08 Mar Happy Birthday Blog: Anne Bonny
Known For: Irish pirate in the Caribbean
It’s harder to find a more badass broad from history than Anne Bonny. All we know of her life comes from Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates, first published in 1724. Though the source is questionable in its accuracy, stories of Anne and her piracy have long held a fascination within popular culture.
Born in Ireland, to her father, the lawyer William Cormac and her mother, Cormac’s housemaid, she emigrated to the South Carolina colony with her father, after her mother rejected her. She married local sailor/pirate John Bonny and they sailed to the Bahamas. While living in a popular pirate port of New Providence (now Nassau), she met and fell in love with renowned pirate “Calico Jack” Rackham. She left Bonny for Rackham, became pregnant with his child, and started to roam the high seas with her new beau.
Women were considered bad luck abroad ships at the time, and so it was highly unorthodox that Rackham allowed Bonny to stay on the ship with him. Stories of Bonny’s fighting ability and skill at piracy have helped to build her legacy. In 1720, Rackham’s ship was captured and all the crew arrested. Rackham and the other men were hung for piracy, but Bonny and the other woman on board Mary Read, were spared due to their pregnancies.
We don’t really know what became of Bonny. Some records say she died in prison after giving birth, several records state she moved home to South Carolina, remarried, and lived a quiet life in the colonies. It seems hard to believe that a person who found such affinity with sailing and piracy would settle into the role of housewife, but stranger things have happened, and women do what they can to survive.
Since it is Women’s History Month and Irish-American Heritage Month, we thought it an apt time to honor the legacy of Anne – the first recorded woman pirate!
Learn more about Anne here.