The Last Stand
Calico Jack’s crew fought its final fight in October of 1720, when their ship was attacked by an English sloop commissioned by the governor of Jamaica, presumably with the intent to control or eliminate piracy in the Caribbean. As the story goes, the men of the crew were far too drunk to fight off the English attackers. Mary Read and Anne Bonny, though, were sober and stubborn as ever, fighting fiercely to protect their ship and crew. They held off the English for as long as they could, but eventually the ship was overtaken and the crew arrested and swept away to Jamaica, where they were convicted of piracy and sentenced to death.
The piratesses, as we might expect, did not go down without a fight. As they were both pregnant at the time of their arrest, Read and Bonny “pleaded their bellies” and appealed to avoid the gallows at least until giving birth.
Mary Read’s story ends tragically, as she died in prison in 1721, most likely during childbirth. Anne, however, gave birth in prison and was eventually released. No one, not even Captain Charles Johnson, knows what became of Anne after she got out of prison- all we know for certain is that she was not hanged for piracy. Some speculate that she returned to her first husband, James Bonny, while others believe she went back to the sea to resume her life of piracy under a new identity. Her famous last words to her lover and captain, Calico Jack, were: “If you had fought like a man you need not have been hang’d like a dog” (Johnson, 133).