In May of 1729, Mary Critchett was among a group of six convicts transported from England to Virginia to work off their criminal sentences. 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.