Skip to main content

Anne Bonny

(Female pirate)

Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny (also, Ann Bonny, or Anne Bonney) was one of two famous female pirates of the Caribbean. She sailed on the crew of Calico Jack Rackham. Anne was Calico's lover but she could be counted as none the less fearless of any other pirate. She was born in County Cork, daughter of an attorney and his Maid. The lawyer split Ireland in disgrace but found fortune in the Carolinas. There, he amassed a fortune and bought a large plantation.

A ne'er-do-well pirate/sailor named James Bonny married Anne in an attempt to steal the plantation but Anne's father disowned her instead. James Bonny then took Anne to the Bahamas where he turned stool pigeon to Woodes Rogers, turning in any sailor he didn't like as a pirate for a handsome reward.

Anne quickly grew to dislike her spineless husband and quickly caught the eye of one Calico Jack, a pirate of some renown. Governor Rogers had recently passed an amnesty for all pirates which basically left Bonny out of work.

Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham

The admiration between Anne and Jack was mutual. Calico Jack was a handsome man who knew how to spend money as well as steal it. Anne was a well endowed lass with a fiery spirit and temper that matched that of any man. It was rumored that in her youth, she even killed a servant woman with a carving knife because the servant made her mad.

In any event, Calico offered to buy Anne from James Bonny but Bonny instead took the matter up with Governor Rogers, who said that Anne was to be flogged and returned to her true husband. That night Calico Jack and Anne slipped into the harbour, stole a sloop and began a life of piracy together.

Anne fought in men's clothing, was an expert with pistol and cutlass and considered as dangerous as any male pirate. She was fearless in battle and often was a member of any boarding party.

In October of 1720 retribution was close at hand. The Governor of Jamaica, hearing of Calico's presence sent an armed sloop to intervene and capture the Captain and crew. Calico's ship Revenge, was caught by surprise and much to Anne's dismay, the pirates fought like cowards and were taking far too easily.

Anne and Mary Read, were also captured but upon capture confessed there "sex" and "pleaded their bellies". After being examined and found with child, Anne and Mary were tired separately and sentenced to be hanged.

Mary Read escaped the hangman by dying from fever while in jail. Anne however, received several stays of execution before mysteriously vanishing from official records. This was actually a common occurrence for women in Anne's circumstance. After the birth of the child the courts would show mercy on the woman for the sake of the child. Rumors abound as to where Anne went after she disappeared from court records. The most popular story claims that her father, who had contacts in the island, forgave his daughter for her acts and ransomed her back to the Carolinas where she assumed a new name and a new life.

Had Mary Read not died in jail and had her child lived; it is likely she would have received a pardon as well.

On a side note just to show how tough she was, when Calico Jack was granted a special favour to see Anne on the day he was to hang, Anne's words to him were, "I'm sorry to see you here, but if you'd have fought like a man you needn't hang like a dog.

What did Anne Bonny look like?

Pirate Anne Bonney

Famous early woodblock, edited and colorized by BlindKat Publishers, 2007

Profile picture for user Tobias Gibson

The only author and editor of all pages on the site. Most of what I write about is based on years of book reading on the topic. My first web page was published back in 1994.

Updated: 04 September 2022