On this day October 8, 1789, 229 years ago Rachel Wall was hanged at Boston Common near the corner of Tremont and Boylston street.
Rachel and her husband George moved from Boston to Essex near Gloucester, Massachusetts to launch their plan to raid vessels off the North Shore. She was actually arrested and convicted of highway robbery, for stealing a bonnet! Rachel’s execution took place on under an order signed by the Governor of Massachusetts, John Hancock, yes, the same man who signed his name on the Declaration of Independence.
Rachel Wall was the last woman hanged in America’s oldest park, Boston Common. and believed to be the only female pirate born in America. Was she hung for piracy and stealing from sailors and captains along Boston’s waterfront or for a petty crime?
Cindy Vallar has a great article on Rachel at the fabulous Pirates and Privateers: The History of Maritme Piracy. Check it out and decide for yourself!
In the first chapter of Beyond Beauport, Shannon Clarke, our main character dramatizes the story of Rachel Wall with her drinking friends:
“Pirate Rachel Wall, a thief who ran away from her strict religious family in Pennsylvania at sixteen and married sherman George Wall. They came to Boston. She worked as a servant on Beacon Hill, but George had a get-rich-quick scheme. They moved up this way to Essex to become pirates.”
Shannon held her friends in rapt attention. “Here’s the thing,” she continued. “Rachel was a seductress and thief. George was a murderous thug. He’d borrow a schooner and head north
for the Isles of Shoals as a storm passed. George and his men would hide below deck while Rachel pretended to be alone and adrift, calling out for help with a torn blouse. When another vessel came to her rescue, George and his men would ascend on deck to plunder the other vessel, scuttle it, and drown the crew.”