Whilst in port Rackham began an affair with Anne Bonny, wife of James Bonny, a former pirate turned informant for the British government. After finding out about the relationship, James Bonny brought Anne to Governor Rogers, a close friend, who ordered her whipped on charges of adultery. Rackham offered to buy Anne in a “divorce by purchase,” but she refused to be sold like an animal. Anne Bonny The pair (with a new crew) escaped to sea together, voiding Rackham’s pardon, by tricking guards on the British ship “Curlew.” They sailed the Caribbean for several months, overtaking other pirate ships. Often Rackham would invite the crew of ships he attacked to join his own.
The majority of Rackham’s crew is believed to not have known Bonny’s true sex. According to most accounts, Anne soon became pregnant with Rackham’s child, variously stating that there are no records of the birth or that Anne gave birth in Cuba but the baby was premature and died of a tumor. Some time after the pregnancy Rackham happened upon a Dutch merchant vessel, upon which Mary Read was a sailor. Mary “Mark” Read was an illegitimate child from England born sometime around 1690. Read’s mother would dress her like a boy to pass her off as her older deceased brother, as well as to obtain financial support from Mary’s paternal grandmother.
Mary Read and Anne Bonny
As a teenager Read ran away and joined the army, there she fell in love with another soldier, married and opened an inn in Holland. A few years later her husband met an untimely death. Mary decided to dress like a man and go to sea. Not originally realizing her gender, Rackham welcomed Mary Read aboard his ship to join his crew.
Anne Bonny started to have feelings for Read, and after flirting with Read, Mary revealed her sex to Anne by exposing her breasts. Rackham, becoming jealous of the amount of attention Bonny was giving Mary Read, threatened to kill Read. Rackham reportedly burst in upon them in a cabin, finding them partially undressed. Despite learning the secret of her sex, Rackham nevertheless welcomed Mary into his crew. Others hold that Mary fell in love with a different male crew member.
During the autumn of 1720 Rackham cruised near Jamaica, capturing numerous small fishing vessels, and terrorizing fishermen and women along the northern coastline. During November 1720, he came across a small vessel filled with nine English pirates. Soon after, Rackham’s ship was attacked by an armed sloop sent by Governor Nicholas Lawes, and was captured. Rackham and his crew were brought to Jamaica, where he and nearly all of his crew members were sentenced to be hanged.