Mary Critchett, Pirate

View along a street in Colonial Williamsburg
View of Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia from 1698 to 1780.

Photo by Humberto Moreno. CC BY-2.0 (Wikimedia Commons)

Quick Facts
Woman pirate
Date of Birth:
18th Century
Date of Death:
18th Century

In May of 1729, Mary Critchett was among a group of six convicts transported from England to Virginia to work off their criminal sentences.[1] In the middle of the night of May 12, the prisoners escaped. They boarded the sloop JOHN AND ELIZABETH, overpowered the two-man crew, and imprisoned them in the ship’s hold. With Mary sitting on the hatch to keep them confined, the prisoner crew sailed into Chesapeake Bay.

Despite Mary’s protests, the prisoners-turned-pirates released the ship’s former crew. Shortly afterwards, the JOHN AND ELIZABETH was captured. Mary and her compatriots were tried in Williamsburg, Virginia and convicted of piracy. Although they were sentenced to hang, there is no record of their execution.

Last updated: March 19, 2019