Kidd was born into a reputable family in Greenock,
Scotland. After war broke out between England and
France, he showed courage in winning a French ship and
saving English troops from destruction. Kidd settled in New York in
1691, at the age of forty-seven. There he's married and
had two daughters. The marriage eventually brought to
Kidd a considerable amount of property. During this time
Kidd was respected as an honest, hard-working ship
captain. He befriended many prominent colonial citizens,
including three governors.
Later that year, on orders from the province of New
York, he captured an enemy privateer on the New England
coast. Shortly thereafter, Kidd was awarded GBP150 for
his outstanding privateer job in the Caribbean. One year
later, "Captain" Culliford, a notorious pirate, stole
Kidd's ship while he was ashore at Antigua in the West
Kidd was such a successful privateer in New York and the
West Indies that he was called back to serve England.
The King’s officers offered him a new powerful ship: the
Adventure Galley. The Adventure Galley was well
suited to the task of catching pirates; weighing over
284 tons, equipped with 34 cannons, and 150 men.
Kidd took pride in personally
selecting the crew. Unfortunately, soon
after setting sail he was stopped by the HMS Duchess
whose captain enlisted much of Kidd's crew for service
in the navy. To make up for the lack of men, Kidd
recruited a gang of cutthroats in New York. The vast
majority of this group were hardened criminals, some
Adventure Galley sailed for Madagascar. Months went by,
with no acceptable victims found, many crew members
left Kidd. The remaining threatened mutiny,
pressuring Kidd to turn pirate to attack any and all
ships. Kidd refused, and a fight between him and the
ship gunner erupted. Kidd killed the man. After that
incident, Kidd was changed, plundering ships of all
kinds along India’s Malabar coast.
Acts of savagery on Kidd’s part were reported by escaped
prisoners, who told of being hoisted up by the arms and
drubbed with a naked cutlass. Kidd was then declared
pirate by the Royal Navy.
On January 30, 1698 Adventure
Galley took her greatest prize,
the 400 ton Quedagh Merchant, which was loaded with
valuable items and an incredible variety of East Indian
merchandise. That vessel sailed under the French
When news reached England, the British East India
Company declared Kidd a pirate. Various naval commanders
were ordered to pursue and seize the Adventure Galley.
On April 1, 1698, Adventure Galley reached Madagascar.
Here Kidd found the first pirate of his voyage, Robert
Culliford, (the same man who had stolen Kidd’s ship
Kidd ordered his men to attack but his men mutinied and joined the
Only 13 of Kidd’s men remained. Kidd had no choice
but go home.
Prior to returning to New York City, he learned that he
was a wanted pirate. With the help of his lawyer, he
negotiated with the governor in Boston and eventually
agreed to come in to town.
Outside New York, Kidd buried the bulk of the treasure
on Gardiner's Island and attempted
to use it as a bargaining chip for a pardon.
On July 6, 1699 Kidd was arrested. He was
found guilty on all charges (murder and five counts of
Kidd was executed in 1701. He experienced a
painful death: the hangman’s rope broke twice. His
corpse was dipped in tar and displayed in an iron cage
on the dock at Thames Estuary for two years as a warning
to other would-be pirates.
Captain Kidd's name is still associated with a supposed
buried treasure on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. His story
gave impetus to the never-ending treasure hunts on Oak
Island in Nova Scotia, Long Island in New York, Charles
Island in Connecticut, and Thimble Islands in
Connecticut. This belief made its contribution to
literature in Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold Bug and Robert
Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
Adventure Galley was burnt in San Maria, a formidable
Her remains is still in the shallow bay of the island.
L x 27" T