In honor of St. Patrick’s day, I decided to devote this Female Friday to Irish women. There are many Irish women that deserve attention but I’m focusing on two women.
Kit Cavanagh was born in Dublin in 1667. Her childhood was spent on the family farm in Leixlip, County Kildare. During her teen years, she was seduced and she fled to her aunt’s pub in Dublin. SHe inherited the pub after her aunt’s death and married Richard Walsh. Four years after the marriage Richard disappeared. Pregnant with their third child, Kit searched for her husband for a year but learned nothing about his disappearance. Then she received a letter from the Netherlands. It was from Richard, explaining that on the day of his disappeance he had gotten blind drunk and awake in Holland. He had been conscripted and had to fight for King William III against the French.
Kit had her mother care for her children, cut her hair and dressed in male clothing, she enlisted in the Duke of Marlborough’s infantry under the name of Christian Walsh. She was nicknamed the “pretty dragoon”. It seems Kit had a talent for fighting. Though injured in Battle of Landen (1693), her true sex wasn’t discovered. The men in her regiment didn’t unearth her secret either, though she ate with them, slept alongside them and even urinated with them, using a silver tube with leather straps. Through the this, she continued to search for Richard yet the war ended in 1697.
However, hostilies rose again in 1702 and she promptly re-enlisted again. She was wounded again, this time in the hip yet her secret was safe. In 1704, she was guarding prisoners after the Battle of Hochastat and watching a soldier from another regiment being embraced by a Dutch woman. When the man turned around, it was Richard. She revealed her secret to him and she decided that she wanted to stay in the army so they would live apart. However, in 1706, Kit was wounded again and this time, her secret was discovered.
Though, she remarried Richard and twice after that, her life ended as many in military life find themselves. She lived on charity from army bass and others who knew of her story. She died in 1739 and was buried with full military honors at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster.
Anne Boony was born to a servant, Mary, and her married employers, William Cormac, a lawyer. Because of the scandal father, mother and daughter departed Ireland and settled in Charleston, South Carolina. William purchased a planation which her ran successfully. Mary died and Anne grew up as a spoiled daddy’s girl. Anne had a fierce temper and was strong and sturdy. When a male attempted to rape her, she beat him up so badly he had to take to his bed.
Disowned by her father, she soon married a pirate James Bonny. The couple made their way to New Providence, which is now Bahamas, a place with disruptable inhabitants. She soon tired on her husband and took up with Captain John Rackham also known as Calico Jack. Her husband took her to court for desertion where she had to appear naked. James Bonny got an order to prevent Anne and Jack from meeting. Anne ignored it and join Calico Jack’s ship, The Revenge.
Once on board, she earned a wild reputation and befriended fellow female pirate, Mary Reed. WHen the British government issued a King’s Proclamation pardoning all pirates who gave themselves up. Calico Jack took advantage of this. However, afterwards, Calico Jack was broke and went back to sea and a pirate life for he.
In November 1720, a pirate hunter Captain Barnet attacked The Revenge. However only Marry Ried and Anne Bonny stayed top deck, ready to fight while the men cowered below. And the ship was so overrun. When brought into port for trail, Anne claimed to be pregnant, which postponed the execution. When Calico Jack’s day to hang Anne and him met again where she yelled at him for not fighting like a man.
After that nothing more of Anne is known. There is no date of execution. How her days ended is a mystery? And perhaps a great story waiting to be told.