When you think of pirates, you probably picture men. barbus ,  warrior ‘s heads  and  peg legs   Most pirates have names like Blackbeard, Barbarossa or Calico Jack. But although most pirates are men, there are also women who plunder the seas! Some of them are just as ruthless and feared as the men…

Young scoundrel of the oceans, welcome aboard! As skulls fanatics on the Skull World, we must bring you a portrait of the  most famous pirate   wives in history to fulfill our darkest desires.. ☠️

In this article, we look together at the history of women in  ships  plundering the world’s oceans. If they really existed, how did that happen? And most importantly, we’re going to bring you a list of 15 of them and their respective portraits. If you have read this article, you will know exactly how to become a modern day female pirate! Let’s start right away.

History of the Pirate Wives

Hardly any other historical figure stimulates the imagination as much as pirates. The  rhum , the  parrot  -talking, big hats and coats, the  treasures , all lead to absolutely brilliant dramatic and theatrical narratives. Whether it’s the Moroccan pirate queen Sayyida al-Hurrah (who terrorized the Mediterranean in the mid-1500s) or Lady Mary Killigrew, Queen Elizabeth I’s sea dog, women in particular don’t miss out when it comes to the story of the pirates goes…

So far, history has largely ignored these warrior women. These women sailed alongside—and sometimes at the helm—of the tall male pirates. They came from all parts of the world, but had one thing in common: a  desire for freedom.  Whether or not these women lived as these stories were told is relatively unimportant. The idea is of course to make us dream, but not only that! Identifying with these barbaric women gives us the strength that some of them possessed. The power to fight to gain our freedom. 

Story Pirate Woman

Those legendary pirate wives

One of the fascinating aspects of the law of the sea is that it is almost entirely self-contained. To put it more simply: At sea: All laws change! Crimes committed on cruise ships are treated differently than crimes committed on land. The notion that the sea is a  place of opportunity without limits  is alluring. There is an enormous feeling of freedom. It was attractive to women because they could completely shed the oppressive roles that had been imposed on them in their own society. They could build a new life for themselves. 👊

For example, Cheng I Sao, who commanded a fleet larger than many male pirates of his time. Some women commanded male pirates and were amazingly successful. This is where the sense of freedom offers its full meaning. With the wind in their hair, nothing could happen to these legendary female pirates.

legendary pirate woman

Pirate women’s dresses

Contrary to what one might assume, many of them were dressed as women. They were not disguised as men to enforce their commandments. Grace O’Malley (a 16th-century Irish pirate) gave birth to her youngest son on a pirate ship . And that perfectly represents the ideology of these warrior women… Having a sword in one hand and a baby in the other. ⚔️

The legends even say that some of these pirate women were very pretty. After all, a commander doesn’t always have to get his hands dirty. Behind the wheel, hair blowing in the wind… The picture makes us dream!

Now let’s get started with our top 15 most famous female pirates in the history of the oceans.

beautiful pirate woman

15) Sadie Farrell (The Goat)

Sadie Farrell, a 19th-century American pirate, gave herself the unusual nickname “the Goat.” Sadie has earned a reputation as  a merciless attacker  by beating her victims with full force. It is said that she was expelled from Manhattan when a woman named Gallus Mag got into an argument with her and bit off her ear in the process. 👂

Sadie and her crew became pirates, scouring the Hudson and Harlem rivers in search of loot. She led raids on farms and  fancy mansions  that line the banks of the river, sometimes kidnapping people for ransom.

According to legend, she bought her own ear from her enemy and put it in a locket that she wore around her neck for the rest of her life.

sadie farell

14) Queen Teuta of Illyria

One of the first female pirates was actually a “Pirate Queen”. After the death of her husband Agron in 231 BC. Teuta of Illyria became queen because her stepson Pinnes was too young to rule. During her four-year reign over the Ardiaei tribe in what is now the Western Balkans, Teuta  encouraged piracy  as a means of fighting her enemies. This meant not only the plundering of Roman ships, but also the capture of their captains. ⛓

Its pirates spread from the Adriatic to the Ionian Sea, terrorizing the trade route to Greece and Italy. While Teuta’s seafarers brought great wealth and power to his kingdom, they also brought him great enemies.

The Romans sent representatives to Teuta for a diplomatic meeting. She scoffed at their pleadings and insisted that her tribe considered piracy part of legitimate trade. From there, diplomacy was carried out the window. Thus began a  war  between Rome and Illyria that lasted from 229 to 227 BC. lasted.


13) Jacquotte Delahaye

Born in the 19th century to a French father and a Haitian mother, Jacquotte Delahaye stole  fortunes  and captured the imagination of many seafaring storytellers. This buccaneer lost her mother giving birth and her brother too. After her father was murdered, Delahaye was left to fend for herself. According to legend, she managed to survive only thanks to piracy. 🙌

Her nickname « Back From The Dead Red » comes from the most popular story about her. This story tells that this  hair pirat redhead faked her own death to escape government troops who were closing in on her in the 1660s. From there she took on a new identity and lived as a man for several years .

