154) Mary Anne Arnold

Sailor and Cross Dresser who was Implored to Start Wearing Dresses Again Once the Captain Learned her True Gender

Born: c1825

Death Date Unknown

Her places of birth and death are also unknown

Mary’s mother died when she was ten leaving her in charge of her eighteen-month-old sister (she had two older brothers who apparently didn’t think to pitch in and help!).

Mary’s father had been a lieutenant in the Royal Navy but was kicked out and died in a hospital when she was a child.

She decided to go to sea after figuring out the boys her age who went were paid much better than what she was earning.

Mary made it onto several different ships over several years before getting caught.

Once her captain found out she was a girl he put her into female clothes and had her grow her hair out. The other women on the ship gave her lots of presents and taught her how to be a lady (she was around 15 by that time).

The only real source for the story comes from an officer aboard a ship called the Robert Small who wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald in 1839.

After the news article was published Mary vanishes from the pages of history.

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Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly