Another misconception is that all pirates were men. “It wasn’t a boys-only club,” Fryar says. Anne Bonny, born circa 1700 of an affair between Irish attorney William Cormack and his maid servant, was one of the more well-known female pirates of the Carolinas. “When the affair became known, Cormack moved his family to the Carolinas and became rich off a large plan-tation. Anne was known for her temper. When she was 13, as the story goes, she stabbed a servant girl with a knife in a fit of anger,” Fryar says. Anne married pirate James Bonny and the two moved to the Bahamas, where she had an affair with English pirate captain Jack Rackham, commonly known as Calico Jack. “When she and Jack stole a ship, which they named the Revenge, and set to sea as pirates, she proved herself capable to the other members of the crew,” Fryar says. “She drank as a man, fought as a man and killed as a man. And Anne wasn’t the only female pirate onboard the Revenge. Anne discovered Mary Read when she walked in on Read when she was dressing one day. Mary had been disguising herself as a boy.” In Mary’s early adult life, she ran an inn with her husband in England. After her husband died, she used his old uniform to fool British army recruiters into thinking she was a man. Mary soon grew tired of life in the army, so she deserted and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies. In 1721, pirate hunters under Captain Jonathan Barnett, a privateer with orders from the governor of Jamaica, captured Calico Jack and his crew. Jack and his men were sentenced to hang, but Bonny and Read both escaped by claiming to be pregnant. “Upcoming motherhood did nothing to solve Anne Bonny’s pirati-cal nature,” Fryar says. “In the hours she was allowed to see Jack Rackham before he was to hang, she said, ‘I’m sorry to see you here, but if you’d fought like a man, you’d need not hang like a dog.’” Read died in prison in 1721 and Bonny disappeared from the his-tory books shortly after. Not all buccaneers came from rugged backgrounds. Stede Bonnet, an educated Englishman who ran a sugar plantation in the BY ANUSHKA HOLDING 26 WBM july 2016 Barbados, abandoned his comforts for a life of piracy by buying his own pirate ship. “As one story has it, Bonnet’s sharp- tongued wife drove him to piracy. Perhaps he decided he’d rather risk hanging from the gallows than live with that woman anymore,” Fryar says. “He bought a sloop and outfitted it with 10 cannons. Pirates never did that; they usually stole the ships.” Bonnet, who served as a major in the British army before relocating to Barbados, knew little about running a ship. He ran into Blackbeard in 1718. Under the pretense of work-ing together, the experienced pirate essentially took over Bonnet’s ship. Bonnet eventually regained command and gained some notoriety. Then, in August of 1718, he sailed into an estuary of the Cape Fear River, near Southport, to careen his ship. The vessel was spotted and reported to the governor of South Carolina, Robert Johnson. The illustration of Anne Bonny and Mary Read is from Captain Charles Johnson’s “A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates,” the book that historian Kevin Duffus says is responsible for much of the mythology around Blackbeard. Anne took to piracy after marrying James Bonny (inset), but later had an affair with John “Jack” Rackham, better known as Calico Jack (right).
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