Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham


Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham Famous memorial

Death 17 Nov 1720 (aged 37)
Port Royal, Saint Andrew, Jamaica
Burial Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID 13279407 View Source

Pirate. Believed to have been born in Bristol, England as John Rackham, the record of his early life is almost entirely missing. He first appeared in the historical record as the quartermaster of the 'Ranger' under pirate Charles Vane in 1718. When the 'Ranger' engaged a heavily armed French warship, and was outmatched, Vane decided to run for it, despite the fact that most of the crew, led by Rackham, were in favor of fighting. A vote was later taken, and Vane was removed on charges of cowardice and Rackham was elected the new captain. Vane was marooned with some 15 other pirates who had supported his decision to run. The new captain earned the nickname 'Calico Jack' for his taste for clothes, often made of brightly colored Indian Calico cloth. He also designed a new flag for his command; a black field with a white skull over two crossed swords, a design that has since gained almost universal fame as 'the' pirate flag. The crew under Rackham raided merchant shipping, and in December of 1719, he captured the 'Kingston' a notable prize, but as he had made the run in view of Port Royal, the merchants he had effectively stolen from hired bounty hunters to go after him. They did manage to retrieve the prize, but the pirate himself escaped them. The severity of the setback, however, had the captain sailing for Nassau, where he accepted an amnesty from Governor Woodes Rogers. There he also began an affair with Anne Bonny, the wife of an informant for Rogers. The pair fled Nassau, stealing a sloop and nullifying the amnesty. With a return to piracy, they raided low end shipping until they had to sail to Cuba for Anne to give birth. While there, she met Mary Read, whom she recruited for Rackham's crew. In August 1720, they stole an armed sloop, the 'William,' from port in Nassau. Governor Rogers declared them pirates, and placed a bounty on them. Jonathan Barnet and Jean Bonadvis, former pirates turned bounty hunters, soon spotted the sloop and approached, only to be fired on. The drunken crew of the 'William' refused to surrender, but because of their condition, they were captured after only a brief battle, with legend reporting only the female members of the crew fighting well, and Rackham surrendering, requesting quarter. Barnet transported the 19 pirates to the Spanish Town, Jamaica, where they were convicted of piracy and sentenced to be hanged. During his trial, Anne Bonny was supposed to have famously told Rackham "Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang'd like a dog." Rackham and four of his crew were executed at Port Royal on 18 November 1720. His body was tarred and gibbeted and left on display on the islet at the entrance to Port Royal, Deadman's Cay (present day Rackham's Cay). As was the standard procedure, the body was left on display until it decomposed.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Brian Macdonald
  • Added: 9 Feb 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 13279407
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham (21 Dec 1682–17 Nov 1720), Find a Grave Memorial ID 13279407, ; Maintained by Find a Grave Burial Details Unknown.