John Rackham – The Worst Pirate I’ve Ever Heard Of

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John Rackham was one of the least succesful pirates from the so-called Golden Age. In spite of his unimpressive track record, he is one of the most remembered, and appears in some beloved games and movies, like Assassin’s Creed, and of course, Black Sails. I don’t think we should only remember the pirates who had “succesful” careers, whatever that means anyway. John Rackham is important to remember, -because- he was an abject failure. It gives us an insight into what it was like, for most pirates, especially during this time period.

Modern sources:
Dictionary of Pyrate Biography – Baylus C. Brooks
Piracy: The Complete History – Angus Konstam
The Golden Age of Piracy – Benerson Little

Period sources:
The Tryals of Captain John Rackham and Other Pirates – National Library of Jamaica
A General History of the Pyrates(vol 1) – Captain Charles Johnson
A General History of the Pyrates(vol 2) – Captain Charles Johnson
A Proclamation – Woodes Rogers(accessed via: )
The Natural, Moral, and Political History of Jamaica – James Knight
(newspaper mentions of John Rackham etc)

Music credits:

Kevin MacLeod

0:00 The worst pirate ever?
1:50 The fake backstory
6:17 Volume 1
8:42 Volume 2
11:41 Ann and John?
12:49 The true story
21:51 His career summarized
22:29 Outfit and flag
25:03 Rackham in media
28:15 Outro

#pirates #biography #calico #rackham


  1. I don't know, but if I was the guy writing the book, rather than playing Rackham up, I would have treated him as a comedy chapter, exaggerating his incompetence and doing what I could to ensure that everyone got a good laugh out of his story.

  2. I like the way they spelled Pirates "Pyrates". Looks coolers

  3. ✨🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✨🥰✨👍✨♥️✨🤗✨.

  4. I heard that his flag was the invention of loids of London
    To promote a fear of piracy and boost thare insurance sales

  5. Cut Jack some slack, I hear his wife cut off a part of his finger and threw her feces on his bed. He had alot on his mind 😔

  6. One of my favorite things about this channel is how it can go from no-nonsense pure history to a complete shitpost like at 13:15 in the blink of an eye

  7. ✨🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿✨☠️✨😳✨😵‍💫✨😱✨.

  8. In the world of high seas, you must go all the way or give up and be lazy. Laziness doesn’t belong on a ship. This is why Anne Bonnie left.

  9. Mate, Jack Rackham is a cool pirate name! Lol! I think a lot was lost to history about Jack Rackham. I personally think that it was that he had 2 women pirates on his ship that lead to his fame long after his death. Sex sells and no one did it better than the story of Jack Rackham.

  10. Another remarkable video on the topic of piracy. Many thanks!

  11. Such a cool last name Rack Em!Arrrrr Mateys lets Rack em bootys!

  12. Great and very fun video! Interesting all around and much needed content to balance pop-history. Cheers! 🏴‍☠

  13. While Our Flag Means Death depiction of Calico Jack is the least accurate that will probably ever exist, he was a colossal failure, 😅

  14. Hey is being a pirate captain similar to a king? Ive seen a comment that said that but i don't know how accurate that is, like how i see it its a spectrum between oligarchy to constitutional monarchy to absolute monarchy

  15. "Why on earth should we remember you, Pirate?"
    "Because of my girlfriends points at Bonny and Reed
    "Fair enough"

  16. Will you ever do a historical review on Edward Kenway like you did with Jack Sparrow? I ask this because they tried to keep pirate stereotypes away to a certain extent (like excluding a hook hand in the development)

  17. I can feel the hordes of Bonny and Read fans typing furiously

  18. Me after reading the title : I agree with you 100%

    Uneducated bozos who still prefer A general history of the pirates by Charles Johnson : NOOOOO!!!!!!! LIAR!!!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!

  19. Tintin and the Captain found his treasure!

  20. … the one time I’m early to something -_-

  21. pirate flags circa 1715 to 1730 to Rackam’s purported flag are “this flag was a black cloth in the middle of which was depicted a cadaver [skeleton] and scattered bones and crossed sabers” (I’ve translated this from French), and “The Ship hoisted a Black Flagg at the Main-Top-Mast-Head, with Deaths Head and a Cutlass in it…”

  22. Modern humans are so fucking annoying. They hear one person say "it wasnt real" and then they all imitating edge lords scream that is must be false. Sorry wrong again. Whats worse is there isnt a source that says "there is no evidence of this flag" but you all pretend its said and done and debunked.

