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Wild Women not Wanted

Feb. 17, 2021


In South Devon, the Bigbury Parish council in Burgh Island have unanimously rejected a plan to celebrate two 18th Century pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read in a statue. Detractors from the statue say that "a tribute to the local pilchard industry or a fisherman's wife looking out to sea" would be more appropriate. The statue, by sculptor Amanda Cotton, celebrates the pair who broke gender boundaries. Dr Rebecca Simon, an expert on the history of piracy, said they were exceptional for their time. "Seafarers were almost always men in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries because women were not generally even allowed on ships; they were thought to be bad luck and not up to the physical challenges. These two were inseparable and they were most likely lovers,"

image from cover of The Trial of Anne Bonny and  Mary Read by Tamara J Eastman & Constance Bond

Anne Bonny was born in Ireland joined her lover's - Captain Calico Jack's - crew and became a pirate in the Caribbean. Mary Read was passed off as a boy by her mother and spent most of her life pretending to be a man, but eventually she was discovered and had to get married. After the death of her husband Mary went on a voyage and the ship was captured by pirates. Given the choice of dying or joining the pirate's crew, she chose the latter. As a pirate, Mary encountered Anne Bonny and they became friends and worked together on Captain Jack's ship. Bonny and Read were both eventually captured and sentenced to death in Jamaica, although their sentences are thought to have been stayed until they gave birth. 

Giles Fuchs, who owns the island, is reported as saying that he thought the 2.5m (8.2ft) tall statue on the island's rocky shoreline was a brilliant idea and it seemed like a no-brainer because the island was notorious for smuggling and has its own Pirates Day.