• Famous Pirate: Anne Bonny
• It is hard to separate the legend from the facts
about Anne Bonny. The only thing we can be
sure of is that Anne Bonny was a strong,
independent woman , who was way ahead of
her time. The 18th century, was still a time when
man made all-important decisions, a time when
women did not have many rights. In this men's
world, it was hard for Anne Bonny to become an
equal crewmember and a respected pirate.
• Anne Bonny (March 8, 1702 –
possibly April 25, 1782)
She was an Irish pirate who plied her
trade in the Caribbean.
• Place of birth: Kinsale
• Base of operations: Caribbean
• Much of what is known about Anne Bonny is based on Captain
Charles Johnson's „A General History of the Pyrates‟. Official
records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are
scarce. Most details about her life prior to her arrival in the
Bahamas do not appear to be based on any primary source
evidence, including the claims that she was born between 1697
and 1705 in Kinsale Ireland; that she was a daughter of
attorney William Cormac and his maidservant; William's wife
was named Mary Brennan and her mother was named Peg;
and that, when the affair became public, Cormac moved to
Charleston, Shout Carolina where he made a fortune and
bought a large plantation. He also continued his legal career.
Diligent efforts to source all of these claims continue in earnest
by pirate historians.
Life as pirate
• Bonny did not disguise herself as a man in order to join
Rackham's crew aboard the Revenge as is often claimed. In
fact, she and Mary Read helped Rackham steal the sloop at
anchor in Nassau harbor and set off to sea, putting together a
crew and taking several prizes. She took part in combat
alongside the men, and the accounts describing her, present
her as competent, effective in combat, and someone who
gained the respect of her fellow pirates. She and Mary Read's
name and gender were, however, known to all from the start,
including Gov. Rogers, who named them in a "pirates wanted"
circular published in the continent's only newspaper, The
Boston NewsLetter. Over the next several months, she and
Rackham saw several successes as pirates, capturing many
ships and bringing in an abundance of treasure.
• Although Bonny is one of the best-known pirates in history, she
never commanded a ship of her own. Her renown derives from
the fact that she was a rarity: a female pirate.
• She didn´t have a flag because she didn´t
have a ship of her own.
Capture and imprisonment
• In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a sloop
captained by Jonathan Barnet, who was working for the governor of
JAMAICA. Most of Rackham's pirates did not put up much resistance
as many of them were too drunk to fight; other sources indicate it
was at night and most of them were asleep. However, Read, Bonny,
and an unknown man fought fiercely and managed to hold off
Barnet's troops for a short time. After their capture, Rackham and his
crew were sentenced by the Governor of Jamaica to be hanged.
According to Johnson, Bonny's last words to the imprisoned
Rackham were that she was "sorry to see him there, but if he had
fought like a Man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog."
• After their arrest and trial, Read and Bonny both pleaded their bellies
announcing during the sentencing phase that they were both
pregnant. In accordance with English common law, both women
received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth. Read
died in prison, most likely from a fever, though it has been alleged
that she died during childbirth.
She died in South Carolina, a respectable
woman, at the age of eighty and was buried on
April 25, 1782.