Executions · Famous Last Words · Female Killers · Massachusetts

FLW: the lady pirate

Famous Last Words
Rachel Wall
Boston, Massachusetts
October 8, 1789

“I likewise return my hearty thanks to the several Ministers of the town who have attended be since I have been under sentence: also to a number of other kind friends, for the care they have shewn to me both for soul and body … may God reward them all for their kindness ness to me. And now, into the hands of Almighty God I commit my soul, relying on his mercy, through the merits its and mediation of my Redeemer, and die an unworthy thy member of the Presbyterian Church, in the 29th year of my age.”

Wall, whose maiden name is sometimes reported to be Schmidt, met and married her husband George when she was 16, and soon the couple turned to piracy. Wall is believed to be (as the records are not complete from this era, it’s difficult to ascertain for sure) the first American-born pirate and the first American female pirate. She was definitely the last woman hanged legally in Massachusetts, though.

She and her husband parted ways in 1782, after their piracy career killed 24 sailors. George Wall’s fate in uncertain but it’s likely he perished when their ship was overtaken by a storm and he was washed into the sea. Regardless, Rachel Wall returned to Boston and, although she began a new career as a servant, she quickly returned to a life of crime, this time becoming a petty thief.

Her last, fateful encounter with thievery came when she attacked a 17-year-old Margaret Bender. She attempted to steal Bender’s bonnet (and, allegedly, tried to rip out her tongue as well). She was apprehended, tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang for highway robbery.

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