Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Showing posts with label Rachel Wall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rachel Wall. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Rachel Wall - The American-born Female Pirate

Rachel Schmidt was born in Carlisle, in the Province of Pennsylvania, around 1760. At the age of sixteen, her family visited Harrisburg. She wasn’t much for farmland, but she loved the waterfront. And so she was drawn to the docks along the Susquehanna River. It was there she was harassed and attacked by a group of girls. A man by the name of George Wall, a fisherman that had been a privateer during the Revolutionary War, came to her rescue. It wasn’t long before she fell in love and eloped with her hero.

The couple moved to Boston where Rachel took a job as a servant. George was gone for stretches of time as he worked on a fishing boat. Life was rough and the lure of easy money had become too much. George had a taste for plunder and he convinced her to join him in piracy.

Together they devised a plan. George, Rachel, and several cohorts borrowed a schooner and set out to make a living off fishing. That is until the weather turned stormy. Then they set a unique trap. They dropped anchor off the Massachusetts coast in the Isle of Shoals to weather the squalls and then set their boat adrift feigning trouble. Once they spotted a passing ship, Rachel would stand on the deck send distress signals, luring would-be saviors to a ghastly fate. They boarded the vessels, killed the sailors, and pillaged everything of value. The aiding ship was then sunk, a tactic which made it appear as if the sailors perished at sea during the storm.

Their trickery worked well for many months between 1781 through 1782. Some reports estimate they took twelve boats, killed up to twenty-four crewmen, and amassed about $6,000 worth of loot.

But like all good things, it came to an end. The sea is an unpredictable mistress. And whether by surprise or faulty seafaring calculations, a particularly nasty tempest waylaid the little band of pirates. George and another crewman were washed overboard and their vessel had been badly battered.  Rachel and the rest of the survivors were picked up and returned to Boston.

Now widowed, Rachel returned to working as a servant. Her story didn’t end there. She’d become accustomed to the wealth of pirating. While she no longer prowled the coastline, she did return to stealing, although on a smaller scale as a petty thief along the docks. Seven years later, she attempted to snatch a bonnet off seventeen-year-old Margaret Bender’s head and reportedly tried to rip out the girl’s tongue. She was caught and arrested.

Rachel’s request to be tried as a pirate was denied. At her trial, while she confessed to piracy and theft, she maintained her innocence that she had never killed a man. This did not sway the judge and she was found guilty. On October 8, 1789, she was hung.

Rachel Wall was purportedly the first American-born female pirate and the decidedly last woman to be hanged in Massachusetts. And over a bonnet!

About the Author                                                


Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.