Famous pirate, Captain Jack Rackham secured his place in history books for a few reasons.
Firstly his choice of colourful clothing, earning him the nickname ‘Calico Jack’. Secondly because of his famous flag design – every pirate’s Jolly Roger was different, and Calico Jack’s famous ‘Skull with Crossed Swords’ flag is still instantly recognisable to this day, even being adopted by the fictional rogue Captain Jack Sparrow.
Arguably the main the reason why Rackham is still remembered, is due to his fierce female crewmates – Mary Read and Anne Bonny. It seems almost impossible to talk about one of these swashbucklers without mentioning the other two. In particular, the relationship between Calico Jack and Anne Bonny has fascinated pirate fans for centuries.
When the two first met, Jack was a pirate captain, having recently led a successful mutiny against the villainous Charles Vane. Anne on the other hand, was not a pirate, but a fiery Irishwoman who had moved to Charles Town with her family. Here Anne had her first taste of the swashbuckling lifestyle when she married James Bonny, a sailor who had dabbled in some small-time piracy.
The two relocated to Nassau, the base of the Republic of Pirates, and this is where Jack and Anne’s paths crossed in one of the many taverns. It is said that there was an instant attraction between the two; the only thing that stood in their way was the fact that Anne was already married. In addition, her husband James had recently turned his back on piracy and had become an informant for the Governor, helping to capture buccaneers. Jack hoped to resolve the situation by offering to buy Anne for James, but as you can imagine, the strong willed Anne was not happy with this degrading suggestion, and instead the two escaped one night on board Jack’s Ship, the Revenge.
Anne and Jack enjoyed a life of piracy at sea, even having a child together. They became the golden couple during the Golden age of Piracy. However, in 1720 when pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet captured the Revenge, all the male crewmates, including Jack, were too drunk to fight. Anne Bonny and Mary Read were the only two who defended the ship.
The crew of the Revenge were put on trial; Anne and Mary were the only ones to avoid the noose, claiming that they were pregnant. Anne’s last words to Jack before he was executed were ‘If you had fought like a man, you would not be hanged like a dog’.