Anne Bonny was born in Kinsale in 1702. She moved to America with her parents and married small-time pirate James Bonny. The newlyweds soon ran off to the Caribbean.
Bonny grew tired of her husband and became taken with another pirate, Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham. The two got married at sea and successfully sailed the Caribbean seas, capturing several ships and gaining treasure.
Bonny became renowned around the seas and islands. She made no attempt to disguise herself as a man, and was a competent sailor and swordswoman when necessary. Anne Bonny was on the same ship as Mary Read and they became known as The Pirate Queens.
In 1720, Rackham’s ship was seized by the King’s sailors. Most of the crew were unable to resist as they were either asleep or drunk, but Bonny and a couple of others fought bravely before they were eventually captured. Rackham was hanged with Bonny’s last words to him reportedly being: “I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man then you need not have been hanged like a dog.”
Bonny was spared the death penalty as she was pregnant, instead being put in prison. There is a mystery surrounding what happened to Bonny next. There is no historical record of her death or release from prison.
Several theories have been put forward as to her fate. She may have been executed in prison and the death swept under the carpet by officials. Some think that her estranged father might have put up the money for her bail, or that she returned to her first husband, James Bonny. She may also have escaped and set sail back into the Caribbean under a new identity.
A film has been made about her life by Ridley Scott. The song at the end of the film is the haunting Irish ballad, The Parting Glass.
Did you know Bob Dylan’s The Restless Farewell (from his album The Times They Are A Changing) is a reworking of The Parting Glass?
Read about the history of The Parting Glass with links to videos.