A Short History of Anne Bonny
Bonny’s exact birthdate is speculated, but is somewhere around 1688. She was said to be born in Kinsale, in County Cork, Ireland. She was the daughter of servant woman Mary Brennan and Brennan’s employer, lawyer William Cormac. Official records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are scarce and most modern knowledge stems from Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates (a collection of pirate biographies, the first edition accurate, the second much embellished).
Bonny’s father William Cormac first moved to London to get away from his wife’s family and he began dressing his daughter as a boy and calling her “Andy”. When Cormac’s wife discovered William had taken in the illegitimate daughter and bringing the child up to be a lawyer’s clerk and dressing her as a boy, she stopped giving him an allowance. Cormac then moved to the Province of Carolina, taking along his former serving girl, the mother of Bonny. Bonny’s father abandoned the original “Mc” prefix of their family name to blend more easily into the Charles Town citizenry. At first the family had a rough start in their new home, but Cormac’s knowledge of law and ability to buy and sell goods soon financed a townhouse and eventually a plantation just out of town. Bonny’s mother died when she was 12. Her father attempted to establish himself as an attorney, but did not do well. Eventually, he joined the more profitable merchant business and accumulated a substantial fortune.
It is recorded that Bonny had red hair and was considered a “good catch”, but may have had a fiery temper; at age 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl with a knife. She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate and thief named James Bonny. James hoped to win possession of his father-in-law’s estate, but Bonny was disowned by her father. Bonny’s father did not approve of James Bonny as a husband for his daughter and he kicked Anne out of their house. Anne was one of, if not the most feared person to roam the pirate alleys in Charles Town. To hear the rest of Anne’s Tale, come visit us at Twisted Charleston Tours.