March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Anne Bonny? (Maybe)

Anne Bonny is one of the most famous pirates in history!

She didn't own her own ship, and she wasn't active as a pirate for all that long. The main reason she is famous is because she was a woman. She and another female pirate, Mary Read, along with “Calico Jack” Rackham, stole a ship called Revenge and captured many ships—and a lot of treasure—in the Caribbean Sea around 1720.

Many people have said that Bonny disguised herself as a man and that the other pirates didn't know that she and Read were women. Apparently that wasn't true—certainly Rackham knew they were women, and there is evidence that the rest of the pirate crew knew, too. I bet that men's clothing was more practical for fighting and capturing treasure than was the women's clothing of the time, and that Bonny and Read wore the clothing that was better “on the job,” and that's how the rumor that they pretended to be men got started.

Why did I say that it was maybe Anne Bonny's birthday? Although some sources give March 8, 1702, as her birthday, most sources admit that we aren't terribly sure what year Bonny was born (let alone what month and day!). We do know that she was an illegitimate child born in
Ireland, and we know that she came with her parents to the Carolinas, in the New World, before she was a teenager. (Her mother died shortly after this move.)

When the Revenge was captured by a “King's ship,” in October 1720, Rackham, Read and Bonny were sentenced to be executed. However, the two women claimed to be pregnant and won a “stay of execution.” In other words, the hanging was put off until they delivered their babies. Read died in prison. As for Bonny, there is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution. Some historians believe that her father was able to bail her out of prison and that Bonny lived to be 80 years old!

Pirate Play!

Important Note: Although it is fun to learn about pirates, and even dress up and play-act as pirates, actual pirates were pretty much just thieves and murderers. Johnny Depp's “Jack Sparrow” is probably FAR more likeable than most real pirates were.

Play Seafight, a free online pirate game that doesn't require a download. 

Or do the National Geographic “High-Seas Adventure.” 

Want another pirate game to try? How about Captain Dave's Lost Treasure?  Or you can explore the website of Annie Silverjinks Pirate Kingdom

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