- Anne Bonny
March 8, 1700Fact|date=July 2008 - April 25, 1782
caption=Anne Bonny from a Dutch version of Charles Johnson's book of pirates. The image does not conform to contemporary descriptions and instead plays up the sexual aspects of her story.
County Cork, Ireland
serviceyears= ? - October 1720
base of operations=
Anne Bonny (
March 8, 1700[John Carlova "Mistress of The Seas] - possibly April 25, 1782) was an Irish American piratewho plied her trade in the Caribbean.
Much of what is known about Anne Bonny is based on Captain Charles Johnson's "
A General History of the Pyrates". Official records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are scarce. Various sources disagree about her birth year, but according to descendants she was born in 1698 [http://arthur-ransome.org/ar/literary/pyrates.htm Pyrates] .] . John Carlova in his book "Mistress of The Seas", gives Anne's birthdate as 8 March 1700.
Anne Bonny, born in
County Cork, Ireland, was a daughter of attorney William Cormac and his maidservant. Her mother was named either Mary or Peg Brennan. When the affair became public, Cormac, with his new wife and newborn child, left Ireland for Charleston, South Carolina, where he made a fortune and bought a large plantation.
Marriage and later affair with a pirate
The few records of Bonny which exist seem to reflect that she was intelligent, attractive, and quick-tempered. When she was 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl in the stomach with a table knife, although it is unclear whether this is fact or purely legend. At 16, she married a sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James Bonny hoped to win possession of his wife's family estate, but she was disowned by her father.
According to legend, Anne Bonny started a fire on the plantation in retaliation. James Bonny then took his new bride to
New Providence(modern-day Nassau), Bahamas, a pirate hub and base for many pirate operations, where he became an informant for Governor Woodes Rogers.
While in the Bahamas, Anne Bonny began mingling with pirates at the local drinking establishments, and met the pirate John "Calico Jack" Rackham, with whom she had an affair. While Rackham and many other pirates were enjoying the King's pardon in the New Providence, James dragged Anne before Gov. Rogers to demand she be flogged for adultery & returned to him. There was even an offer for Rackham to buy her in a
divorce-by-purchase, but Anne refused to be "bought and sold like cattle." She was sentenced to the flogging, but later Anne and Rackham escaped to live together as pirates.
Life as a pirate
She disguised herself as a man in order to join Rackham's crew aboard the "Revenge" (Pirate articles often barred women from the ship). The couple stole a
sloopat anchor in the harbor and set off to sea, putting together a crew and taking several prizes. She took part in combat alongside the males, and the accounts describing her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and someone who gained the respect of her fellow pirates.
Over the next several years, she and Rackham saw quite a few successes as pirates, capturing many ships, and bringing in an abundance of treasure. According to legend, she stabbed a fellow pirate through the heart when he discovered her gender.
Although Bonny is one of the best-known pirates in history, she never commanded a ship of her own. Her renown derives from the fact that she was a remarkable rarity: a female pirate.
Meeting Mary Read
Bonny was not to be the only female pirate on Rackam's ship. A woman by the name of
Mary Readalso disguised herself as a man to join the crew, after her ship was taken during a raid. Bonny and Read became close companions to one another because both were pregnant. They met when Bonny walked in on Read undressing one day, and she discovered her secret. The two women agreed to keep this from everyone, and Bonny swore not to reveal that Read was really a woman. It was indicated in the writings of author and Captain Charles Johnson that, at least at first, their attraction to one another was of a romantic nature, but that is not known beyond a doubt.
But, Read's true identity would not remain secret for long. Rackham became suspicious of Bonny's close relationship with the new sailor, and demanded an explanation. When Read confessed that she was actually a woman, Rackham allowed her to stay on as a member of his crew, eventually revealing her secret to the other crew members. However, this had no effect on her service, and she was accepted on board the ship as Bonny had been.
