The Cobhams: A Piratical Marriage
Eric Cobham was born in England sometime around 1700, and as a teenager was caught working in a gang that was smuggling brandy from France into England. After two years of incarceration, he stole some gold coins and used them to purchase a ship. True piracy, however, didn't emerge until Cobham and his crew captured a ship in the Irish Sea, drowned all the sailors onboard, and claimed a booty worth Â£40,000. When Cobham returned to Plymouth, England, he met Maria Lindsey. He reportedly confessed to her the atrocities he committed, and she was so enamored with him and his lifestyle that she married him the following day. Shortly thereafter, the couple set sail for the Americas and settled into the area around Newfoundland, Canada. From 1720 to 1740, the couple and their crew attacked vessels with a vengeance, securing plunder and murdering the unfortunate sailors they'd captured.
Both Eric and Maria were known for never giving quarter to those they attacked, and for their cruel and vicious methods of killing. Maria in particular found murder to be a very pleasurable exercise, sometimes tying men to the mast of their ship and using them for target practice. It took Eric some time to convince Maria to give up piracy, but eventually they did retire and purchased an estate in France.
Eric Cobham adjusted quite well to being a landlubber, becoming a magistrate and living respectably. Maria, on the other hand, couldn't handle the life of a “proper” lady, and is said to have either killed herself or was murdered by her husband, depending on what version of the story is being told.
As a husband and wife pirate team, Eric and Maria Lindsey Cobham were a rarity in the pirate realm, and while their tale is exciting, it is often cited as pure fiction. No mention of either individual was ever made until the 1920s, and Eric is an uncommon name for someone born in 1700s England. Their story was allegedly written by Eric to be published after his death, but his wealthy family purchased every copy and burned them — all except for one copy that is supposedly in the French National Archives. In addition, details of the story don't correspond to known facts of the era, so it's highly unlikely that this cruel husband and wife pirate team really existed.