Calico Jack

Calico Jack

Infobox Pirate
name=John Rackham
lived=December 21, 1682 - November 18, 1720

caption=The flag of Calico Jack
nickname= Calico Jack
placeofbirth=Bristol, England
placeofdeath=Spanish Town, Jamaica
allegiance= England
base of operations= West Indies
commands=The Treasure

John Rackham (December 21, 1682November 18, 1720 in Jamaica), also known as Calico Jack Rackham or Calico Jack, (often misspelled Rackam or Rackum in contemporary documentation), was an English pirate captain during the early 18th century. His nickname was derived from the calico clothing he wore. [ [ jack and captain john rackham ] ]


John Rackham is most remembered for two things: 1) his Hollywood-preferred black flag featuring the skull and crossed cutlasses, and2) employing the two notorious female pirates of The Golden Age of PiracyAnne Bonny and Mary Read – in his crew.

He made a career of plundering small vessels close to shore, which proved his undoing as he cruised Jamaica in Fall 1720. He captured numerous small fishing vessels, terrorizing fishermen and women along the northern coastline before coming across a small vessel filled with other English pirates. The nine armed men were invited aboard, but were almost immediately under attack by an armed sloop sent out by Governor Lawes.

Capture, Trial and Death

Rackham and his crew were captured October 1720 by Captain Jonathan Barnet. Rackham and the male members of the crew were tried and convicted in Spanish Town, Jamaica, November 16-17, 1720. Rackham was hanged the next day, November 18, 1720. Rackham's body was then tarred, hanged in a cage, and gibbeted on display on a very small islet at a main entrance to Port Royal, Jamaica as a warning to other pirates (now known as Rackhams Cay). This is referenced in the Disney film in which several pirates are hanged from an open caveface in the film rendition of Port Royal. Calico Jack's flag was used in as the Black Pearl's pirate flag.

Other Pirates

According to the contemporary transcript of the trials, Anne Bonny and Mary Read were not executed, because at their trial a week after Rackham's they both said they were pregnant. They were given a temporary stay until the claim was proved, and the plan was to hang them after childbirth. However, Read died in April 1721 of fever related to childbirth, while Bonny disappeared from the Jamaica records, leaving much legend and speculation regarding her fate. The fate of the newborns is also unknown.

The nine men captured with Rackham were tried and convicted in January 1721, and hanged February 1721.


Further reading

* A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson (1724).
* [ "Pirate Spirit: The Adventures of Anne Bonney"]
* The entire trial transcript is available in the book [ "The Pirate Trial of Anne Bonny and Mary Read"] by Tamara J. Eastman and Constance Bond

External links

* [ Calico Jack Rackham - Pirate]
* [ The Crows Nest - Jack Rackham]
* [ Pirates of the Grand Turk - Calico Jack, Mary Read and Anne Bonney]
* [ "Calico Jack" Rackham]

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