Little is known of Rackham's upbringing or early life, except for the fact that he was English and born around the year 1682. The first record of him is as quartermaster on Charles Vane's brigantine Ranger in 1718, operating out of New Providence island in the Bahamas, which was a notorious base for pirates known as the "Pirates' republic". Vane and his crew robbed several ships outside New York City, then encountered a large French man-of-war. The ship was at least twice as large as Vane's brigantine, and it immediately pursued them. Vane commanded a retreat from battle, claiming caution as his reason. Jack Rackham quickly spoke up and contested the decision, suggesting that they fight the man-of-war because it would have plenty of riches. In addition, he argued, if they captured the ship, it would place a much larger ship at their disposal. Of the approximately ninety-one men on the ship, only fifteen supported Vane in his decision. Vane declared that the captain's decision is considered final, however, despite the overwhelming support for Rackham's cry to fight, they fled the man-of-war.