Anne Bonny

Story by Lois Carol Wheatley

Anne Bonny was an Irish lass, born the illegitimate child of a lawyer and his maidservant, and her appearance in the world publicized the affair and forced the new family to move to the Carolinas. Her father bought a large plantation and might have lived happily ever after if his smart and beautiful daughter hadn't had such a volatile temper and such a gift for finding and/or creating trouble.

She stabbed a servant girl with a knife when she was 13, and took up with a small-time criminal named James Bonny who had his eye on the family fortune. To head that off her father disowned her and she went with Bonny to New Providence in the Bahamas to take up drinking and carousing with the dregs of society.

That's where she met Calico Jack Rackham, who offered to buy her from Bonny. Bonny not only refused but lodged a complaint with the governor, and the pair ran off together aboard the Revenge before punishment could be dispensed.

Women aboard ship were considered bad luck, so female pirates generally kept it secret. Usually they were found out either by being killed or getting pregnant, and Bonny passed herself off as a cabin boy at least until she gave birth. She fought like a man, drank like a man, and already had a certain amount of experience with knifings. She stabbed and killed one of her own men who attempted to assault her.

When pirate hunters eventually captured their ship, the Revenge, it is said that only the women, Bonny and Mary Read, put up anything like a fight. The pirates were brought to justice, all the men were convicted and sentenced to hang, but Bonny and Read both claimed they were pregnant and thereby escaped the noose. Read died in prison in 1721 and Bonny vanished from official records. It's possible her wealthy father paid for her release.

Terms: North Carolina Pirates, Anne Bonny

Information on North Carolina Pirate Anne Bonny.

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