Pirates: Calico Jack

Calico Jack Rackham

The Romantic Pirate

"The odd incidents of (his) rambling (life) is such that some may be tempted to think the whole story no better than a novel or romance; but it was supported by many thousand witnesses...," wrote Captain Charles Johnson about the life of Calico Jack, (taken from "Port Royal").

His real name was Jack Rackham, but he was given the name Calico because of his penchant for wearing parti-colored underclothes. He was described as a handsome, dashing man.

Calico Jack began his career of piracy under the command of another notorious pirate, Charles Vane. He was elevated to the rank of captain when the Vane's crew got upset and mutinied, because Vane refused to attack a French ship. Rackham beat the French vessel in battle and secured the loyality of his new crew.

Anne Bonnie

While captain of the Jolly Roger, Calico Jack became famous when he fell in love with Anne Bonney, a female pirate. At this time Rackham had accepted the King's Pardon and settled down in the Bahamas to what was described as a comfortable life. The only catch was that Anne Bonney was married to John Bonney, another well-knwon pirate at the time. When the governor of the Bahamas heard of their on-going affair he greatly disapproved and threatened to lash them in public.

Not Calico's Style

Calico was getting tired of living the life of a retired pirate and when the word got out that Rackham and Anne Bonney were seeing each other, Rackham decided to bolt for the open sea and take Anne Bonney with him. After gathering some old friends, Rackham hijacked a vessel on a stormy night, and again he was free.

While plundering an unsuspecting and killing its crew, the crew of Jack Rackham encountered a woman, disguised as a man, Mary Read with amazing sword fighting abilities. Rackham was so impressed by the fight that she, he spared her and invited her to join his crew. She accepted the offer. Her sex was soon found out and she was welcomed as a woman.

After pillaging the Caribbean for two years, the crew of Rackham was caught off guard close to the coast of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, by Capatain Barnet, a famous pirate hunter. Rackham's crew were drunk and asleep, and the only two people that put up a fight were Bonney and Read, who were dressed as men.

Order in the Court!

The Rackham's crew was captured and put on trial in the Jamaica Court. The jury was stunned to find out Bonney and Read's true identities. Read and Bonney pleaded pregnancy, but Rackham was convicted and hanged. His body hung in chains on island of the coast of Port Royal to stand as a warning to all pirates.