CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- It’s Wednesday and that means it is time to explore the history that surrounds the Lowcountry. This week, we dive into the legend of notorious female pirate, Anne Bonny.
Although the exact date is unknown, Bonny is said to have been born in the late 1600s in Cork County, Ireland. The illegitimate daughter of lawyer, William Cormac, and his domestic servant, Mary Brennan, Anne emigrated to Charles Towne with her parents when she was a child. Her mother died shortly thereafter.
In 1718, Anne married a small-time pirate named James Bonny, of whom her father disapproved. Known for her temper, it is rumored that Anne burned the plantation where her family lived after her father kicked her out.
Anne and James moved to an island in the Bahamas that was known as a sanctuary for English pirates. James eventually became an informant for the governor of the Bahamas on pirate activity. Disillusioned with her marriage, Anne became involved with another pirate, John “Calico Jack” Rackham.
In 1720, Anne left her husband and joined Calico Jack’s pirate crew (aboard the William), and participated in the seizure of multiple vessels along the coast of Jamaica. It is rumored that Bonny disguised herself as a man when pillaging, so she could engage in armed conflict. At the time, it was highly unusual to have a woman aboard a pirate ship.
In October 1720, Bonny and the crew of William were captured and sentenced to death. Rackham and the rest of the crew were hanged shortly after. Bonny, however, was rumored to be pregnant, so she was spared execution and returned back to her father in Charles Towne.
The remainder of Anne Bonny’s life and death is relatively unknown, with tales ranging from another marriage in South Carolina to the ownership of a tavern in Southern England.
Now, locals and tourists alike allege to have seen the ghost of Anne Bonny roaming around various spots in Charleston, such as the Powder Magazine and the Pink House.