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Anne Bonny was one of the most famous and notorious pirates on the Caribbean Sea during her short tenure as a high seas robber. Know for her quick temper, she eloped with a small-time pirate named James Bonny when she was 16 and disinherited by her father.
Anne was born the illegitimate daughter of a prominent lawyer and his maid in Cork, Ireland. The scandal forced her father to leave Ireland for Charleston, South Carolina where he built a thriving merchant business. Raised in luxury, her father disinherited her when she ran off with Bonny.
At 20 years old, just four years after marrying James, she met John “Calico Jack” Rackam, a slightly bigger time pirate, in the Bahamas. Rackham had taken advantage of Governor Woodes Rodgers’s offer for amnesty for all pirates who voluntarily gave up the trade.
Rackam wooed Anne, eventually sending a letter to Bonny to dissolve the marriage. Bonny not only rejected the letter, he asked the Governor to force Bonny to return to him. The governor granted the request and ordered Anne to return to James Bonny under penalty of flogging.
Rather than go back, Anne and Rackam took to the seas.
They commandeered the sloop William—reputed to be the fastest merchantman in the Caribbean—in 1820 in Nassau Bay. From there, they pillaged and robbed small fishing vessels and merchantmen on the Caribbean with a crew of 10 pirates.
Ann dressed as a man, but she never acted like one (except, perhaps, in battle). At one point, she became pregnant. She was put ashore with friends in Cuba until the child was born. She then abandoned the child and returned to the sea to with Calico Jack.
During an earlier period of pirating, Rackam had captured a Dutch merchantman and recruited the crew. Among the crew was Mary Read. Anne and Mary became quick friends as they set out on the William and developed a reputation for being among the most aggressive and cutthroat of the pirates. (Rackam, interestingly, was known for being one of the more compassionate pirates.)
In 1720, the William was captured by a British pirate hunter. Ann, Mary, and Calico Jack were tried in Spanish Town, Jamaica in November along with ten fellow pirates from the William. They were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. Rackam was hanged, but Mary and Anne’s lives were spared when they revealed they were pregnant.
Unfortunately, no further information about Ann Bonny is available, but one legend says that her father reclaimed her and took her back to Charleston. However, she would have been about 22 years old when she was convicted of piracy in Spanish Town.