John Rackham was nicknamed Calico Jack because he commonly wore clothing made of calico (a special cloth from Calcutta, India). Calico Jack began his pirate career as a quartermaster on a ship belonging to Charles Vane. When Vane decided to split his crew into two ships, Rackham was chosen as captain of the second. After a quarrel over liquor, Vane and Rackham split up and went their separate ways. Soon after, the governor of Jamaica sent vessels to capture Rackham and his men. Calico Jack and his crew jumped overboard and escaped in two small boats.
|They sailed to Providence to seek a pardon from the governor. They were granted the pardon in May of 1719 and many of the crew wandered off to join trading ships or become privateers. It was on the island of Providence that Rackham met Anne Bonny and fell in love. Anne was married to James Bonny, a retired pirate who wasn't very enthused about letting her go. James threatened to report the two to the governor for proper, punishment, but Rackham and Bonny fled the island August 1719, in a stolen ship named William. The two lovers returned to piracy with a vengeance after months of law-abiding citizenship.|
After years of terrorizing the Carribean, working together to plunder hundreds
of ships, Anne became pregnant. Rackham insisted that they leave
the baby with a family in Cuba, and Anne agreed. The two sailed to
the Carolinas, knowing that the governor was friendly to pirates.
In the Carolinas, they picked up a new crew member, later to realize that
he was actually a woman in disguise. This woman, Mary Read, and Anne
Bonny became good friends.
Anne became pregnant again and Rackham sailed his ship toward Cuba again. He had reached the western tip of Jamaica when their luck ran out. One of the governor's sloops surprised them during the night. The men were roused by Bonny and Read and attempted to escape. The Williamwas overtaken and Captain Barnet, captain of the Governor's ship, led a boarding party onto the deck of the pirate vessel. The women were the only ones to put up a fight, the men being too drunk to defend themselves. The pirates were captured and taken to Port Royal to stand trial. "Calico Jack" Rackham was tried on November 27th and hanged the very next day.