Pierre Bouspeut: Coiffure, Dressmaker, Pirate, Thief

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Next in my Leading Ladies and Gents series is the multi-talented pirate, Pierre Bouspeut, or Bosket or Delvin, depending on which sources you read.  Pierre had fingers in as many pies as he had names: he owned a hairdressing salon, dressmaker’s shop and coffee house, and of course he was a celebrated gay villain, who lived in the pirate haven New Providence where vagabonds sold their wares at market and where all social ‘norms’ went to the wind.

It was here that Pierre met the notorious Anne Bonny.  Legend has it that Anne tempted him into a life of piracy with tales of gold and bolts of fine cloth up for the taking on the high seas.  In their most audacious escapade, Anne dressed Bouspeut’s tailors’ dummy as a corpse, smeared it with dog’s blood and sat it at the helm of her ship.  She stood over the dummy holding aloft an axe and ordered the rest of her crew to play dead.  Upon seeing the ‘ghost ship’, the crew of a French merchantman were so terrified that they immediately handed over all their cargo.

When Anne joined forces with the pirate John Rackham she took Pierre with her.  Some sources suggest that the two men had a sexual relationship.  This would not have been uncommon on the sloop where women, out of superstition, were not permitted, (apart from Anne that is, and later her lover, Mary Read).  What seems more certain is that Bouspeut probably would have designed and made Rackham’s infamous calico suits and the black velvet pants which were Anne’s signature garment.

There is little information about Pierre Bouspeut apart from his connection with Anne Bonny and John Rackham.  Similarly, his fate is not known.  Perhaps he was shot by the King’s men on board Revenge or he may have been sentenced to death and later executed.  I would like to think however that he escaped from Jamaica and carried on his glamorous existence elsewhere, living to a ripe old age, surrounded by a dozen handsome sailors.

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