Feminine Pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Learn And How They Escaped Dying Sentences

British History | April 20, 2021

Anne Bonny and Mary Learn. (Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis through Getty Pictures)

Hollywood depicts feminine pirates as lusty, tight-bodiced hotties who’re equally expert in combating and pillaging, throwing again pints of rum, and seducing their enemies, however the actuality is barely extra difficult. The pirate world of the Caribbean, which thrived from about 1650–1730, was very a lot a person’s world, however Anne Bonny and Mary Learn managed to sneak in and earn reputations as ruthless feminine pirates—largely by dressing as men.

Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny spent a lot of her childhood pretending to be a boy, so cross-dressing got here naturally to her. Born sometime around 1698 in County Cork, Eire to outstanding legal professional William Cormac and his household’s maid, Anne was offered to the world because the younger son of a distant relative of her father, who saved her hair minimize quick and dressed her in boys’ garments. When the ruse was found, Cormac and Anne’s mom, Mary Brennan, fled Eire in shame for Charleston, South Carolina.

After Brennan’s demise in 1711, Anne ran wild, ingesting on the native taverns into the wee hours of the evening and bedding the fishermen who docked in Charleston. She additionally developed a fierce mood, as soon as beating a person half to demise who had tried to rape her and presumably even fatally stabbing a servant lady who crossed her. Nonetheless, Cormac did not disown his daughter till 1718, when she eloped with James Bonny, a lowly sailor.

Since her new husband was a wannabe pirate, the newlyweds moved to the Bahamas, however James Bonny made more cash as a mole, secretly handing over needed pirates. Whereas he was off turning his cloak, Anne was doing her factor within the native watering holes and getting cozy with a number of true-blue pirates, together with John Rackam, A.Ok.A. Calico Jack. She quickly left her husband to hitch Jack’s crew, and regardless of superstitions towards women on board, Anne lived brazenly on the ship as Jack’s paramour, although she tucked her hair right into a cap and posed as a person throughout battles with service provider ships. Usually, Calico Jack took prisoners, which is how Annie met Mary. 

Bonny from a Dutch model of Charles Johnson’s guide of pirates. (Unknown creator/Wikimedia Commons)

Mary Learn

Like Anne Bonny, Mary Learn was additionally compelled to decorate like a boy as a baby. Her mom had given start to a son simply earlier than her husband died at sea, and her in-laws supplied to financially help the boy till he reached maturity, however after her son died in infancy, she needed to get creative to safe her monetary future. She shortly obtained pregnant and had a second little one, an illegitimate daughter that she named Mary however handed off as her husband’s son. Even after the deception was uncovered, she continued to decorate Mary as a boy and allowed her to take odd jobs that had been sometimes reserved for younger males.

One such office was the British naval fleet, the place she fell in love along with her bunkmate. After she revealed each her emotions and genital configuration, nevertheless, the younger man responded with offensive propositions that Mary rebuffed on the grounds of being a “correct woman,” so he outed her to the remainder of the crew, forcing her to give up her job. With few choices left, she married her former crush, however he died quickly after. On her personal as soon as once more, she resumed life as a person and took a job on a Dutch ship headed for the West Indies, which was attacked by Calico Jack. Assuming she was a fellow Englishman, his males invited her to hitch their pirate crew, a proposal she gladly accepted. Mary slot in nicely with the crew: She drank closely, swore like a sailor, and fought with the perfect of them. Nobody suspected her secret. 

An 1842 sketch of Learn (proper) killing a pirate. (Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

Anne And Mary

In keeping with legend, Anne Bonny tried to seduce their latest crew member, however Mary feared Calico Jack would make her stroll the plank if he caught her in mattress along with his lover, so she revealed her true id. Happy to have one other girl on board, Anne agreed to maintain Mary’s secret, and the 2 turned shut buddies and presumably additionally lovers. Some declare Calico Jack turned jealous of their friendship and threatened to slit Mary’s throat, however on the final second, she saved herself by baring her breasts to him. Like Anne, Calico Jack agreed to maintain Mary’s state of affairs personal.

All the pieces modified on the evening of October 22, 1720, when Anne and Mary noticed one of many governor’s official vessels from the ship’s deck. They sounded the alarm, however a lot of the crew was handed out drunk, so the 2 girls, their captain, and the few considerably sober pirates had been left to their very own gadgets to fend off the fuzz. They had been defeated simply and captured, so the ladies outed themselves with the hope of leniency. It did not work, and all had been discovered responsible of piracy and sentenced to hold, however simply earlier than the ladies’s executions, they each insisted they had been pregnant. A subsequent examination proved they had been telling the reality, and their sentences had been suspended till they gave start.

Mary Learn by no means made it that far. She died of a fever in jail in April 1721, however nobody is aware of for certain what occurred to Anne Bonny. Did she, too, die in jail? Did she escape and dwell out her days below yet one more assumed id? Some consider that her father used his connections to ferry her safely again to Charleston, the place she gave start to Rackam’s little one, remarried, and lived to an impressively superior age for these days, however all the information which may have confirmed which have long been destroyed. Her later life, if she had one in any respect, will possible all the time be shrouded in as a lot legend as the remainder of it.

Tags: 1700s | pirates | women in history

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Karen Harris

Author

Karen left the world of educational, quitting her job as a university professor to put in writing full-time. She spends her days along with her firefighter husband and 4 daughters on a passion farm with an assortment of animals, together with a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a rooster named Chickaletta.


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