High Seas Pirates: Calico Jack – Anne Bonny Mary Read…

Anne Cormac was born around 1700 in Kinsdale, County Cork, Ireland to parents William Cormac a lawyer and Mary Brennan his servant.  They moved to North America, where her father had a shaky start to his new life, until he joined a merchant business and made his fortune.

Aged 13, Anne stabbed a servant girl with a table knife, displaying her fiery temper.  Later she married James Bonny a small-time pirate, and was disowned by her father.  Around 1714, she moved to New Providence Island, better known as “Pirates Republic.”

In 1718 James Bonny became informer to the Governor; Woodes Rogers.

Mary Read was born in Plymouth around 1690, and when her father a sailor went to sea and never returned, her life would change.  Mary was dressed in boy’s clothes by her mother to receive financial aid, and found dressed as a male had its advantages.

She later married a soldier, and they owned the “Three Horseshoes” in Breda, Holland, sadly he died and the money ran out.

She dressed again as a man, going to sea on a Dutch merchant ship bound for the Caribbean’s.  Bored of her legitimate life, she joined “Calico Jack” after he had taken over their ship and turned pirate.

Anne Bonny and Mary Read became close friends, discovering each other’s cross dressing secret.

Bonny became the lover of pirate; “Calico Jack” captain of the Revenge.  Bonny divorced her husband James and married Calico Jack at sea, and had his child in Cuba.

Bonny, Calico Jack and Mary Read took the Revenge and recruited a new crew, spending much time in the area’s surrounding Jamaica.  They were fear by many ships…

In October of 1720 they came under attack by a “King’s Ship” commanded by Jonathan Barnet commissioned by the Governor of Jamaica.  They were overwhelmed, captured, convicted and sentenced to be hanged as pirates.

After the sentence had been passed, both Anne Bonny and Mary Read, pleaded their cause to the court, asking for mercy, as they were both with child.  In accordance with English common law, both women were given a stay of execution until they gave birth.  Mary Read died in prison from a fever prior to childbirth.  As for Bonny; no records indicate her release or execution.

Some accounts suggest her father paid for her release, and after the child was born, she settled down for a quiet life on a Caribbean Island.

On the other hand, her father paid for her release, according to historical records.  She gave birth to Jack Rackham’s (Calico Jack’s) child in 1721, married one Joseph Burleigh and gave birth to a further eight children and died on the 25th April 1782 in South Carolina.

Another account suggests her father paid for her release and she lived out her life as a tavern owner in the South of England, telling tales to the locals of her exploits…

What is fact?  What is Legend?

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