Today, 297 years ago, Captain Jack Calico was captured by the British Navy, and later hanged in Port Royal, Jamaica.
Wikipedia’s entry on the man is pretty light, but it did include the usual “in popular culture” list…which was oddly missing any reference to Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Carribbean franchise.
That raised my brow, because the parallels between Sparrow and the real Jack Calico (beyond the poetic echo of cadences in the names) are many. Here’s just a couple though: Calico was pardoned for his pirating ways a year before he started up his weasely thieving once more. It’s been a few years since I saw the movies, but I’m pretty sure that Sparrow also got a pat of approval from the Navy. Maybe not a complete pardon, but Jack Sparrow was certainly a borderline good guy compared to characters like Captain Barbossa.
The second parallel is the more interesting one. Captain Jack Calico had two women in his crew. One, Mary Read, disguised herself as a man. (Sound familiar?). The other, Ann Bonny, was Jack Calico’s lover.
And another piece of interesting trivia: his first mate Karl Starling designed the Jolly Roger flag – the original skull and crossbones that have been forever since associated with pirates.
It’s reminders like this one that tickle my curiosity bump and make me consider whether the Carribbean during the “Golden Age of Piracy” (1650 to 1730) might not be a good setting for a really interesting and fun historical romance series.
What do you think?
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