Anne Bonny: Wikis


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Anne Bonny
March 8, 1702(1702-03-08) – April 25, 1782 (aged 80)
Bonney, Anne (1697-1720).jpg
Anne Bonny from a Dutch version of Charles Johnson's book of pirates.
Nickname: Anney
Type: Pirate
Place of birth: Kinsale, Ireland
Allegiance: None
Years active:  ? – October 1720
Base of operations: Caribbean
Commands: None

Anne Bonny (March 8, 1702[1] – possibly April 25, 1782) was a pirate who plied her trade in the Caribbean.


Early life

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, South 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.

Marriage and affair with a pirate

When Bonny was 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl in the stomach with a table knife. Bonny was a red-haired beauty and considered a very good catch. [2] She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. According to legend, James Bonny hoped to win possession of his wife's family estate, but she was disowned by her father.

There is no evidence supporting the story that Anne Bonny started a fire on the plantation in retaliation, but it is known that sometime between 1714 and 1718 she and James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, which was then a pirate hub and base for many pirate operations. It is also true that after the arrival of Governor Woodes Rogers in the summer of 1718, James Bonny became an informant for the governor.[3]

While in the Bahamas, Anne Bonny began mingling with pirates at the local drinking establishments, and met the pirate John "Calico Jack" Rackham, with whom she had an affair. While Rackham and many other pirates were enjoying the King's pardon in the New Providence, James dragged Anne before Gov. Rogers to demand she be flogged for adultery and returned to him. There was even an offer for Rackham to buy her in a divorce-by-purchase, but Anne refused to be "bought and sold like cattle." She was sentenced to the flogging, but later Anne and Rackham escaped to live together as pirates.

Life as a 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 harbour 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 exploits 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 News-Letter.[4]

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.

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.[5]

Disappearance from the record

There is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father ransomed her; that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity. However, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that "Evidence provided by the descendants of Anne Bonny suggests that her father managed to secure her release from jail and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackham's second child. On December 21, 1721 she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had eight children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty and was buried on April 25, 1782."[6]

In popular culture

  • A novel named Pirate Spirit: The Adventures of Anne Bonny by Jeffrey Williams
  • The novel Anne Bonny, Tale of a Lady Pirate by Robert Q. Hoyt
  • The novel The Only Life That Mattered: The Short and Merry Lives of Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Calico Jack Rackam by James L. Nelson
  • An older Anne appears in the novel The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser.
  • A film loosely based (originally) on Bonny's story, Anne of the Indies, was made in 1951 starring Jean Peters in the title role, but the final product had no basis in the facts whatsoever.
  • Bonny, along with Mary Read, is one of the main characters in the webcomic Sea Monsters by Gwendolyn Meer. The story is a modernized adaptation of their lives.
  • In the comic book Witchblade published by Top Cow Productions, Bonny is portrayed as having once wielded the titular weapon.
  • Bonny and Mary Read are featured in the 11th movie of the Detective Conan anime series, Detective Conan: Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure, as a crucial plot point, as Bonny and Read are depicted to have left a treasure in an island 300 years ago.
  • Binnie Barnes plays Bonny in The Spanish Main, a 1945 adventure movie starring Maureen O'Hara and Paul Henreid.
  • Bonny and Read are featured on the wall of Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride.
  • A highly-fictionalised portrayal of Anne Bonny appears in Pirates of Treasure Island, a direct-to-DVD film by The Asylum, in which she is a pirate serving under Long John Silver. She was portrayed by Rebekah Kochan.
  • In the manga/anime series One Piece, the character Jewelry Bonney, a female pirate captain, was partially named after Bonny.
  • The 2002 board game Pirate's Cove published by Days of Wonder contains the six legendary pirate cards one of which is Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
  • Bonny and Read appeared as characters in Pirates for Sky/Discovery Channel, portrayed by Lorna Bennett and Rachel Ferjani.
  • Bonny appears as one of the Set 6 warriors in the card game Anachronism. She is part of the Pirate culture represented in the set, and among her support cards are cards for Calico Jack and "Pleading the Belly".
  • Anne Bonny is a character in the novel, Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones by Erica Jong. ISBN 0393-32435-4
  • In the MMORPG Atlantica Online, Bonny is the "Hero" (upgraded) form of the "Sailor" Mercenary.
  • In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, Annie Bonn, most likely a reference to Anne Bonny, is a character at Scalawag Point.
  • Bonny and Read are featured in the song "The Ballad of Anne Bonny and Mary Read", by Boston band Bread and Roses
  • Bonny was one of the inspirations for the character Etta in the Liveship Traders series of books by Robin Hobb
  • In the children's novel Het goud van de verborgen stad ("Gold of the lost city") (2009) by Dutch author Reggie Naus, the book's heroine idolizes and meets Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
  • Mireille Calmel's books : Lady Pirate : Les valets du roi and La parade des ombres
  • Annie Simpson's paintings and films:


  1. ^ John Carlova, Mistress of the Seas
  2. ^ Meltzer, Milton. Piracy & Plunder: A Murderous Business Dutton Books, 2001, isbn = 0-525-45857-3
  3. ^ Woodard, Colin (2007). The Republic of Pirates. Harcourt, Inc. pp. 139–316-317. ISBN 978-0-15-603462-3. 
  4. ^ Woodard, Colin (2007). The Republic of Pirates. Harcourt, Inc. pp. 317–318. ISBN 978-0-15-603462-3. 
  5. ^ Woodard, Colin (2007). The Republic of Pirates. Harcourt, Inc. pp. 318–320. ISBN 978-0-15-603462-3. 
  6. ^ David Cordingly, "Bonny, Anne (1698–1782)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 18 Nov 2006]


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