Sure, lots of pirates had cool nicknames. But did any ever have a moniker as intriguing as that of Jacquotte Delahaye? Probably not. Her nickname, “Back from the Dead Red” hints at just how fascinating her life was, even if relatively little is actually known about it.
What is known for sure is that Jacquotte was born in modern-day Haiti in around 1600. According to the legend, her mother died in childbirth and her father was brutally murdered when she was just a young girl. She was then left alone to care for her disabled brother. Since there were very few professions open to adventurous and strong-willed ladies at that time, Jacquotte turned to piracy and, before too long, she was making a name for herself on the Caribbean seas.
In partnership with another female criminal, Anne-Dieu-le-Veut from France, she put together a small ragtag crew and targeted small boats, plundering their treasure. This did not sit well with other pirates, and soon a price was put on her head. In a bid to get them off their back, while at the same time escaping the authorities, Jacquotte faked her own death. But retirement held little appeal and soon she was back out on the open seas.
Like many of her female counterparts, Jacquotte tried to pass herself off as a man. However, her striking beauty and flowing bright red hair easily gave her away. Soon, then, she gave up the pretence. She was “Back from the Dead”, and quickly returned to leading hundreds of outlaws and dozens of boats. She even managed to establish a “freebooter republic”, taking over a small Caribbean island. It was here, so the legend goes, that she died, defending her pirate utopia from attackers.
With her unbeatable combination of beauty and bravery, Jacquotte Delahaye inspired countless tales over the years. Some even maintain that she herself was a work of fiction. Certainly, unlike many pirates, there is no real historical evidence confirming her existence. But where’s the fun in that?
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:
“Rachel Wall, New England’s Only Lady Pirate”. New England Historical Society.
“How Two 18th Century Lady Pirates Became BFFs on the High Seas”. Hadley Mears, Atlas Obscura, September 2015.
“Ireland’s pirate queen: Twelve fascinating facts about the legendary Grace O’Malley”. Aidan Lonergan, The Irish Post, July 2017.
“The Swashbuckling History of Women Pirates”. Lorraine Boissoneault. Smithsonian.com, April 2017.