William Kidd

William Kidd (abt. 1645 - 1701)

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Captain William Kidd
Born about in Greenock, Scotlandmap [uncertain]
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married in New Yorkmap
Died in Wapping, London, Englandmap
Profile manager: Becky P private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 26 Nov 2008
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Categories: This Day in History May 23 | Unconnected Notables | Scotland, Unconnected Profiles | England, Unconnected Profiles | Unconnected Notables of Scotland | British Notables.


William Kidd is Notable.

William Kidd is believed to be born in Greenock, Scotland in 1645. He died May 23, 1701 in Wapping, England. Although executed for piracy, his guilt is controversial.

William Kidd was the son of a Presbyterian Minister. His father died when he was five years old.

He went to sea at a young age.

In 1689 he was a legitimate privateer for Great Britain against the French in the West Indies and off the coast of North America. He was appointed captain of "The Blessed William" named after King William III.

William Kidd was to be paid by the goods he got from the French. In that same year in December "The Blessed William" joined the Royal Navy to attack the French at Mariegalante. From this raid Kidd stowed £2000 worth of booty in his hold.

After this success Kidd was ordered to join another squadron to attack the French in a sea-battle. This was a much more dangerous operation and Kidd's crew refused. Kidd reminded them that they were employed by the crown and were obligated to follow orders. The angry crew led by Robert Culliford stole "The Blessed William" with the booty in the hull.

Kidd was given another ship, named "Antigua" and crew by the Governor to seek out and re-take the "Blessed William".

William Kidd is known to have lived in New York in 1690. The self appointed leader of the colony, Jacob Leisler, had refused to recognize the newly appointed Governor, Col. Henry Sloughter. Kidd joined forces with the Governor and ferried guns and ammunition to help put down the rebellion. Kidd received £150 and a commendation from the Governor.

In 1697 he married Sarah Bradley Cox Oort, a rich 20-years-old widow. She had two daughters. Kidd was a successful businessman and citizen. He owned property overlooking the Hudson.

Kidd had met Robert Livingston in 1695. England was at war with France and the King needed money. English merchant ships in the Indian Ocean were being attacked.

Kidd and Livingston had a plan to protect the Indian Ocean from piracy, and at the same time amass great wealth for from the proceeds of privateering and pillaging. The King agreed to the plan and issued "My trusty and well-beloved Captain Kidd" a commission to seize and apprehend "pirates, free-booters and sea-rovers, being our subjects, or of other nations associated with them". If they resisted, Kidd was encouraged "by force to compel them to yield".

Kidd was also granted a special "Commission of Reprisals" that permitted him to attack and loot all French shipping. Kidd's commission however, expressly prohibited him from attacking shipping friendly to the Crown.

His ship "Adventure Galley" was launched at Deptford on the Thames in December 1695.

Kidd suffered many problems with crew and his ship during this time. On October 30, 1697 William Kidd killed his gunner, William Moore. Moore had urged Kidd to attack a Dutch ship. Kidd refused out of allegiance to Dutch-born King William. Kidd called 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 hit Moore over the head with an iron bucket fracturing his skull. Moore died the following day. Seventeenth century English admiralty allowed captains to use violence against their crew, however murder was not permitted.

In February 1698, almost a year after he had been expected to return from his mission, Kidd finally hit the jackpot in heavy seas off the Indian coast, north of Cochin. The "Quedagh Merchant" was a 500 ton Armenian merchant ship laden with gold, jewels, silver, silks, sugar and guns.

On April 1 1698 Kidd sailed his prize the "Quedagh Merchant" together with his own ship the "Adventure Galley" and an earlier prize the "Rouparelle" back to Madagascar. Kidd gathered his crew and announced his plan to return to America with his ill-gotten gains. Many of his crew objected.

On his arrival at Isle de St. Marie, an unguarded and well known pirate ship named "Mocha Frigate" was at anchor in the harbor. The ship was captained by Robert Culliford, who, 10 years earlier had stolen Kidd's ship the "Blessed William".

Kidd returned to New York City to find he was a wanted pirate. Belmont, who was an investor in Robert Livingston’s scheme, lured Kidd into Boston by promising him clemency. He then had him arrested.

On July 6, 1699 Kidd was placed in Stone Prison, spending most of the time in solitary confinement. His wife, Sarah, was also imprisoned.

After over a year imprisoned he was sent to England for questioning by Parliament. He was sent to stand trial for piracy and the murder of William Moore. Kidd wrote several letters to King William requesting clemency.

Kidd was tried without representation. He was found guilty on all charges (murder and five counts of piracy). He was hanged on May 23, 1701, at Wapping in London. During the execution, the hangman's rope broke and Kidd was hanged on the second attempt. His body was left to hang in an iron cage for 20 years over the River Thames, London, as a warning to future would-be pirates.

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William Kidd
William Kidd


On 20 Jul 2011 at 00:31 GMT Dale Kidd wrote:

My last name is Kidd and family lore is that we are descended from William. I find that odd since there is no record of William ever having a child. His wife in New York was widowed with 2 daughters before they were married and no record of any other children. I have a solid paper trail of my family to 1649 and this William is not on my tree unless he branched prior to 1649. If anyone can clarify this please email me at sloguy93401 at gmail dot com, I would be very interested in more info.

On 17 Nov 2010 at 21:21 GMT Monica Saylors wrote:

My grandmother told me that we are decedents of his so I have been doing some research....The exact day of his birth is not recorded but a priest mentioned his birth as being in Greenock, Scotland in 1645. He died on May 23 1701.

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