On this day in 1720, Calico Jack was captured. He was a notorious pirate of the Caribbean, whose real name was John Rackham. His is an interesting story. In general, pirate ships were democracies. He was quartermaster on Charles Vane’s ship. When Vane ran from a fight, Rackham called a vote and had Vane deposed. Rackham then took over as captain of the ship.
Rackham is also noted for having two crew members who were women. The first was Mary Read — who was pretty much forced into a life of piracy. The second was the much younger Anne Bonny — who was also Rackham’s lover. It’s interesting when you learn the unvarnished histories of long ago, you see a whole lot of sex. And you don’t see women as the gentle creatures that we’ve been taught about. That seems to have been largely a creation of the Victoria period (although certainly women had never had much power before the law).
In 1720, the Bahamas’ governor named Rackham a pirate, and so Jonathan Barnet went off to capture him. He seems to have succeeded thanks mostly to a large fraction of the crew — Rackham very much included — being too drunk to fight. So the attack was led by Mary Read and Anne Bonny. In fact, legend has it that Bonny’s last words to Rackham in jail were, “Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hanged like a dog.” Rackham was indeed hanged soon after.
Both Read and Bonny claimed to be pregnant. By British law, they would be allowed to live until giving birth. Read apparently died in prison from a fever brought on by her pregnancy. Bonny, on the other hand, just disappeared from history. There is no record of her release or execution. According to Wikipedia, the primary theory is that her father (she was illegitimate, but her father was well connected) bought her freedom and married her off in Virginia. By this theory, she went on to have eight children and live into her eighties. I want to believe that.