John Rackham - Calico Jack
(born on 21 December 1682, died on 18 November 1720) was an English pirate captain who was active in
the waters around Bahamas
during the end times of the period today known as "Golden Age of Piracy". Operating under pseudonym Calico Jack (a name he
got for the calico clothing
he wore), he remained remembered in the history for his unique and popular design of Jolly Roger flag (black flag with white
scull, crossed with two
white swords), and for having two female crewmembers - Mary Read and Anne Bonny.
Little is known about John Rackham youth, except that he was born by English parents in Jamaica around the year 1682. He
appeared in the historical
records in 1718 as a quartermaster on Charles Vane's pirate sloop Ranger which operated in the waters around New York. After
encountering large French
military ships, Captain Vale decided that the best course of action was to run. The crew became agitated because of this
action, and John Rackham
started petitioning change of the action. Despite overwhelming dissatisfaction from the majority of the crew, Captain Vale
continued on his course and
escaped the French. At the end of November 1718 Rackham called a vote among the crew, and they all came to decision to
remove "cowardly" captain from
its post. Vale, together with 15 of his supporters left on a well-stocked sloop, and Rackham became captain for the first
time in his life.
In the following year Rackham traveled slowly to the Caribbean, plundering every trade vessel that he
encountered on. After reaching
Nassau in Bahamas he tried to obtain Kings Pardon and enlist to be English privateer against Spanish. However, he managed to
receive only pardon
without the commission.
During that time John Rackham started an affair with Anne Bonny, wife of known pirate
informant James Bonny. After
finding out about her infidelity, James managed to get her in jail and sentenced to whipping, but Rackham managed to set her
free and smuggled her to
his ship, thus voiding his newly obtained King Pardon. In the following months he sailed across Caribbean, fighting
successfully against other pirates
and trade ships. Historians claim that members of his crew knew the true gender of Anne Bonny who fought alongside men as
equal. There are some reports
that she became pregnant with Rackham child, but there was no record of its birth and life. During 1720 another woman joined
Rackham crew, Mary Read
who spent almost her entire life dressed like a man.
John Rackham pirate career came to end when New Providence's governor Woodes Rogers sent Captain Jonathan
Barnet to capture Rackham
and his crew. He managed to do so in the October of 1720 in the Dry Harbor Bay in Jamaica, where he found drunken crew of
Rackham's ship "Revenge".
After a short battle, entire crew was captured a shipped to Spanish Town in Jamaica for quick trial. John
Rackham was executed by
hanging for his acts of piracy on November 18, 1720. His body was tarred and hanged in a cage as a warning to the would-be
pirates near the entrance of
the city Port Royal.