Anne Bonny from a Dutch version of Charles Johnson's book of pirates.
|Born||March 8, 1702
|Disappeared||Port Royal, Jamaica|
|Died||April 22, 1782 (aged 80)
Charleston, South Carolina
|Years active||1718–October 1720|
|Base of operations||Caribbean|
Anne Bonny (c. 1700 – c. 1782) was an Irish pirate operating in the Caribbean, and one of several noted women in piracy. The little that is known of her life comes largely from Captain Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates.
Anne Bonny was born around 1700. Her birth name was Anne Cormac, and her birthplace was Cork, Ireland. She was the daughter of servant woman Mary Brennan and Brennan's employer, lawyer William Cormac. Official records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are scarce and most modern knowledge stems from Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates (a collection of pirate biographies, the first edition accurate, the second much embellished).
Anne's father William Cormac first moved to London to get away from his wife's family and he began dressing his daughter as a boy and calling her "Andy". When discovered, Cormac moved to the Province of Carolina, taking along his former serving girl, the mother of Anne. Anne's father abandoned the original "Mc" prefix of their family name more easily to blend into the Charles Town citizenry. At first the family had a rough start in their new home, but Cormac's knowledge of law and ability to buy and sell goods soon financed a townhouse and eventually a plantation just out of town. Anne's mother died when Anne was 12. Her father attempted to establish himself as an attorney, but did not do well. Eventually, he joined the more profitable merchant business and accumulated a substantial fortune.
It is recorded that Anne had red hair and was considered a "good catch", but may have had a fiery temper; at age 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl with a table knife. She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James hoped to win possession of his father-in-law's estate, but Anne was disowned by her father.
There is a story that Bonny set fire to her father's plantation in retaliation; but no evidence exists in support. However, it is known that, some time between 1714 and 1718, she and James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island, known as a sanctuary for English pirates called the Republic of Pirates. Many inhabitants received a King's Pardon or otherwise evaded the law. It is also recorded that, after the arrival of Governor Woodes Rogers in the summer of 1718, James Bonny became an informant for the governor.
While in the Bahamas, Bonny began mingling with pirates in the local taverns. She met John "Calico Jack" Rackham, captain of the pirate sloop Revenge, and Rackham became her lover. They had a son in Cuba. Many different theories state that he was left with his family or simply abandoned. Bonny rejoined Rackham and continued the pirate life, having divorced her husband and marrying Rackham while at sea. Bonny, Rackham, and Mary Read stole the ship William, then at anchor in Nassau harbour, and put out to sea. Rackham and the two women recruited a new crew. Their crew spent years in Jamaica and the surrounding area. Over the next several months, they enjoyed success, capturing many, albeit smaller, vessels and bringing in abundant treasure.
Some scholars suggest Bonny was in a relationship with Read.
Bonny took part in combat alongside the men, and the accounts of her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and respected by her shipmates. Governor Rogers had named her in a "Wanted Pirates" circular published in the continent's only newspaper, The Boston News-Letter. Although Bonny was historically renowned as a Caribbean pirate, she never commanded a ship of her own.
Capture and imprisonment
In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a "King's ship", a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet under a commission from Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica. Most of Rackham's pirates put up little resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. However, Read and Bonny fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time. Rackham and his crew were taken to Jamaica, where they were convicted and sentenced by Governor Lawes to be hanged. According to Johnson, Bonny's last words to the imprisoned Rackham were: "Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang'd like a dog." 
After being sentenced, Read and Bonny both "pleaded their bellies": asking for mercy because they were 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 from childbirth.
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.
In popular culture
- Bonny is played by Jean Peters in Anne of the Indies (1951).
- Bonny is played by Binnie Barnes in The Spanish Main (1945).
- Bonny, played by Sonia Sorel, is a minor character in Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954).
- Bonny is played by Michelle Michaels in the History Channel documentary True Caribbean Pirates.
- Bonny is played by Clara Paget in the pirate-themed TV series Black Sails.
- Bonny is a non playable character in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and is voiced by Sarah Greene.
- Bonny is the name of track two on industrial hip-hop band Death Grips's album Government Plates.