  23. Please learn how to avoid falling into the fake "realism" position modern humans take. Thank you

  24. A great pirate to name yourself after, eh Jack Rackham?

  25. He was absolutely nick named Jack, and Calico 😂.

  26. Bruh the records of the men are clear on this. Its like well attributed. Again his flag was quite possibly real. And we don't really know most of his exploits anyhow so its hard to make a conclusion. Please study more

  27. £1,000 today inflation adjusted would be £170,000 divided by 18 pirates I believe = £9,444 each. I guess it's impressive for one day but not the kind of amount you expect for a pirate. And his career total per share would be just under £13,000

  28. I totally agree on the sentiment that the importance of Jack Rackham's real story is that, he shows what pirating for most pirates was actually like. His ship, well boat was 12 tons not the 100s of ton Frigates and galleon sized vessels media portrays every pirate to have, he doesn't have 40 cannons he has 4. His crew is not hundreds it's 20 including himself and one of those is his girlfriend. His biggest haul inflation adjusted would be the equivalent of just under £9,000 per share and total career was just under £13,000 per share. Certainly not an amount that would make you drink a town dry or be covered in Jewels. He wasn't some freedom fighter, who's stuck it too the empire, evading capture for years, his journey lasts barely a few months and surrenders without much of a fight. He's stealing from Canoes with a single persons on them. It is more a desperate and sad affair than anything else.

  29. I will never understand how he is more famous in modern times than Every or Dampier.

  30. How are you and your future pirates of the caribbean videos doing?

  31. Calico Jack was the best character in Black Sails.

  32. Dang you got people salty. 😂 I never thought people would get this defensive of Jack Rackham.

  33. Can you aid video on comands such as like all the comands a capitn would yell out to his crew

  34. Probably the worst of the well known pirates, really highly unremarkable other than the females he may (or may not) have had on board. That said he was one of my favoriate members of the cast of Black Sails as quite a few of his lines were very funny.

  35. Hey, are you planning to ever talk about one piece's inspirations from real pirates and the "real one piece" thing, id love to know your take

  36. I just absolutely love how he was depicted in Our Flag Means Death. Drunk ass bozo who got killed in one hit by a warning shot, while he was taunting a gull.

  37. The ultimate example of failing upwards as a pirate. Short career short gain, captured after what can only be called an incident and not a battle. Is super famous and popular anyway due to a flag and two women. GG.


  39. Imagine being called the worst pirate when Stede Bonnet exists.

  40. 13:43 "Mr. McLaine, get to work!" OK, give me a minute… Confirmed, no mention of the 26 December 1682 birthday in the Tryals or Konstam. Peter Lehr's "Pirates" (2019) repeats the 26 December 1682 date but gives no source. 26 December was the date of a Boston News-Letter article about the trial, but that was 1720, not 1682 (cited in a Rediker article about Bonny and Read). Bartholomew Roberts was born in 1682 but that's as close as I can find. I have now removed references to the 1682 birth date from his Wikipedia page (like most of the famous names, that page wasn't one of mine).

    I did find more spellings: "Raccum" in American Weekly Mercury; "Rocham" in St. James' Evening Post (from Fox's Own Words Vol2), and "Rackan" (forgot where, source was in Fox's Own Words Vol2).

  41. I've always liked Rackham because he is so hilariously incompetent. He is a joke of a pirate, and it makes him stand out.

  42. The name Jack was a common word used in place of the word man. So the word lumberjack refers to a man who worked lumber and not someone called Jack who worked lumber.

  43. Black Sails never quite uses the name "Calico Jack." When Jack tells how his backstory of his family selling calico it's kind of an easter egg for pirate enthusiasts to recognize. Black Sails goes easy on nicknames in general. Even Edward Teach isn't referred to as Blackbeard at all until the final season.

  44. I have a lead figure of Jack Rackham so he's not unheard of.

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