The pirate has a style all of his own. This umbrella gives you the charisma of a captain.

12) Johanna von Clisson

The story of Jeanne de Clisson is a tale of tragedy, revenge and spectacle. As wife of Olivier III. de Clisson, Jeanne was a mother of five and a lady of Brittany in France. But when the land wars between England and France resulted in her husband being accused of treason and punished with beheading, she swore to the French king Philip VI. Revenge. 😡

Clisson’s widow sold all her land to buy  three warships, which she called her Black Fleet. These ships were painted black, draped with blood-red sails, and crewed by ruthless corsairs. From 1343 to 1356, the Lionne de Bretagne sailed the English Channel, hijacking the ships of the French king, shooting the crew and beheading with an ax every aristocrat unfortunate enough to be on board.

It is worth noting that despite all her raids and bloodshed, Jeanne de Clisson quietly retired. She even remarried and settled with English Lieutenant Sir Walter Bentley. She is believed to have died in 1359, but some say she has since returned to Castle Clisson in Brittany, where her gray ghost roams the corridors.

Johanna von Clisson

11) Anne Dieu-Le-Veut

This French woman is also from Brittany. She came to the Caribbean island of Tortuga in the late 1660s. From there she experienced difficult years that made her a double widow and mother of two children. But fate would have it that her second husband was killed by the man who had become her third. 🗡

Dieu-le-Veut set sail with its crew, which was considered strange at the time, as many sailors believed that women on ships were bad luck.

The legend of Dieu-le-Veut says that this woman took command of the squadron when Captain De Graaf was hit by a cannonball. Others suggest the couple fled to Mississippi around 1698, where they may have continued to be pirates. Still others claim that Dieu-le-Veut’s fighting spirit lived on in his daughter, who is said to have raised eyebrows in Haiti when she demanded a duel with a man.

anne god willing

10) Sayyida Al Hurra

Ally of the Turkish pirate  Barbarossa , Sayyida al-Hurra was a pirate queen and the last woman to receive that title after the death of her husband, who had ruled over Tetouan in Morocco. In fact, her true name is unknown. Sayyida al Hurrah can be interpreted as « noble, free and independent lady; the sovereign woman who bows to no higher authority ». 💪

She ruled from 1515 to 1542 and controlled the western Mediterranean with her  pirate fleet while Barbarossa roamed the eastern side. Al Hurra’s inspiration for getting into piracy arose out of a desire for revenge on the “Christian enemy” who had wronged her years earlier when the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella expelled her Muslim family from Granada. She was a feared figure among the Spanish and Portuguese, whose historical archives are littered with documents that tell of her exploits and ransom payments.

At the height of her power, she remarried the King of Morocco but refused to give up her seat of power in Tetouan. In 1542, she had no choice when her son-in-law overthrew her. The Yemen Times reviewed the final chapter of her life and wrote: “She has been stripped of her property and power and her future fate is unknown”.

Sayyida al-Hurra

9) Ching Shih

One of the most feared pirates of all time, Ching Shih was a real menace who roamed the China Sea. Born to the humble beginnings of Shi Xiang Gu, she was working as a prostitute when she was captured by pirates. In 1801 she married the famous Chinese  pirate Zheng Yi . Yi’s Red Flag fleet was huge, consisting of 300 ships and about 20,000 to 40,000 men. But all that threatened to collapse when he died on November 16, 1807. 🧐

It wasn’t long before she sought the support of her in-laws in her bid to lead the red flag fleet. To help her deal with the day-to-day problems of a tentacle  -like pirate army To help, Ching Shih enlisted the support of Chang Pao, a fisherman’s son who was adopted by Yi. The two formed an excellent team and by 1810 the Red Fleet is said to have numbered 1,800 sailing ships and 80,000 crew members.

To administer so many, Ching Shih essentially set up her own government to enact laws and even taxes. Still, she wasn’t squeamish. Violations of their laws resulted in their beheading. She was revered and feared as far away as Great Britain.

Ching Shih pirate

8) Teuta von Illyria

One of the first known female pirates was Teuta of Illyria. This powerful woman was not only a pirate, but also a  queen ! After her husband’s death in 231 B.C. Teuta became queen-regent. It promoted piracy as a means of defending itself against neighboring countries, which were more powerful at the time.

