William Kidd
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William Kidd (abt. 1645 - 1701)

Captain William Kidd
Born about in Greenock, Scotlandmap [uncertain]
Son of and [uncertain]
Husband of — married 16 May 1691 in New Yorkmap
Died at about age 56 in Wapping, London, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 26 Nov 2008
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Notables Project
William Kidd is Notable.
This profile is part of the Kidd Name Study.

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

William Kidd was the son of a Presbyterian Minister. [NOTE: The myth that his "father was thought to have been a Church of Scotland minister" has been discounted, insofar as there is no mention of the name in comprehensive Church of Scotland records for the period.]

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 Governor, Col. Henry Sloughter. 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 (nee 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 Robert 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, a galley (sometimes called Adventure Galley), was launched at Deptford on the Thames in December 1695.

Kidd suffered many problems with the crew and his ship during this time. On 30 October 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. 17th 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 1 April 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 6 July 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 23 May 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.[1]

Research Notes

Some sources say William was born in 1654, some sources say at Dundee and he was the son of a seaman. This profile says 1645 and he was "the son of a minister". There are none listed on SP [what is SP ?] in 1645, there however are two in 1654. One in Dundee, the other in Kinglassie, Fife. One, the son of John, the other the son of Thomas. No births found for Renfrewshire. Wikipedia says he married in 1691.
  • Possible source, William Kid, son of John Kid and Bessie Butchart, was born 22 January 1654 in Dundee, Scotland. [2] This matches the parents that this profile is currently linked to.
  • William Kidd, wikipedia has the following, so Sources for these statements can be checked on that site:
William Kidd was born in Dundee, Scotland prior to 15 October 1654. While claims have been made of alternate birthplaces, including Greenock and even Belfast, he said himself he came from Dundee. A local society supported the family financially after the death of the father. The myth that his "father was thought to have been a Church of Scotland minister" has been discounted, insofar as there is no mention of the name in comprehensive Church of Scotland records for the period. Others still hold the contrary view


  1. Citing this Record "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVVC-4TCP : 26 July 2019), William Kidd, 1701; Burial, , ; citing record ID 11376751, Find a Grave,
  2. "Church of Scotland: Old Parish Registers - Births and baptisms" database, National Records of Scotland, ScotlandsPeople (https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/: accessed 20 September 2021), William Kid, parents: John Kid and Bessie Butchart, 22 January 1654, Dundee; citing Parish Number 282, Reference Number: 10 197.
  • Stephen, Sir Leslie, ed. Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922. Volumes 1–22. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1921–1922. Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922, Oxford University Press, London, England, Vol. 11, Pages 93-95
  • Stephen, Sir Leslie, ed. Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922. Volumes 1–22. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1921–1922. Dictionary of National Biography, 1921–1922, Oxford University Press, London, England, Vol. 22, Page 723
  • Clemens, William Montgomery. American Marriage Records Before 1699. Pompton Lakes, New Jersey: Biblio Co., 1926, Spouse: Sarah Oort, Marriage Date: 16 May 1691, Marriage Place: New York City
  • Gilfoyle, Daniel. 2020. "A Rough Deal For Captain Kidd - The National Archives Blog. The National Archives Blog. Accessed May 17 2020.>Captain Kidd, National Archives blog
  • Guides at University of Florida: Tales From The Source: Captain Kidd: Pirate Or Privateer?. 2020. Guides.Uflib.Ufl.Edu. Accessed May 17 2020.>Captain Kidd, University of Florida guides
  • The Project Gutenberg Ebook Of Captain William Kidd And Others Of The Buccaneers, By John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott. 2020. Gutenberg.Org. Accessed May 17 2020.>Captain William Kidd, ebook]
  • Captain William Kid – Best Known Privateer – Legends Of America. 2020. Legendsofamerica.Com. Accessed May 17 2020.>Captain Kidd, Legends of America
  • Pirates & Privateers: The History Of Maritime Piracy - Captain William Kidd. 2020. Cindyvallar.Com. Accessed May 17 2020.>Captain Kidd
  • Tryal of Captain William Kidd, pdf, 72 pages
  • Gutenberg, The Real Captain Kidd, Dalton, ebook
  • Online Books, Dictionary of National Biography, all volumes
  • Dictionary Of National Biography : Stephen, Leslie, Sir, 1832-1904, [From Old Catalog] Ed : Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming : Internet Archive". Internet Archive. Accessed May 17 2020.>William Kidd, Vol XXXI, Pages 93-95

See Also:

  • Find a Grave, database and images  : accessed 17 May 2020), memorial page for William Kidd (1645–23 May 1701), Find A Grave: Memorial #11376751, ; Maintained by Find A Grave: "Body lost or destroyed, his remains are believed to be in the bottom of Thames River near Tilbery Point".
  • William Kidd, wikipedia
  • Captain William Kidd - Historic UK". 2020. Historic UK. Accessed May 17 2020.>William Kidd, Historic UK

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Comments: 9

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[Comment Deleted]
posted by Billie (Bright) Keaffaber
deleted by Billie (Bright) Keaffaber
That's apparently a different person, born 1558 in Soham, Cambridgeshire, England, and died in 1639.
posted by Bobbie (Madison) Hall
I found right connections took me while.
Kidd-4341 and Kidd-1 appear to represent the same person because: accidental duplicate
posted by Debi (McGee) Hoag
I don't see any sources on this Project Protected profile. Am I missing something?
She had two daughters says so in your source why is only one listed?

[1] name study

posted by David Martin
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.
posted by Dale Kidd
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.
posted by Monica Saylors