Anne Bonny in Black Sails.

In the tv series, Black Sails, Anne Bonny was a pirate played by actress Clara Paget.

The Pirate Anne Bonny.

The real Anne Bonny was an Irish woman who became a famous pirate, operating in the Caribbean.

Anne Bonny was born around 1700, her birth name was Anne McCormac & her birthplace was Cork, Ireland. She was the daughter of servant woman Mary Brennan & Mary's employer, lawyer William McCormac.

Anne's father William McCormac first moved to London to get away from his wife's family & he began dressing his daughter as a boy and calling her 'Andy'. When discovered, McCormac moved to the Carolinas, taking along his former serving girl, the mother of Anne.

Anne's father dropped the 'Mc' from their Irish name to more easily blend into the Charles Town citizenry. At first, the family had a rough start in their new home, but Cormac's knowledge of law & ability to buy & sell goods soon financed a townhouse & eventually a plantation just out of town.

Anne's mother died when Anne was 12. Her father attempted to establish himself as an attorney but did not do well. Eventually, he joined the more profitable merchant business & accumulated a substantial fortune.

Anne had red hair & was considered a 'good catch', but may have had a fiery temper; at age 13 she supposedly stabbed a servant girl with a table knife. She married a poor sailor & small-time pirate named James Bonny. James hoped to win possession of his father in law's estate, but Anne was disowned by her father.

There is said that Bonny set fire to her father's plantation in retaliation but no evidence exists to prove this. It is known that sometime between 1714 & 1718 she & James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island which was known as a sanctuary for English pirates & was called the Republic of Pirates. Many inhabitants received a King's Pardon or otherwise evaded the law. It is also recorded that after the arrival of Governor Woodes Rogers in the summer of 1718 James Bonny became an informant for the governor.

Anne Bonny & Jack Rackham.

While in the Bahamas Bonny began mingling with pirates in the local taverns. She met John 'Calico Jack' Rackham, captain of the pirate sloop Revenge, they became lovers & had a son in Cuba. Many different theories state that he was left with his family or simply abandoned. Bonny rejoined Rackham & continued the pirate life having divorced her husband & marrying Rackham while at sea.

Bonny, Rackham & Mary Read stole the ship William, then at anchor in Nassau harbour & put out to sea. Rackham & the two women recruited a new crew. Their crew spent years in Jamaica & the surrounding area. Over the next several months they enjoyed success capturing many, albeit smaller vessels.

Bonny took part in combat alongside the men & the accounts of her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat & respected by her shipmates. Governor Rogers had named her in a 'Wanted Pirates' circular published in the continent's only newspaper, The Boston News-Letter.

Although Bonny was historically renowned as a Caribbean pirate, she never commanded a ship of her own.

Capture, imprisonment & disappearance.

In October 1720 Rackham & his crew were attacked by a 'King's ship', a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet under a commission from Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica. Most of Rackham's pirates put up little resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. However, Read & Bonny fought fiercely & managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time.

Rackham & his crew were taken to Jamaica where they were convicted and sentenced by Governor Lawes to be hanged. According to Johnson, Bonny's last words to the imprisoned Rackham were 'Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hanged like a dog.'

After being sentenced Read & Bonny both 'pleaded their bellies', asking for mercy because they were pregnant. In accordance with English common law, both women received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth.

Whilst Read died in prison, most likely from fever from childbirth there is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father ransomed her, that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity.

Some evidence suggests that Anne's father bought her freedom from Jamaican Governor Lawes & married her off to a Jamaican high standard commissioner, where she changed her name to Annabelle & lived her days out, having 8 children & dying at age 88, outliving her husband.