- A character roughly based on her (Bonnie Anne) is in Pirate101.
- Bonny is also mentioned along with Mary Read in the Case Closed animated film Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure.
- Bonny is the focus of the mystery in the young adult novel Seizure by Kathy Reichs.
- Reference to Bonny is made in the 2016 video game Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, alongside several other real historical pirates. However, the game uses alternate history around her and the other pirates, such as in how they lived and died.
- Bonny is a playable character in Fate/Grand Order as an Archer-class Servant alongside with Mary Read and is voiced by Ayako Kawasumi(Bonny) and Ai Nonaka(Read).
- In the anime and manga series One Piece, Bonny is the loose inspiration for Jewelry Bonney, one of the pirates belonging to the Eleven Supernovas (also known as the Worst Generation). She is the only female member of that group.
- A character based on her named Anne Bonney is portrayed in the novel Captain in Calico by George MacDonald Fraser; another "Anne Bonney" character (although much older and "heavier") appears in Fraser's novel The Pyrates.
- Martha Farley, Mary Read, and Mary Critchett, the other confirmed women active in piracy's Golden Age.
- Christopher Minster. "Biography of Pirate Anne Bonny". About.com Education. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Carlova (1964)
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- Meltzer (2001)
- Johnson (1725)
- Lorimer (2002), pg. 47
- Sharp (2002)
- Woodard, Colin (2007). The Republic of Pirates. Harcourt, Inc. pp. 139, 316–318. ISBN 978-0-15-603462-3.
- Druett, Joan (2000). She Captains : Heroines and Hellions of the Sea. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684856905.
- Canfield, Rob (2001). "Something's Mizzen: Anne Bonny, Mary Read, "Polly", and Female Counter-Roles on the Imperialist Stage". South Atlantic Review: 50.
- Norton, Rictor. "Lesbian Pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read".
- Zettle, LuAnn. "Anne Bonny The Last Pirate".
- "Ann Bonny and Mary Read's Trial". Pirate Documents. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Yolen, Jane; Shannon, David (1995). The Ballad of the Pirate Queens. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. pp. 23–24.
- Carmichael, Sherman (2011). Forgotten Tales of South Carolina. The History Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-60949-232-8.
- Baldwin, Robert (1721). The Tryals of Captain John Rackam and Other Pirates. in The Colonial Office Records in The Public Records Office at Kew, (ref: CO 137/14f.9).
Details the trials of Jack Rackam, Mary Read, Anne Bonny, and Charles Vane.
- Carlova, John (1964). Mistress of the Seas. Citadel Press.
- Cordingly, David. "Bonny, Anne (1698–1782)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 18 Nov 2006.
- Druett, Joan (2000). She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684856905.
- Gosse, Philip; De Marco, Guy Anthony (2015). The Pirate Who's Who (Extended Edition). Amazon: Villainous Press. pp. 52, 53, 54. ISBN 978-1-62225-650-1.
- Johnson, Captain Charles (1724). Hayward, Arthur L., ed. A history of the robberies and murders of the most notorious pirates from their first rise and settlement in the island of Providence to the present year. London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd.
First published in 1724, with the second edition published 1728, both versions attributed to Daniel Defoe. The two editions are very different, with the second edition much less accurate than the first when compared to court records. In the second edition however, no such accuracy is even attempted. In particular,the lurid details of the capture of the merchant ship the Neptune by Charles Vane in September 1718, conflicts entirely with the court records of both Charles Vane and Robert Deal, his quartermaster.
- Lorimer, Sara; Synarski, Susan (2002). Booty: Girl Pirates on the High Seas. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
- Meltzer, Milton; Waldman, Bruce (2001). Piracy & Plunder: A Murderous Business. New York: Dutton Children's Books. ISBN 0-525-45857-3.
- Sharp, Anne Wallace (2002). Daring Pirate Women. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications.
- Zettle, LuAnn (2015). Anne Bonny The Last Pirate. Amazon: Arrowhead Book Co. pp. 8, 9, 11. ISBN 978-0-9826048-6-1.