Top 10 Notorious Female Pirates in History

Though piracy is a trade domineered by men, a number of women have been found successful in this occupation. Female pirates, just like in any other field perhaps, are faced issues such as gender and discrimination issues. Ferocity, cleverness, brutality, greed and expertise in handling enemies are just few of their qualities of any pirate.

Most pirate ships did not allow any female crew members on it. Moreover, women were more often than not considered as omen-bearing among these criminals in the seas.

One fear was that the men onboard would argue or even fight over the opposite sex. Mostly, any ships would prohibit women as well as young children to tag along the sea voyage.

 1.  Anne Bonny


Anne Bonny


One of them is Anne Bonny, more notoriously known as Anney, dressed and acted as a man while on Captain Calico Jack’s ship. This was one way, in the Golden Age of Piracy days, to take advantage of the many benefits, privileges, rights and liberty that any men exclusively had over women, especially on a pirate ship.

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 2.  Jeanne-Louise de Belleville


Jeanne-Louise de Belleville


Born in 1300, Jeanne-Louise de Belleville came from a British family and grew up in Brittany. She married a wealthy nobleman Olivier III de Clisson , who was then executed through the then king’s orders after failing defending Vannes. Avenging her husband’s death, Jeanne sold all her lands and even her young body to noblemen, both rich and powerful and eventually bought three warships.

Her ship, the “Black Fleet” begun taking on and hunting down just any ships Jeanne murdered the crew of the ships she took over which belong to King Philip VI, but leaving a few sailors breathing to send a message to the King. “The Lioness of Brittany had struck again.”

 3.  Ching Shih


Ching Shih


Female pirates are just as merciless as their male counterparts. A female pirate who terrorized and sent shivers of horror in the Chinese Sea was Ching Shih. She grew up being a prostitute in the city of Canton, China. She was captured by some pirates in the year 1801 and married the captain of those pirates’ ship, Zheng Yi.

Ching took over the command of the fleet, the crew and ships after her husband’s death. The fleet, with 40,000 men and over 300 junks sent fears even to the British admiralty after hearing that Ching had fought hard and won over an enemy without mercy.

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 4.  Christina Anna Skytte


Christina Anna Skytte


Some female pirates came from bloods of nobility and wealth. Christina Anna Skytte was a child of Baron Jacob Skytte of Duderhof, Sweden. She became partners in the business with her brother, along with her fiancé, after being unhappy with a life of nobility and wealth.

 5.  Sayyida al Hurra


Sayyida al Hurra


Sayyida al Hurra was born to a prominent Muslim family in the Kingdom of Granada. She was able to marry the King of Morocco. Piracy came to her life after becoming ally with Turkish pirate Barbarossa of Algiers carrying anger towards the Catholics who caused the loss of her family in her early life.


 6.  Teuta of Illyria


Teuta of Illyria


Teuta of Illyria, wife of the King of Ardiaei, supported the pirate population of her kingdom and became a pirate herself after her husband’s death. Teuta’s pirates assaulted vessels carrying merchandise from Rome and Greece. Her pirates were able to capture two ambassadors sent to by Rome; one remained a captive and the other put to instant death.

 7.  Anne Dieu-Le-Veut


Anne Dieu-Le-Veut


Anne Dieu-Le-Veut was a lawless person and criminal who got deported from France to Tortuga. She married a man with whom he had a duel in a bar. The two of them captured pirate ships and sailed the seas.

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8.  Grace O’Malley


Grace O’Malley


Grace O’Malley took over her father’s role of collecting taxes from fishermen in their territory some time during her two marriages: first with Donal of the Battle, and the second with Iron Richard. She targeted ships, demanding cash or cargo for a safe passage. When refused, she would resort to murder.

9.  Lady Elizabeth Killigrew


Lady Elizabeth Killigrew


Lady Elizabeth Killigrew married Sir John Killigrew of Arwenack, Cornwall. The Killigrews dominated and took control of the shipping in their area, using their position to capture ships that enter the area under their control. She took full command over her fleet after her husband’s death in 1567.

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10.  Jacquotte Delahaye


Jacquotte Delahaye


Jacquotte Delahaye was born in Haiti with a Haitian mother and a French father. Her parents died when she was young. Jacquotte was a beauty forced to turn to piracy to look after her brother. By faking her own death, she was able to escape captivity. She lived as a man for many years and returned to piracy. She was notoriously known as “Back from the Dead Red.”