Buccaneers > Charlotte de Berry

Charlotte de Berry

Chapter Decoration

Background

Charlotte de Berry (1636 - ??) was a disputed 17th century female buccaneer. The first reference to Charlotte de Berry does not come from Alexander Exquemlin like most of the others but instead from over two hundred years after she supposedly died in 1836. She was first mentioned in the book History of the Pirates written by Edward Lloyd and many of her exploits and events are similar to adventures of other buccaneers at the time and during the 19th century.

While her story has appeared in other accounts since it has only been a retelling of the story given by Lloyd. Given the fact there is no primary source documents for this female buccaneer it is highly unlikely she actually existed. Regardless, Lloyd documents that she was born in 1636 in England where she fell in a love with a sailor in her early teens.

Her parents did not approve of the love and despite this she married him anyways. Like Anne Bonny and Mary Read during the later Post Spanish Succession Period she disguised herself as a man and boarded his ship with him. While on the voyage her real gender was discovered by an officer aboard the ship but who kept it secret for wanting her for himself.

The officer assigned her husband the most dangerous of all the jobs in order to try and get him killed but de Berry always helped him out and made sure he survived. Finally the officer had enough and accused the husband of mutiny for which he was found guilty. The sailor was killed by flogging and soon after the officer made romantic advances towards de Berry. Seeing what had transpired she murdered the officer the next time they made port and snuck away by assuming her true identity as a woman that was working at the docks.

While she was working on the docks de Berry was kidnapped by a merchant captain who forced her to marry him. De Berry was taken on the merchant's ship to Africa where she was raped and abused. However, the crew highly respected her and she managed to initiate a mutiny against her husband. She managed to decapitate her captor and assumed his role as captain over the ship. The crew turned to piracy and they had success for several years.

Eventually she fell in love with a Spanish man named Armelio Gonzalez. While traveling though they were shipwrecked and the survivors were forced to resort to cannibalism. The shipwrecked sailors were eventually rescued by a passing Dutch ship. The Dutch ship eventually came under attack by pirates and de Berry and her rescued crew defended the Dutch. According to the story, after the victory many of the sailors celebrated while she jumped overboard to join her dead husband. It is not known if she survived or if any of this biography is even true but thats not to say women were not involved in piracy.

Buccaneers

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources