ah Tabai in Tulum, Mexico. In 1715, Kenway and Kidd raided one of Peter Beckford's plantations on Andreas Island, building a friendly camaraderie.

Bonny and Read trial

Anne Bonny and Mary Read on trial in Jamaica, 1721

In 1716, Kidd confirmed his suspicions about Kenway's abilities when Kenway solved a Mayan stelae puzzle, and Kidd revealed that he was a member of the Hashshashin. Kidd convinced Kenway to warn the Hashshashin of the Templar Order's plans to attack their bureaus across the Caribbean, and he convinced Kenway to assassinate several Templar agents due to the financial gain that Kenway could expect. Kidd and Kenway helped to defend Tulum from a British assault in 1716, and Kidd - working for the Assassins - and Kenway - motivated by self-gain - worked together to find "the Sage" Bartholomew Roberts and to fight against the Templars. The two occasionally argued due to Kenway's refusal to ignore the gold and join the Assassins, but they worked together several times; in April 1717, Read revealed her true gender to Kenway after taking off her disguise to distract the guards at the Templar Laurens Prins' Kingston estate. 

Rackham's crew and death

Mary Read death

Read's death

While Kenway was searching for Roberts, Read bonded with Anne Bonny, a Nassau barmaid, and the two became close friends. They both joined Jack Rackham's crew, with Read putting on the persona of "James Kidd" to join Rackham's crew. Bonny revealed Read's gender to Rackham after Rackham began to become jealous about the friendship between "James Kidd" and Bonny, defusing the situation. In October 1720, Read, Bonny, and an unknown man were the only people sober enough to fight when a Royal Navy warship sent by Governor Nicholas Lawes attacked Rackham's ship, and Read, Rackham, Bonny, and several other pirates were taken prisoner. Rackham was hanged for piracy, but Read and Bonny's executions were stayed due to their pregnancies. Read gave birth in a disgusting jail cell in Kingston, and she became ill from the experience. She died in April 1721 as Kenway, Bonny, and a few other pirates escaped from the jail, and the sickly Read passed away in Kenway's arms before she could leave the prison building. Her body was carried to the escape rowboat by Kenway, and she was buried in the traditional Assassin fashion.

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