So X marks the moment I lost it over Pirate Camp.
Over March Break this year both my girls went to Pirate Camp.
I loved the swashbuckling theme and fun.
Then they came home one day all excited because Ariel and Captain Jack had come to camp to meet them!
Until my eldest informed me that Ariel told them all about how Jack Sparrow was her father.
I asked her if anyone had called Ariel out on that obvious piece of misinformation.
Because EVERYONE knows King Triton is Ariel’s daddy.
Am I right or am I right?
But then it got better.
She told me about how then they did this game where all the girls were mermaids and all the boys were pirates.
I asked why the boys got to be pirates.
Because the girls are mermaids!
I asked if any of the girls wanted to be pirates.
No mommy. The girls can’t be pirates. The girls are mermaids.
I asked if any boys wanted to be mermen.
Despite just having done the whole King Triton fact check that was met with blank stares of complete incomprehension.
Boys can’t be mermaids mommy and girls can’t be pirates.
I get they were going for a simple division of kids for the purposes of a game but come on!
Suffice to say that sent me questing for some female pirates.
With a short bit of searching, I was THRILLED to find Anne Bonny.
She was an Irish woman who became a famous pirate operating in the Caribbean. Born around 1700, Anne McCormac was the daughter of servant woman Mary Brennan and Brennan’s employer, lawyer William McCormac.
Wikipedia reports that William McCormac first moved to London to get away from his wife’s family and began dressing his daughter as a boy. He later moved to the Carolinas, taking Anne’s mother with him. Over time the family first financed a townhouse in Charles Town and then a plantation. Anne’s father became a profitable merchant.
As for Anne, while considered a “good catch”, she had a temper and supposedly stabbed a servant girl with a table knife at age 13. She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny, who hoped to win his father-in-law’s estate through the marriage, but Anne was instead disowned.
Sometime between 1714 and 1718, she and James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island, known as a sanctuary for English pirates. There, she met John “Calico Jack” Rackham, divorced her husband, married Rackham and continued the pirate life. Bonny, Rackham, and Mary Read – another female pirate (!!!) – stole the ship William, and recruited a new crew which then spent years in Jamaica and the surrounding area.
Bonny took part in combat alongside the men, and accounts of her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and respected by her shipmates.
In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a “King’s ship”. Most of Rackham’s pirates put up little resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. However, Read and Bonny fought fiercely and managed to hold off the troops for a short time. Rackham and his crew were taken to Jamaica, where they were convicted and sentenced to be hanged.
Bonny’s last words to the imprisoned Rackham rather famously were:
If you had fought like a man you needn’t be hanged like a dog.
After being sentenced, Read and Bonny both “pleaded their bellies”, meaning they asked to be spared because they were pregnant. Read died in prison, but there is no historical record of Bonny’s release or of her execution.
This has fed speculation that she survived. Some evidence suggests that Anne’s father bought her freedom and married her off to a Jamaican high standard commissioner, where she changed her name to Annabele and lived her days out, having 8 children and dying at age 88, outliving her husband.
If that’s enough to pique your interest in Anne, I also discovered that there is a TV Show called Black Sails, set about two decades before Treasure Island during the “Golden Age of Piracy” and featuring fictionalized versions of real life pirates including Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham.
So shall we summarize?
What do I think of pirates as some sort of boys club? To use a common children’s book theme:
This is not my pirate (warning, he uses some naughty words):
Anne Bonny is my pirate.