Capture and imprisonment
In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet, who was working for the governor of
Jamaica. Most of Rackham's pirates did not put up much resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. However, Read and Bonny, who were sober, fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time. After their capture, Rackham and his crew were sentenced by the Governor of Jamaica to be hanged. Jack hid while the pregnant(and recently proved) ladies dealt with a great number of captors. Bonny is reported to have chastised the imprisoned Rackham (who wanted to see her one last time) by saying, "I am sorry to see you here Jack, but if you had fought like a man, you need not be hanged like a dog."
After their arrest and trial, Read and Bonny both pleaded their bellies, announcing during the sentencing phase that they were both pregnant. In accordance with
English common law, both women received a temporary stay of executionuntil they gave birth. Mary Read died in prison most likely from a fever; it has been alleged that she died during childbirth.
Disappearance from the record
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. However, 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 gaol and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackham's second child. On December 21 1721she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had eight children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty-two and was buried on April 25 1782" [David Cordingly, "Bonny, Anne (1698–1782)", " Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/39085, accessed 18 Nov 2006] ] .
In popular culture
*A novel named "Pirate Spirit: The Adventures of Anne Bonny" by Jeffrey Williams
*The novel, [http://www.robertqhoyt.com "Anne Bonny, Tale of a Lady Pirate"] by [http://www.robertqhoyt.com Robert Q. Hoyt] attempts to fill in the historical gaps regarding the life of Anne Bonny. This "historical fiction" is based on Caribbean piracy of the early 18th century and documented accounts of the lady pirate.
*A film loosely based on Bonny's story, "
Anne of the Indies" was made in 1951 starring Jean Petersin the title role.
*Bonny, along with Mary Read, is one of the main characters in the webcomic [http://www.sea-monsters.net Sea Monsters] by Gwendolyn Meer. The story is a modernized adaptation of the events of their lives.
*In the comic book "
Witchblade" published by Top Cow Productions, Bonny is portrayed as having once wielded the titular weapon. Calico Jack and Mary Read also appear.
*Bonny and Mary Read are featured in the 11th movie of the
Detective Conananime series, "", as a crucial plot point.
*Bonny makes an appearance in
Erica Jong's novel " Fanny, Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones".
Binnie Barnesplays Bonny in " The Spanish Main," a 1945 adventure movie starring Maureen O'Haraand Paul Henreid.
*Bonny and Read are featured on the wall of
Disneyland's " Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. Patrons are given their clearest view of this when their boat makes one of the last turns right before the parrot, or when they first go inside and look around the corner.
*In the 2003 film "", the character AnnaMaria was named in honor of both Bonny and Read.
board game Pirate's Covepublished by Days of Wondercontains the 6 legendary pirate cards one of which is Anne Bonny & Mary Read.
*Bonny & Read appeared in "Pirates" for Sky/Discovery Channel starring
Lorna Bennett& Rachel Ferjani. It won Golden Reel Award for Sound Editing.
*Bonny appears as one of the Set 6 warriors in the card game Anachronism. She is part of the Pirate culture represented in the set, and among her support cards are cards for Calico Jack and 'Pleading the Belly.'
*Bonny and Read are depicted to have left a treasure in an island 300 years ago in the
*A novel "The Only Life That Mattered: The Short and Merry Lives of Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Calico Jack Rackham" by James L. Nelson
*In the One Piece manga, there is a pirate captain with the same surname: "The Glutton" Jewelry Bonny, Captain of the Bonny Pirates with a bounty of 140,000,000 Beli
Laura Veirsincluded an instrumental track on her album "Carbon Glacier" (2004) entitled "Anne Bonny Rag". The track begins as ragtime pianoand ends with a horn sectionwhich moves the tone more towards reggae.
*David Cordingly, "Bonny, Anne (1698–1782)", "
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/39085, accessed 18 Nov 2006]
* [http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/famous-pirates/anne-bonny.php Anne Bonny] at [http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/ TheWayofthePirates.com]
* [http://arthur-ransome.org/ar/literary/pyrates.htm The Lives of Mary Read and Anne Bonny]
* [http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/whosanne.html Pirates of the Caribbean - Anne Bonny]
* [http://www.robertqhoyt.com Anne Bonny, Tale of a Lady Pirate]
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