A colourful character
Jack Rackham was an English pirate who earned the moniker ‘Calico Jack’ because of the colourful clothes he favoured. Born around 1680 he was not the most successful pirate in the pack, but thanks to his wife, Anne Bonney, and fellow crew mate Mary Read he has sailed his way into history.
Sailing mostly around the Caribbean and the Southeastern coast of the United States. In 1718 he was sailing under the pirate captain Charles Vane, but when they encountered a French war ship mistaking it for a merchant vessel they intended to rob, Vane chose to run away. However Jack and the rest of the crew wanted to stay and fight. The crew then voted in Calico Jack as their new captain and put Vane and his few supporters out to sea in a small sloop to follow their own fortunes.
Around 1719, with his money running out Jack decided to retire from the Life and returned to New Providence, where he met and fell in love with Anne Bonney. With Anne being unable to officially annul her first marriage to James Bonney, the two lovers ran away to sea. Returning to a life of piracy, within 3 months they had added another famous pirate to their crew, Mary Read.
Over the following year Calico Jack and his fearsome crew attacked small ships up and down the coast until their inevitable capture in late 1720 near the western coast of Jamaica. But all accounts both Anne and Mary fought fiercly, while the men cowered drunkenly below decks. They were tried and sentenced to hang, though Anne and Mary had their sentences commuted to life as they were both pregnant at the time. Anne did get to see Jack before his death, but she must not have been feeling the most compassionate that day as her last words to him were said to have been “sorry to see you there, but if you'd fought like a man, you would not have been hang'd like a Dog.”
Jack was apparently not the most skilled pirate on the high seas, but he made up for it with his bravery and daring, but it is the flag under which Jack flew that is most recognised today as the flag of a pirate, the skull with crossed swords below.