John “Calico Jack’ Rackham was a pirate of the early eighteenth century who seems to have two primary claims to fame. The first was that his design of the ship’s flag may actually have been the first use this design for a Jolly Roger flag ever on a pirate ship. The second is that his crew featured two female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read (Rackham actually believed Mary Read was a man when she joined his crew).
Calico Jack’s pirate days seem to have began in 1718 when he was elevated to the Captaincy on an English warship during a mutiny, and it ended at the end of a hangman’s noose in November of 1720 after being captured off the shore of Jamaica. His short career of piracy was highlighted by the plundering smaller ships near the coastal shorelines in a stolen sloop and ended shortly after it began.
I could actually find little in the way of redeeming qualities for “Calico Jack” the Pirate, who appears to have captured the imagination popular culture on the basis of the Jolly Roger flag alone. He certainly seems to have been a lousy pirate. Perhaps standards were different back then, but huddling close to shorelines attacking only smaller ships, then allowing yourself to be captured after only a brief stint of pirating hardly seems to be the stuff of legend. (It is even rumoured that he was captured in a fight which saw only his female pirates fighting back. Calico Jack surrendered without a fight.)
I hope that White Rock Distillers, the owners the of Calico Jack Spiced Rum Brand have a rum which fairs better than the its namesake.
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