Anne Bonny and other female pirates have captivated the public imagination for more than three centuries. She was the illegitimate child of William Cormac and the servant woman. For two years, she was a pirate under Jack Rackham. Being a woman, she was the subject of many stories as she inspired many generations of young women. She was one of the formidable pirates as she engaged in fighting, drinking and cursing with many of the Rackham’s pirates. Anne Bonny’s life was a roller coaster ride, this article explains facts about Bonny Anne that include her early years, her life in piracy, her capture and trial, her death and legacy.
According to captain Charles Johnson’s “A general History of the pirates” which dates to 1724, Bonny was born in Ireland near Cork probably in 1700. Her birth was bas a result of an affair between a married lawyer and his maid. As per Charles Johnson’s book, the unnamed lawyer was forced to relocate to America with Anne Bonny and her mother to America to escape gossip. Young Anne was a spirited and tough lady. It is even reported by Johnson that she once beat up a young man who would have lain with her against her will. At the age of 16 she married a sailor named James Bonny but her father cast them out and disinherited her. This is because her father had done well in business and she expected her to marry well.
As a young couple, Anne Bonny and James Bonny set out for new providence where James made a meager living turning in pirates for bounties. She met pirate Rackham who had wrested command of a pirate vessel from a ruthless captain named Charles Vane. Anne got pregnant and relocated to Cuba where she had her baby. Once she had conceived, she came back to continue with her piracy life with Rackham having divorced James and married Rackham. Rackham and Anne stole a loop, assembled a crew and began their life in crime on the high seas.
Anne Bonny’s life in piracy was quite a bizarre. She proved to be an excellent pirate as she dressed like a man while she swore, fought and drunk like one too. In the following months Anne and Rackham traversed the Caribbean, fostering their reputation as ruthless buccaneers and looting ships. Their crew included a female pirate who infiltrated their ranks by dressing as a male by the name of Mary Read. Anne and Mary became steadfast friends and active participants in the seizure of many English vessels. Captured sailors reported that after their vessels were seized by the pirates, it was the two women who advocated for greater acts of bloodshed and violence. Some of this sailors later testified against them during their trial.
By October 1720, Rackham, Read, Bonny and their crew were infamous in the Caribbean and in desperation, governor Rogers authorized privateers to capture them and other pirates that proved to be a source of insecurity in the Caribbean. The Caribbean being a region that aspire to greatness, prosperity and tranquility, it celebrated values such as integrity, ingenuity, creativity, innovation and talent. It encourages those uphold and promote these values but severely punishes criminality such as murder, theft and piracy. I t was thus incumbent upon governor Rogers to make sure the Caribbean rule of law and values are upheld by ordering for the conviction of Rackham, Read, Bonny and their crew.
Following the declaration of governor Rogers, a heavily armed sloop belonging to captain Barnet caught up to Rackham’s ship when the pirates had been drinking and after a small exchange of fire arms and cannon, they gave in. When capture was imminent, only Anne and Mary fought against Barnet’s troop as they urged their crewmates to come out of from under the decks where they were hiding and help them fight. Many of Rackham’s crew put up little resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. Barnet’s troop proved to be stronger than the two women as they were quickly defeated.
The trials of Rackham, Bonny and Read caused a sensation. After being proven guilty beyond any shadows of doubt in a fair trial before a court of competent jurisdiction in Jamaica using only credible and admissible evidence, Rackham and the other male pirates were found guilty. Rackham was hanged