Bonny was born Anne Cormac in County Cork, Ireland. Mary Brennan,
her mother was the daughter of a servant woman who had an affair
with her employer, lawyer William Cormac. His wife soon discovered
the affair and William Cormac, Mary Brennan, and a young Anne
crossed the Atlantic to flee the scandal . They settled in Charleston,
was soon bored with life on her father's plantation, and was
drawn to a life of adventure. Before Anne was out of her teens
she married James Bonney, a renegade seaman and sometimes
pirate. At this time pirates frequented Charleston. James
planned to steal William Cormac's land through the marriage
but Anne's father disowned her before this could be done.
Legend has it that in retaliation, Anne burned the plantation
to the ground.
fled to Nassau, the pirate haven. It was called New Providence
back then. James proved a coward and a traitor, became a paid
snitch for the governor. Anne preferred the company of the
island's notorious pirates and women and soon distanced herself
After meeting the pirate "Calico Jack" Rackham (nicknamed
for his loud striped pants) she became romantically involved
with him. He had just commandeered a ship full of liquor from
his former boss, pirate captain Charles Vane. When James Bonney
objected to the affair, he abducted Anne, brought her naked
before the governor and charged her with the felony of deserting
him. Calico Jack suggested instead putting Anne up for sale
to the highest bidder because Anne was considered to be stolen
property (a 'kinder' legal practice for divorce at the time).
James got a court order forbidding Jack and Anne to see each
other. Despite Jack's rather less-than-romantic proposal,
Anne ran away with Calico Jack and joined his ship's crew,
apparently disguised as a man.
are many tales of her violent temper, Anne proved a daring
and deadly fighter, using swords and pistols. Her violence
began with her alleged stabbing murder of an English serving-maid
while Anne was a teen on her father's plantation. While on
shore in Nassau she became such an expert fencer. Once she
publicly stripped her fencing instructor with her sword, and
severely beat a man with a chair for making a pass at her.
Who knows how much of this is fictional. Much of the tales
of pirates and outlaws are exaggerated.
exploits at sea gained Anne the most notoriety. While raiding
with Calico Jack, she developed a mutual attraction with Jack's
lieutenant. 'He' turned out to be none other than Mary Read.
It is rumored that they had a lesbian romance after revealing
their gender to each other. They fought with even more courage
than many the men, this they proved in their final battle.
Both were known as bloodthirsty, daring female pirates.
former pirate turned pirate-hunter, Captain Barnet, attacked
Calico Jack's ship in 1720. Barnet caught Rackham and his
crew. Attacking with cannon fire so thick the men hid below
decks. Anne is said to have shouted, "If there's a man
among ye, ye'll come out and fight like the men ye are to
be." When this got no response, they were outraged by
the men's cowardice. Anne and Mary shot the male pirates,
killing one and wounding several including Jack Rackham. Only
Anne Bonney and Mary Read stood their ground, fighting furiously.
But despite Anne and Mary's ferocity, the pirates were captured.
At this time women had no rights whatsoever, however it was
illegal to execute a pregnant woman so Anne and Mary, "plead
their bellies," claiming to be pregnant. All were hanged,
except for Anne and Mary. After the trial, Anne Bonney disappeared
from the historical record. It is rumored she was hanged a
year later, however other rumors were she was granted a reprieve,
some even say she returned to her father, some say her husband.
Even one ridiculous myth says she became a nun.