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Death of Irish Pirate Anne Bonny

By rareAdmin, Tuesday, 22nd April 2014 | 0 comments
Filed under: Today in Irish History.












1782: Death of Irish Pirate Anne Bonny

Cork born Anne Bonny was a famous pirate operating in the Caribbean. Bonny became mistress to the famous pirate Calico Jack Rackham.

Born on 8th March 1698 birth name Anne Cormac, in Kinsale Co. Cork, the daughter of a servant woman, Mary Brennan, and her employer, lawyer William Cormac.

Bonny's family travelled to the new world very early on in her life, at first the family had a rough start in their new home. Her mother died shortly after they arrived. Her father attempted to establish himself as an attorney, but did not do well. Eventually, Bonny's father joined the more profitable merchant business and accumulated a substantial fortune. It is recorded she had red hair and was considered a "good catch", but may have had a fiery temper; at aged 13 she supposedly stabbed a servant girl with a table knife.

She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James Bonny hoped to win possession of his father-in-law's estate, but Anne was disowned by her father. There is a story that Bonny set fire to her father's plantation in retaliation; but no evidence exists in support. However, it is known that sometime between 1714 and 1718, she and James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island; known as a sanctuary for English pirates.

While in the Bahamas, Bonny began mingling with pirates in the local taverns. She met Jack "Calico Jack" Rackham, captain of the pirate sloop Revenge, and became his mistress. They had a child in Cuba, who eventually took the name of Cunningham. Bonny rejoined Rackham and continued the pirate life, having divorced her husband and marrying Rackham while at sea. Bonny and Rackham escaped to live together as pirates. Bonny, Rackham, and Mary Read stole the Revenge, then at anchor in Nassau harbour, and put out to sea. Rackham and the two women recruited a new crew. Rackham's crew spent a lot of time in Jamaica and the surrounding area. Over the next several months, they were enjoyed success, capturing many, albeit smaller, vessels and bringing in an abundance of treasure. Bonny did not disguise herself as a man aboard the Revenge as is often claimed. She took part in combat alongside the men, and the accounts of her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and respected by her shipmates. Her name and gender were known to all from the start. Governor Rogers had named them in a "Wanted Pirates" circular published in the continent's only newspaper, The Boston News-Letter.

In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a "King's Ship", a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet under a commission from the Governor of Jamaica. Most of Rackham's pirates did not put up much resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight; other sources indicate it was at night and most of them were asleep; however, Bonny, and an unnamed man fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time. Rackham and his crew were taken to Jamaica, where they were convicted and sentenced by the Governor of Jamaica to be hanged. According to Johnson, Bonny's last words to the imprisoned Rackham were that she was "sorry to see him there, but if you'd fought like a man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog."

After being sentenced, Bonny "pleaded her belly", asking for mercy because she was pregnant. Anne was released and moved to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackham's second child. On 21 December 1721 she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had 10 children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty on 22nd April 1782.