Bonny (or Bonney) (1700?-1782?) - This famous lady pirate
known for her violent temper and ferocious fighting, operated
in the Caribbean, along with the likes of "Calico Jack"
Rackham and fellow lady pirate, Mary Read.
Irish by birth, she was thought to have been born around 1700
in Cork, Ireland. Born as Anne McCormac, she was the the
illegitimate daughter of servant woman, Mary Brennan, and
Brennan's employer, a lawyer named William McCormac.
Afterwards, William's wife made his adultery public,
causing his business to decline and McCormac moved to London,
taking along his mistress and daughter. There, he began
dressing Anne as a boy, and calling her "Andy."
McCormac then moved them to the Carolinas, where he dropped
the "Mc" from his Irish name in order to blend in more easily
in Charles Town (now
There, her father attempted to establish himself as an
attorney, but did not do well. Eventually, he joined the more
profitable merchant business and accumulated a substantial
fortune. Anne's mother died when she was just 12.
teenager, Anne was described as having red hair and was
considered a "good catch", but she also had a temper and was
said to have stabbed a servant girl with a table knife at the
age of 13. Though she was considered a highly eligible wife
for many men and her father had betrothed her to a local man,
Anne resisted. Instead, she eloped with a poor sailor at the
age of 16, who also happened to be a small-time pirate. Named
James Bonny, legend has it that he hoped to eventually come
into possession of his father-in-law's estate, but that would
never happen because Anne was disowned by her father after
time between 1714 and 1718, she and James Bonny moved to
Nassau, on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, which was
known as a sanctuary for English pirates, so much so, it was
called the Republic of Pirates. There, many of the residents
received a King's Pardon for having evaded the law. When
Governor Woodes Rogers arrived in the summer of 1718, James
Bonny became a pirate informant for the governor in exchange
for a pardon for his past illegal endeavors.
While in the Bahamas, Anne Bonny began mingling with pirates
in the local taverns, where she met
John "Calico Jack" Rackham,
the former captain of a pirate ship. Disenchanted by her
marriage, she became involved with Rackham who offered to pay
her husband to divorce her -- a common practice at the time --
but James Bonny refused.
was determined however, and left with Calico Jack in August,
1720 assisting in commandeering a sloop and, along with a new
crew, began pirating merchant vessels along the
coast of Jamaica. Rackham’s decision to have Bonny accompany
him was highly unusual, as women were considered bad luck
aboard ships. Bonny did not conceal her gender from her
shipmates, though when pillaging she disguised herself as a
man and participated in armed conflict.
Along the line, Anne became
pregnant and and would give birth to a son in Cuba. What
became of the boy remains unknown. Bonny quickly returned to
the pirate life.
next thing you know, the pair were joined by another lady
pirate named Mary Read and the trio stole a ship called
William, then at anchor in Nassau harbor. They then
recruited a new crew and went a pirating, enjoying success
over the next several months, capturing a number of small
vessels and keeping the cargo. When in combat, Anne took part
right alongside the men and the accounts of her exploits
present her as competent, effective, and respected by her
shipmates. And though she became to be renowned as a Caribbean
pirate, she never commanded her own ship.