Captain William Kidd
Kidd was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as he had originally been employed to rid the seas of pirates.
He found employment as an English Privateer and found such success in New York and the West Indies he was called back to serve England. Whilst in New York Kidd married Sarah Bradley Cox Oort on 16th May 1961, an English woman in her early twenties, who had already been twice widowed and was one of the wealthiest women in New York, largely because of her inheritance from her first husband.
On 11 December 1695, Bellamont, who was now governing New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, asked the ‘trusty and well beloved Captain Kidd’ to attack Thomas Tew, John Ireland, Thomas Wake, William Maze, and all others who associated themselves with pirates, along with any enemy French ships. This request, if turned down, would have been viewed as disloyalty to the crown. The King’s officers asked Kidd to captain a new powerful ship: the Adventure Galley. The Adventure Galley was equipped with thirty four cannons and a crew of eighty men. Its mission was to capture all French ships, and the pirates of Madagascar. Kidd accepted the proposition.
However, Kidd thought his ship could use a better crew so he recruited a gang of cutthroats in New York and sailed for Madagascar. Once there, a good portion of his new crew left Kidd’s ship in order to join the pirates. The remaining portion of pirates on Kidd’s crew, threatened him with mutiny, unless Kidd would attack any and all ships. Kidd refused. Mutiny was close at hand.
Kidd killed one of his own crewmen on 30th October 1697. While Kidd's gunner, William Moore, was on deck sharpening a chisel, a Dutch ship appeared in sight. Moore urged Kidd to attack the Dutchman, an act not only piratical but also certain to anger the Dutch-born King William. Kidd refused, calling Moore a lousy dog. Moore retorted, “If I am a lousy dog, you have
made me so; you have brought me to ruin and many more.” Kidd snatched up and heaved an ironbound bucket at Moore. Moore fell to the deck with a fractured skull and died the following day. The crew did not pursue the revolt further; however, after that incident, Kidd was a changed man. Plundering ships of all kinds along India’s Malabar coast: Kidd had now become a pirate.
The holds of the Adventure Galley were already full when Kidd decided to plunder the Quedagh Merchant. This was a huge treasure ship of 400 tons (the Adventure galley weighed only 284 tons). As the pirates approached the merchant, the captain of the vessel gave the sign of surrender; however, the captain of the merchant was secretly preparing for battle.
Sails were trimmed, sand was poured for better footing, ammunition was readied, and buckets filled for fire fighting. As the pirates neared, the merchant vessel fired - but due to a sudden ocean swell, the shot missed its mark. The pirates immediately threw their grappling hooks, bringing the two ships together. The pirates rapidly boarded the ship, and soon Captain Kidd was in possession of one of the greatest pirate treasures ever. With this final accomplishment under his belt: he ordered his crew to set sail for New York. Kidd thought he could fool the New Yorkers into believing that all his plunder had been taken only from French and pirate vessels.
He was very mistaken, most of the treasure belonged to the powerful British East India Company. Kidd was clapped into chains and shipped to England were he was sentenced to death. On 23rd May 1701 Kidd experienced a terrible death at 'Execution Dock', Wapping, in London. The hangman’s rope broke twice, the third time it held. Once he was dead his body was dipped in tar and hung by chains along the Thames River. Kidd’s body served as a warning to all would-be pirates for years to come.
Adding to the intrigue around Kidd's history is where exactly all his treasure went. Before he was put to death, the convicted pirate alleged to have buried some of his loot in the Caribbean. Despite generations of treasure hunters who have attempted to verify his claim, nothing has ever been discovered.