One of Negril’s proudest moments came when the reign of Calico Jack Rackham, the most notorious buccaneer to terrorize Jamaican waters, was brought to an end here in November 1720. Rackham – called “Calico” in reference to his preferred underwear – and his crew had moored their captured sloop in Bloody Bay to celebrate recent plunders, unaware that their every move was being shadowed by one Captain Barnet of the British Navy. Made inattentive by rum punch, the pirates were quickly overwhelmed. Some surrendered instantly, but two, in particular, put up a mighty struggle – even turning their weapons on their more malleable crew members. Eventually, they were subdued – at which point naval officers were astonished to find that they were women in disguise. Famously bloodthirsty in battle, Anne Bonney, Rackham’s former mistress, and Mary Read formed a ruthless double act and were instrumental in earning Rackham his infamy as a freebooter. At their trial, victim Dorothy Thomas noted that “they wore men’s jackets and long trousers… each of them had a machete and a pistol in their hands, and cursed and swore.”

Rackham was executed, his body displayed in an iron frame at the Kingston cay that now bears his name. Bonney and Read were also sentenced to death, but were spared when they declared themselves pregnant and were eventually reprieved. Anne Bonney disappeared from recorded history, while Mary Read died of yellow fever and is buried in St Catherine.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Jamaica features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

Kris Griffiths takes a tour of the birthplace of reggae, following in the footsteps of Jamaica's most famous son, Bob Marley, on what would have been his 70th …

18 Mar 2015 • Kris Griffiths insert_drive_file Article
19 fantastic spots for wild swimming

19 fantastic spots for wild swimming

1. Cenotes X’keken and Samula, Mexico Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is riddled with cenotes, natural limestone sinkholes that are perfect for wild swimmin…

04 Oct 2013 • Alison Roberts camera_alt Gallery
The best street food around the world

The best street food around the world

Jerk chicken, Jamaica When it comes to jerk chicken, there’s no beating the real deal fresh from a smoky jerk hut. Recipes are closely guarded secrets, but u…

04 Jul 2013 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook