Famous Pirate: Anne Bonny
It is hard to separate the legend from the facts of Anne Bonny. The only thing we can be sure of is that Anne Bonny was a strong, independent woman, who was way ahead of her time. The 18th century was still a time when man made all important decisions, a time when women did not have many rights. In this men's world, it was hard for Anne Bonny to become an equal crewmember and a respected pirate.
The exact date of Anne's birth is not known, but most historians think that she was born in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland in 1697. She was the illegitimate daughter of lawyer William Cormac and his servant woman, Marry Brennan. William's wife made his adultery public, so after losing his reputation, William with his new wife and newborn child decided to leave Ireland and start again in the New World. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina where William began his legal career again. They bought a plantation.
After losing her mother in her late teens, Anne had to take care of her father's household. There are a lot of stories about her teen years; some of them even claim that she murdered a servant girl with a knife, and there is one about a young man that she put in the hospital for several weeks, after his failed attempt to sexually assault her.
When she was sixteen years old, she fell in love with a small-time pirate, James Bonny, who just wanted her estate. Her father was against their relationship, but she was stubborn and married him. William was very disappointed, because he wanted to make a respectful lady of Anne, so he turned her out of his home.
James took his wife to the New Providence, pirate's hideout. He had a hard time supporting her, and in the end, he became a pirate informer for the governor, Woodes Rogers. Anne was disappointed because she had made many pirate friends. With the help of her good friend, Pierre, a celebrated homosexual who ran a famous ladies establishment, Anne left her husband. She ran away with Calico Jack Rackam, romantic Pirate Captain, who even offered to buy her from Anne's husband.
Calico Jack Rackam was a typical small-time pirate who usually attacked coastal shipping. He was not very successful as a pirate, but he knew how to spend money with style. The love relationship between Anne and Calico was not public, but on the ship, everybody knew that Anne was "the captain's woman."
When Rackam found out that she was pregnant, he left her in Cuba to deliver the baby. There are several theories about what happened to Anne's first child. Some people think that she just abandoned her, some believe that Calico had a friend with a family in Cuba who agreed to raise their child. Some even believe that her child died at birth.
After few months, she returned to Rackam's ship, but now infamous Mary Read was also on board. It did not take long for the two girls to become good friends. According to some sailors, Ana and Marry were even in a romantic relationship.
In October 1720, Captain Barnet, ex-pirate, now commander of British Navy attacked Rackam's anchored ship "Revenge". Almost the entire Rackam's crew was drunk. They were celebrating all night because they managed to capture a Spanish commercial ship. The fight was short because only Merry and Anne resisted. However, in the end, they were also overpowered.
The crew of "Revenge" was taken to Port Royal to stand trial. The trial was a big sensation because the background of the female prisoners was reviled. Anne and Mary were women who escaped from traditional restrictions and in their way, fought for equality between men and women.
Everybody was found guilty for the crime of piracy. The sentence was death by hanging. However, Anne and Mary were spared, because they claimed to be pregnant.
Mary died in a Jamaican prison from fever, but the fate of Anne Bonny is unknown.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), Anne Bonny’s father managed to pay the ransom for his daughter and bring her back to the Charles Town. Soon after, she gave birth to Rackham’s child. In 1721, she remarried to Joseph Burleigh. They had eight children. She died on April 25, 1782, in South Carolina.