Today’s Women of History topic takes us on a walk on the wild side. Ching Shih was a pirate, a highly successful one. She even got to retire, which is not a common occurrence for people in this line of work. She was also one of the few well known female pirates (There are more than you would think given the popular culture).
Ching Shih was born Shi Vianggu in 1775 in Guangdong, China. The name of this town was originally latinized as Canton, hence the term Cantonese. It is located in the lower part of China, bordering the China sea, and north of Hong Kong. She spent some time as a prostitute within the province before she was captured by pirates sometime before 1801. She ended up marrying the leader of those pirates, a man named Cheng I. Cheng I came from a long line of pirates, so it was a family business. It was as his wife that her successful career as a Pirate began, as she was involved with his activities and knew who supported her husband, and who needed other means to support her later in life. He also began consolidating the pirates in the area, eventually becoming the ‘Red Flag Fleet’, one of the most powerful pirating fleets in Asia at the time.