Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hanged and gibbeted

John Rackham (27 December 1682 – 18 November 1720), commonly known as Calico Jack, was a Cuban-English pirate captain operating in the Bahamas and in Cuba during the early 18th century (Rackham is often spelled as Rackam or Rackum in historical documentation, and he is also often referred to as Jack Rackham). His nickname derived from the calico clothing he wore, while Jack is a diminutive of "John".

Active towards the end (1718–20) of the "golden age of piracy" (1690–1730) Rackham is most remembered for two things: the design of his Jolly Roger flag, a skull with crossed swords, which contributed to the popularization of the design, and for having two female crew members (Mary Read and Rackham's lover Anne Bonny).

After deposing Charles Vane from his captaincy, Rackham cruised the Leeward Islands, Jamaica Channel and Windward Passage. He accepted a pardon some time in 1719 and moved to New Providence where he met Anne Bonny, who was married to James Bonny.

In October 1720, Rackham cruised near Jamaica, capturing numerous small fishing vessels, and terrorizing fishermen and women along the northern coastline. In September 1720, Bahamas Governor Rogers had issued a warrant/proclamation declaring Rackham and his crew as pirates, but it was not published until October. About the same time, pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet was in pursuit of Rackham in Jamaica. Barnet captured Rackham and his crew while they were at anchor (and drunk) at Bry Harbour Bay in Jamaica, on 20 October 1720. They were tried and convicted in Spanish Town, Jamaica, in November 1720. Rackam was hanged in Port Royal on November 18, 1720. Rackam's body was then gibbeted on display on a very small islet at a main entrance to Port Royal now known as Rackham's Cay.

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