John Rackham became better known as "Calico Jack" during a short but very successful career as a Pirate Captain. During barely a four year tumultuous period he and his crew achieved a highly acclaimed fame as ruthless and ferocious Pirates throughout the Caribbean and the West Indies.
The high points of Calico Jack's short but eventful career can be summarized into just a few words, he first achieved prominence when he deposed Charles Vane as Captain of the Pirate ship the Treasure, then in 1717 he smuggled Anne Bonny to sea disguised as a man where the duo were soon joined by a further female Pirate, Mary Read, Calico Jack's Lieutenant who revealed her true identity in response to advances from Anne Bonny. He then successfully led the capture of a large and rich Spanish Man-o-war ship and finally, was captured by the King's ship, the Barnet, a Pirate hunter. After trial he was hanged in Jamaica in 1720. A very final end to a short but highly flamboyant and ruthless career.
John Rackham ranks as one of the most notorious of pirates. Whilst not as well known as Captain Morgan his high-seas Pirate exploits are equally as notorious as his sexual exploits and the unusual comings & goings that took place aboard his ship, the Adventure. Nicknamed "Calico Jack" for the shirt and breeches of white calico sailcloth he habitually wore, he was a fearful rogue backed up by two of the fiercest Pirates of their time ... Anne Bonny & Mary Read.
The first mention of John Rackham is in 1717 as Charles Vane's quartermaster aboard the Treasure. He first gained real prominence when Vane failed to raid a promising French vessel and Calico Jack, caused the crew to mutiny and deposed Vane as Captain. There followed a brief but successful career highlighted by his duo of deadly female Pirates. The two ladies were widely feared by the crew and were responsible for the deaths of many Sailors including shipmates that crossed their path.
After falling in love with Anne in New Providence, Calico Jack and Anne Bonny unable to separate ran away to sea after Anne's husband had tried to stop their association with the intervention of the Governor. Smuggling her aboard the ship dressed as a man, they continued their romance in secret whilst Anne established her reputation as a fearsome Pirate. Unfortunately, Anne's wanton nature caused her to actively pursue sexual liaisons with other crew members, eventually setting her sights on the most feared Pirate on board, Mary Read. To the surprise of both Mary Read was herself disguised as a man and this was the start of the fearsome trio's sexual and Pirating exploits.
Unfortunately it appears that Calico Jack did not take well to Anne's flirtatious nature and his command and authority appeared to slide. Seeking solace in innumerable bottles of rum, Anne and Mary assumed the real leadership roles aboard the ship as women since they no longer had to hide their true sex with the pretence of masculinity.
The ignoble end to the exploits of Calico Jack occurred when the ship was eventually cornered by a King's vessel captained by Barnet, subjected to a hail of cannon fire, Calico Jack Rackham and his crew were easily captured. The moment of battle occurred at a very opportune time as most of the crew including Calico Jack were languishing in the hold the worse for wear from an alcoholic binge. Only Anne Bonny and Mary Read attempted to resist the attack, the rest of the crew were below decks in the depths of a drunken stupor.
Transported in irons to Jamaica for trial, Calico Jack and his crew were tried on November 16, 1720, before Sir Nicholas Laws. Despite repenting his Pirate acts as he had successfully done previously, Calico Jack Rackham was not spared and was hanged at Gallows Point, Port Royal later that same year.