Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shiver Me Timbers...

Since I missed last week's celebration of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I'd take the time to write a better-late-than-never bit about those interesting pirates of yore, Anne Bonny and Pierre Bouspeut: tales of a different sort of romance on the high seas.

Anne Bonny was a fierce Irishwoman who turned to a life of piracy while living in New Providence (now known as Nassau). It was there where she befriended many other pirates, and a man named Pierre, who operated a few businesses on the island, including a dressmaker's shop.

Pierre Bouspeut was known by several names. Pierre Delvin. Peter Bosket. Yet one stands out among the rest: "Pierre the Pansy Pirate". That's right, Pierre was gay. And what did he and Anne choose as their first ship to pillage? A French merchant vessel laden with expensive cloth! The duo stole a boat from the harbor, covered its sails with turtle blood, set up a bloodied dressmaker's mannequin on the deck, and had Anne stand beside it with a blood-soaked axe. Upon seeing the ghastly site in the moonlight, the French sailors immediately handed over all their cargo.

I'm sure Pierre was in heaven.

Anne's partner in crime was John "Calico Jack" Rackham (whom "Jack Sparrow" may have been loosely based upon), nicknamed for the colorful clothing he wore... which happened to be lovingly created by his "companion", Pierre Bouspeut. Calico Jack met his demise after being captured on his ship, Revenge, in October of 1720 (his crew was drunk from a night of celebrating a hefty cargo seized from a commercial Spanish ship). He was hung for piracy on the island of Jamaica in a spot now called Hangman's Cay or Rackham's Cay. The rest of his crew, presumably including Pierre, were tried and later hanged in February of 1721 at Port Royal.

Anne was also said to have had a lesbian love-affair with the only other documented female pirate on the seas, Mary "Mark" Read. Mary died in childbirth while imprisoned with Anne. Anne, though, seemingly vanished. It is rumored that she escaped and lived out her days in Charles Towne (Charleston), South Carolina.

Who knew there was so much intrigue and alternative lifestyles in pirate life?


Buck said...

Mary has been reported in one of the old courtyards in Charleston. :)

Interestingly, I have an ancestor who was hanged for piracy in 1699 in Jamaica. He also had a secondary charge of Sodomy with his cabin boy!

I knew I was born to sail to Spanish Main! LOL

Cullan Hudson said...

As someone who has been spending a lot of time in the Caribbean, I find these pirate tales fascinating. However, here in Puerto Rico, I haven't found too many pirate stories. I think that's because it was so well-defended by the Spanish.

Zathyn Priest said...

Considering I'm having a difficult time finding just the right fabric for a jacket - I need a someone like Pierre on my side!