Biography of Famous Pirate Captain Kidd Part 2

About the famous Scottish pirate Captain Kidd, history and biography of the man.


CAPTAIN WILLIAM KIDD (1645?-1701), Pirate

After nine frustrating months the crew, made up mostly of drifters, wharf rats, and cutthroats, wanted to plunder every ship in sight. Because of Kidd's refusal to attack any except pirate-manned vessels or those with French passes, hostility flared. A crisis developed on the day the crew, under ringleader William Moore, threatened to take the Loyal Captain on their own. "If you attempt to do any such thing, you will never come on board the Adventure again," Kidd told them.

The mutiny died. But several days later Moore shouted at Kidd, "You ruin us." Hot words followed. Sullen-looking men appeared on the deck. Kidd picked up a wooden bucket and hurled it at Moore, hitting him on the head. Moore collapsed, and the next day he died, whether from the blow or from a recent illness he had had no one could say.

Kidd was desperate. He had lost control over his crew. He had no money for food or for repair of the rapidly deteriorating Adventure. At this point Kidd began seizing ships. The Rouparelle and the Armenian Quedagh Merchant, the only two vessels it could be proved that he took, sailed under French passes and were legal prey according to his commission.

But in England, deserters from his crew and representatives of the East India Company spread gory tales about him. Many of the black deeds ascribed to him actually carried out by the part of his crew that was assigned to the Rouparelle.

At the end of January, 1698, Kidd put in at Madagascar, where he shifted guns and other equipment from the Adventure, now almost useless, to the Quedagh Merchant. Forced to yield to the demands of his crew, he divided up some of the loot--gold, jewels, silk. Still dissatisfied, 97 men deserted and joined the crew of the notorious pirate Robert Colliford, who guaranteed better pickings.

Meanwhile, Kidd had become a political football. The Tories in England, wanting to impeach several Whigs who had been in the syndicate backing Kidd, claimed that the Whigs had become the confederates of pirates. The Whigs, to whom Kidd had become a liability, wanted to make him appear as a villain who had betrayed them. Instead of hunting pirates, they said, he had become one himself.

When Kidd returned to Boston, Bellamont sequestered the French passes the Rouparelle and the Quedagh Merchant had sailed under. Then, acting on orders from England, he put Kidd in jail. After months of being chained to the wall of the damp, cold prison, Kidd was sent to Newgate Prison in London.

Had he turned against the Whigs in the syndicate, the Tories would have got him either a pardon or a light sentence. But Kidd insisted on his own honesty and that of his backers. This led to his trial for the murder of Moore and another trial on five counts of piracy.

Kidd was denied counsel until just before the trial. Bellamont had withheld the French passes, which would have been favorable evidence. Some witnesses spoke in Kidd's behalf, but disgruntled deserters from his crew made up lies about his cruelty.

At the conclusion of the trial, the clerk of the court asked, "What canst thou say for thyself. . . .?"

"I am the innocentest [sic] person of them all," Kidd replied. "Only I have been sworn against by perjured persons."

Kidd was hanged May 23, 1701.

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