Anne Bonny

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Anne Bonny
— Pirate —
Bonney, Anne (1697-1720).jpg
Anne Bonny from a Dutch version of Charles Johnson's book of pirates.
NicknameAnney
TypePirate
Born(1702-03-08)March 8, 1702
Place of birthKinsale, Ireland
DiedApril 22, 1782(1782-04-22) (aged 80)
AllegianceNone
Years active?–October 1720
Base of operationsCaribbean
 
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Anne Bonny
— Pirate —
Bonney, Anne (1697-1720).jpg
Anne Bonny from a Dutch version of Charles Johnson's book of pirates.
NicknameAnney
TypePirate
Born(1702-03-08)March 8, 1702
Place of birthKinsale, Ireland
DiedApril 22, 1782(1782-04-22) (aged 80)
AllegianceNone
Years active?–October 1720
Base of operationsCaribbean

Anne Bonny (8 March 1702 – 22 April 1782) was an Irish woman who became a famous pirate, operating in the Caribbean.[1] What little is known of her life comes largely from Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates.

Early life[edit]

Anne Bonny was born on March 8, 1702 birth name Anne Cormac, in Kinsale County Cork, Ireland, the daughter of a servant woman, Mary Brennan, and her employer, lawyer William Cormac. Official records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are scarce and most modern knowledge stems from Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates (a contemporary collection of pirate biographies, the first edition accurate, the second much embellished).[2][3]

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 in North America. 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.[4] 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.[3] She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny.[5] 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.[6] Many inhabitants received a "King's Pardon" or otherwise evaded the law. It is also recorded that after the arrival of Governor Woodes Rogers in the summer of 1718, James Bonny became an informant for the governor.[7]

Rackham's mistress[edit]

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. Many different theories state that he was left with his family or simply abandoned. 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.[8] Rackham and the two women recruited a new crew. Over the next several months, they were successful as pirates, capturing many ships 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.[7] Although Bonny has historical renown as a female Caribbean pirate, she never commanded a ship of her own.

Capture and imprisonment[edit]

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, Read, Bonny, and an unknown 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 he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog."

After being sentenced, Read and Bonny both "pleaded their bellies": asking for mercy because they were pregnant.[9]

In accordance with English common law, both women received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth. Read died in prison, most likely from a fever, though it has been alleged that she died during childbirth.[7]

Disappearance[edit]

There is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father ransomed her; that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that "Evidence provided by the descendants of Anne Bonny suggests that her father managed to secure her release from jail and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackham's second child. On December 21, 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 April 22, 1782. She was buried on April 24, 1782.[10] According to Sherman Carmichael's Forgotten Tales of South Carolina, she is buried in the York County Churchyard in York County, Virginia.[11]

Some claim that she was smuggled away by her father, and that this was made possible by his far reaching and favorable merchant connections. This is a probable solution to the mystery. After all, her father's business connections had saved Anne a number of times before. Rackham's crew spent a lot of time in Jamaica and the surrounding area.[12] Although the crew, including Anne, was discovered or caught on a number of occasions, Bonny always escaped punishment and harm. This was probably because of her father's business contacts in Jamaica.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carlova (1964)
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  3. ^ a b Meltzer (2001)
  4. ^ a b Johnson (1725)
  5. ^ Lorimer (2002), pg. 47
  6. ^ Sharp (2002)
  7. ^ a b c Woodard, Colin (2007). The Republic of Pirates. Harcourt, Inc. pp. 139, 316–318. ISBN 978-0-15-603462-3. 
  8. ^ Druett, Joan (2000). She Captains : Heroines and Hellions of the Sea. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  9. ^ Yolen, Jane; Shannon, David (1995). The Ballad of the Pirate Queens. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. pp. 23–24. 
  10. ^ Cordingly (2004)
  11. ^ Carmichael, Sherman (2011). Forgotten Tales of South Carolina. The History Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-60949-232-8. 
  12. ^ Canfield, Rob (2001). "Something's Mizzen: Anne Bonny, Mary Read, "Polly", and Female Counter-Roles on the Imperialist Stage". South Atlantic Review: 50. 
  13. ^ http://kotaku.com/5988249/be-excited-about-assassins-creed-iv-and-be-skeptical
  14. ^ Lonely Banshee page on Facebook

Bibliography[edit]

Websites

Books