Anne Bonny was arguably the most famous female pirate to sail the seven seas. Along with Mary Read she found fame when she served as a crewmate on-board Calico Jack Rackham’s ship. She was born in Ireland around March 8th 1700, the result of a scandalous affair between an attorney and his maid.
Anne’s mother died when she was young. Anne’s disgraced father swiftly left Ireland with Anne moved first to London, then to Charles Town, Carolina. Here, Anne’s father acquired a large plantation and became a wealthy man once again.
Anne’s first recorded encounter with piracy, was when she met James Bonny, a sailor and small-time swashbuckler, who became her husband. Shortly after their marriage, Anne’s father disowned her, causing Anne and James to travel to Nassau, a town where pirates outnumbered civilians ten to one.
Around this time Woodes Rogers had recently become the new governor or Nassau, he was appointed to rid the town of buccaneers. James turned his back on piracy and started working for Rogers as an informant, and thus losing the respect of his wife Anne.
Enter Calico Jack. Anne and Jack met one night in a tavern, and were instantly attracted to each other. It is said that they matched each other in their fiery temperament and love of adventure. Anne and Jack slipped away one night under the cover of darkness and began their life of piracy together.
As a pirate, Anne was said to fight with as much skill as any man, and shamed her male crewmates with her fearless approach to battle. When Rackham’s ship was eventually captured by famous pirate hunter, Jonathan Barnet, it is said that most of the male crew remained below decks drunk, leaving Anne Bonny and Mary Read to defend the ship and their honour. Their entire crew was eventually captured, but Anne and Mary avoided the noose by pleading pregnancy.
After this Anne seems to mysteriously disappear from records, although some believe that her father forgave Anne, bailed her out of jail, and brought her back to Charles Town giving her a new identity. In Charles Town she reportedly married Joseph Burleigh in 1721. They had eight children and she died many years later in 1782.