Jack "Calico" Rackham
Jack Rackham
Captain "Calico" Jack Rackham

John Rackham, also known as Calico Jack Rackham or Calico Jack, is an English pirate captain whose nickname is derived from the colourful calico clothes he wore. Rackham is notedfor employing two female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, in his crew.

Becoming Captain

Rackham was quartermaster on a ship that belonged to Charles Vane. While cruising in northern waters, the ship encountered a French warship. Vane decided to retreat rather than board the warship. The crew mutinied against him, left him on a beach in New England and sailed away in his ship, a Brig that Vane called 'Ranger' but which was renamed "The Treasure". They made Rackham their new captain. He later successfully boarded and took over the French vessel. The very same day he was made captain, he plundered several small vessels, earning him a good reputation with the crew.

While drinking in a tavern in New Providence, he met a woman named Anne Bonny. He decided to court her, and eventually asked if she would like to come along pirating with them. She agreed and dressed as a man so the crew would take little notice in her. One day, they raided a small merchant vessel near the West Indies. Most of the crew had been killed and they had one man cornered. They asked if the man would join their crew rather than be run through with a cutlass, an offer to which he agreed. Bonny befriended the young man, and became his constant companion, igniting Rackham's jealousy. He confronted the man, who admitted to being a woman in disguise. The new sailor was, in fact, Mary Read. 

Rckham traded the Brig 'Treasure' for a larger Barque which he named 'Revenge'.

Barque 'Revenge'

The 'Revenge' has 28 cannon and she carries a crew of 88 including the famous 'Anne Bonney' and 'Mary Read'

Rackham's Flag
'Calico' Jack Rackham's flag       

Anne Bonney                                                              Anne Bonney

Anne Bonny, was born in County Cork, Ireland, was a daughter of attorney William Cormac and his maidservant. Her mother was named either Mary or Peg Brennan. When the affair became public, Cormac, with his new wife and newborn child, left Ireland for Charleston, South Carolina, where he made a fortune and bought a large plantation.

Bonny is intelligent, attractive, and quick-tempered. When she was 13, she stabbed a servant girl in the stomach with a table knife. At 16, she married a sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James Bonny apparantly hoped to win possession of his wife's family estate, but she was disowned by her father.

Anne started a fire on the plantation in retaliation. James Bonny then took his new bride to New Providence, where he became an informant for Governor Woodes Rogers.

Anne Bonny began mingling with pirates at the local drinking establishments, and met the pirate John "Calico Jack" Rackham, with whom she shortly thereafter had an affair. Rackham offered to buy her from her husband in a divorce-by-purchase, but James Bonny refused. He complained to the governor, who brought her before the court, naked, and sentenced her to be flogged and to return to her legal husband. Anne Bonny and Rackham instead eloped.

Mary Read                                                                     Mary Read

Mary Read was born in London to the widow of a sea captain. When Mary's older brother, the legitimate child in the family, died, Mary's mother began to disguise her as a boy, so as not to lose the financial support the child received from his paternal grandmother. The grandmother was apparently fooled, and Read and her mother lived on the inheritance into her teenage years. Still dressed as a boy, Read then found work as a footboy but became bored with the position and instead found employment aboard a ship.

However, excessive amounts of abuse led her to jump ship and join the British military. Read proved herself through battle and fell in love with a fellow sailor. She and the sailor married and, with his military commission, opened an inn named "The Three Horseshoes".

For the first time in her life, Read lived life as a woman. She and her new husband lived happily until his tragic death, at which time Read again returned to military service disguised as a man, using her husband's clothes. But the military had lost its spark to Read, so she quit and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies.

While at sea, Read's ship was attacked and captured by the notorious pirate "Calico" Jack Rackham and his companion, the female pirate Anne Bonney.

Read, still dressed as a man, was soon recruited to Rackham's crew where she became familiar with Bonny. She and Bonny became close companions, and one day Bonney walked in on Read undressing and thus accidentally discovered her secret. The two women did quickly become close friends, and Bonney swore not to reveal that Read was really a woman. However, Read's true gender did not remain hidden for long. Rackham became suspicious of Bonny's close relationship with the new sailor and demanded an explanation, whereupon Read confessed that she was actually a woman. Rackham allowed her to stay on as a member of his crew.

Rackham shortly thereafter revealed to his crew that Read was female, but it seems to have had no negative effect on her service on board the ship and she is accepted as Bonney has been.

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