After the death of her husband, the king of the Ardiaei, Teuta ruled in his place. She was known to support pillage and raids on Roman and Greek ships and on the coastal colonies. 🚢

When two Roman ambassadors asked them to stop their hostile activities, Teuta is said to have replied: “It was never the custom of royalty to prevent its enemies from profiting from the sea”. In short: nothing and nobody could stop her mission: to avenge her husband.

pirate ship

7) Maria Lindsey

Maria Lindsey met the famous  pirate captain  Eric Cobham and it was love at first sight. Cobham revealed his profession to Mary, but she would not be dissuaded because, according to legend, they were married the next day! The couple left Maria’s hometown of Plymouth and spent around twenty years sailing the seven seas. 🌊

Of course, a great career of looting and murder follows for this woman, who was originally not intended for such acts. But if the stories about her are to be believed, when she was on board she was the most feared of all combatants on the ship…

A pirate is nothing without his flag . Get your own today!

6) Grace O’Malley

Grace O’Malley was an incredible rebel, born in Ireland in 1530. She was known as a pirate and trader… She even met Queen Elizabeth I! Unlike most pirates, she lived a long life spending most of her time at sea. Eventually, she died around the age of 70—an impressive age for the time! 😵

The “Pirate Queen” is one of the most notorious killers. It is said that she grew up in a seafaring clan of which her father was the leader. She married (twice) and spent most of her time defending her property by any means necessary…and like any self-respecting pirate, taking the property of others.

Relentless and fearless, legend has it that Grace gave birth to one of her sons on board a ship and a day later went into battle to defend the ship . As if that wasn’t enough, Grace was also temperamental enough to demand a trial with none other than Queen Elizabeth. She demanded that her brother and sons, who had been captured, be released. The queen agreed.

grace o malley

5) Aethelflaed

Aethelflaed was the first woman to rule an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. After her husband’s death in battle against the Vikings in 911, she became  the Anglo-Saxons’ military  leader and chief strategist. She is known to have played an essential role in defeating the Viking raiders and retaking English lands lost to Danish pirates. 🇬🇧

She appears in many stories and legends about pirates. Her name is known even to the most fanatical representatives of this very own world.


4) Ladgerda

Ladgerda (also spelled Lagertha) was a Danish Viking pirate said to have lived in the 9th century. She was known as the « Shield Maiden », ie a Viking woman with a sword and shield, known for her ferocity and her skill in combat on land and sea. 🛡

With only a few accounts of her life (appearing mainly in the Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century AD), it is disputed among historians whether Ladgerda was indeed a legendary figure and a surrogate for the deeds of a group of women is.

One story suggests that she rescued her husband’s fleet from a warring tribe, but in the process murdered him with a knife, taking his place as tribal leader.

Ladgerda pirate

3) Frau Cheng

One of the most successful pirates of the 19th century, Madame Cheng (Ching Shih) commanded over 300 ships with about 3500 pirate disciples who included men, women and even children. The greatest army of all pirates, quite simply… Like Grace O’Malley, Cheng lived to a ripe old age for the time, retired from piracy, and eventually died in 1844 at the age of 69.

Cheng I Sao, who began her life in China as a prostitute, was introduced to piracy by her husband, the powerful pirate Cheng I , who commanded a vast fleet. Its fleet consisted of 400 ships and more than 70,000 sailors. After seven years of marriage, her husband died, leaving the fate of his pirate army uncertain. In an attempt to unite her crew and maintain power, she married her adopted son, making her the new leader of the fleet. 💀

In the years that followed, she commanded many successful raids across Southeast Asia and quickly became a major enemy of China. In 1810, the  Chinese government asked the  British and Portuguese navies for help in capturing the ship and her crew.

Frau cheng

2) Mary Read

Mary Read was an English pirate who became a legend along with her companion Anne Bonny  . Mary’s mother was a widow who disguised her as a boy to raise money. Eventually, disguised as a boy, she enlisted in the British Army. She married a Flemish soldier, but when he died Mary was penniless. They were attacked by pirates aboard a ship bound for the West Indies. And after fighting them, she eventually joins their ranks. 🤝

Mary found herself alongside Anne Bonny on the ship of famous pirate Calico Jack Rackham. According to legend, she became Rackham and Bonny’s lover. When the three were captured in 1720, Mary and Anne were able to delay their execution as they were both pregnant. However, she fell ill in prison and died in 1721.

mary read

1) Anne Bonny

At the top of the list of the best pirate wives of all time is Anne Bonny, probably the most famous female pirate to sea during the Golden Age. She was a member of the crew of  Calico Jack , with Mary Read, but it is said that the two women fought with more skill than any man on board the ship. Anne and Mary were even given the task of defending the drunken crew when their ship was attacked by  pirate hunters  .

Born Anne Cormac in 1698, the young Irish woman with the beautiful red hair and dangerous temper became an icon of the golden  age of piracy (1650-1730) after marrying little pirate James Bonny. Anne’s respected father had disowned her during the marriage. She then moved with her new husband to a part of the Bahamas that was dubbed the Pirate Republic, a haven of sorts. 😈

They divorced shortly after and that’s where she met Calico. In October 1720, she and the rest of Rackham’s crew were captured, despite Bonny and his companion Mary Read valiantly trying to repel the English forces. She died in prison a few years later while pregnant.