William Kidd

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William Kidd
William Kidd - Pirate (1645 - 1701)

William Kidd operated during the era known as 'The Golden Age of Pirates' and is probably best known because of the speculation over his treasure. Kidd  was reputed to have hidden treasure before his capture, and many people have searched everywhere between America and the Indian Ocean trying to find it.

This page details facts about William Kidd's life and the events that shaped his history.

William Kidd the Pirate - Fun Facts for Kids !
William Kidd Fact   1: William Kidd was born in the Dundee area of Scotland in 1645, the son of a Scottish Minister.
William Kidd Fact   2: Records show him working, in 1689, as a Privateer in the West Indies during King William III’s war (1689 – 1697).
William Kidd Fact   3: While working as a Privateer, William Kidd gained a reputation as a brave man.
William Kidd Fact   4: He married Sarah Bradley Cox Oort, a wealthy, twice widowed, English woman.
William Kidd Fact   5: Governor Bellomont of Barbados, amongst others, recommended that William Kidd be given command of a government ship and sent to chase pirates, who were very active in the area. The recommendation was turned down, so Bellomont and the others provided William Kidd with a ship of their own, and procured the King’s commission for him to operate against the pirates.
William Kidd Fact   6:

William Kidd was also given a commission signed by King William III of England to privateer against French ships, as England and France were at war during this period.

King William III of England

William Kidd Fact   7:

William Kidd set sail for New York in May 1696 aboard the Adventure Galley, a ship with thirty four guns and eighty men. On the journey, he took a French ship.

William Kidd Fact   8:

When he arrived in New York he advertised for more crew. William Kidd sweetened the advert by offering a share of what was taken, keeping forty shares for himself and the owners. This enticement led to the crew numbers swelling to one hundred and fifty two.


Picture of King William III of England

William Kidd Fact   9: William Kidd sailed for Madeira to stock the ship with wine and other provisions before sailing on to the Cape Verde islands for more provisions. He then set off for Madagascar, where pirates were known to meet up, arriving there in February 1697. There were no pirates there so he restocked and sailed around Africa and the Indian Ocean for several months without sighting any pirates at all.
William Kidd Fact 10: This lack of success led to the crew becoming uneasy as no prizes meant no profit for them. It is believed that it was pressure from the crew and concern for the possible reactions from his backers that persuaded Kidd to turn to Piracy.
William Kidd Fact 11: William Kidd's first act of piracy was to attack a Moorish ship which was in a fleet under the protection of a Dutch and an English Man of War. The Men of War fired on him, forcing him to sail away as he wasn’t strong enough to take them on.
William Kidd Fact 12: William Kidd went on to take a small Moorish ship, from Aden, forcing the English captain and a Portuguese sailor to join with him. He hoisted some of the prisoners up by the arms and beat them to find out if they had money. This proved fruitless so he let them go.
William Kidd Fact 13: On account of this action, a Portuguese Man of War was sent after him. William Kidd met up with it and after a battle lasting several hours, he was forced to sail away.
William Kidd Fact 14: William Kidd went on to take a Moorish ship sailing under a French flag, and later came upon a Dutch ship. The crew wanted to attack the Dutch ship but Kidd opposed it, possibly because his commission was only to attack French ships. This caused a mutiny to begin, with the majority arming themselves ready to take a boat and take the Dutch ship. William Kidd told them that whoever left would not be allowed back on the ship. This put an end to the mutiny.
William Kidd Fact 15: William Kidd was on deck talking to a gunner, named William Moore, about the Dutch ship. Moore told him that he’d ruined them all, so he picked up a bucket and hit him with it. The blow fractured his skull and Moore died the next day.
William Kidd Fact 16: Cruising along the coast of Africa William Kidd plundered several ships. He stopped at an island where several of the crew went ashore for wood and water. While there, his cooper (barrel maker) was murdered by the natives. This led to William Kidd going ashore to pillage and burn several of the native’s houses. He captured one of the natives and had him tied to a tree and shot.
William Kidd Fact 17: On 30th January 1698 he chased a Moorish ship called the Quedagh Merchant and took the English captain, called Wright, prisoner. William Kidd learned that there were some Armenians on board, who part owned the cargo. He told them that if they offered him a worth while ransom for the cargo, he would listen. They offered him twenty thousand rupees (a little less than £3,000). He judged it to be a bad deal so refused it and set the men ashore. When he had finally sold the cargo, it came to be around £200 per man. He kept forty shares for himself, which was worth around £8,000.
William Kidd Fact 18: William Kidd put some men on the Quedagh Merchant and sailed both ships to Sainte Marie, a small island off the coast of Madagascar. Here he came across another pirate, Captain Robert Culliford, who he was originally commissioned to capture. Instead of doing so, he treated him like an old friend.
William Kidd Fact 19: The Adventure Galley was now old and leaking to such an extent that two pumps were continually in use. William Kidd moved all the guns and tackle to the Quedagh Merchant and divided up the cargo. At this point 97 of the crew chose to join with Captain Culliford, taking guns and their share of the cargo with them. Others disappeared on Madagascar. William Kidd was left with a crew of approximately forty.
William Kidd Fact 20: He grounded the Adventure Galley in the harbour at Sainte Marie where the ship was set alight. William Kidd stayed there for six months before heading for the West Indies. Arriving in April 1699 he discovered that news of his actions had reached England and that he had been branded a pirate.
William Kidd Fact 21: A free pardon for pirates was offered at this time for all pirates who voluntarily surrendered themselves. William Kidd and Captain Avery were excepted by name although Kidd didn’t know of the proclamation.
William Kidd Fact 22: William Kidd left the Quedagh Merchant at the island of Hispaniola, where it was subsequently stripped and burned, and bought a smaller ship.
William Kidd Fact 23: Wishing to clear his name, William Kidd set sail for New York, believing that Lord Bellomont would aid him because he had commissioned him. He also believed that some French passes he had picked up on his travels would help prove he was just a privateer. It is believed that William Kidd stopped at various places, on the way to New York, to hide his treasure.
William Kidd Fact 24: As Lord Bellomont had backed William Kidd in the beginning, he and his co-backers were being scrutinised for their association with him. Being under such pressure, Lord Bellomont had William Kidd arrested as soon as he arrived. William Kidd was sent back to England for trial on 16th April 1700, and held in Newgate prison.
William Kidd Fact 25: He went on trial at the Old Bailey in May 1701, where he was found guilty of Piracy and the murder of William Moore. He offered a defence that he was just privateering, and had been forced to piracy by his crew, but witnesses told of his friendly meeting with Culliford, which went against him. The French passes he had gained from the ships he had taken went missing and could not be produced to help with his defence.
William Kidd Fact 26: William Kidd was sentenced to hang. He is reputed to have said that if he was killed, his treasure would never be found.
William Kidd Fact 27: William Kidd was hanged, at the second attempt, at Execution Dock in Wapping, London on 23rd May 1701. The first attempt saw him falling to the ground choking as the rope snapped. His body was hung from a gibbet at Tilbury Point on the river Thames for several years as a warning to all pirates.
William Kidd Fact 28: During the 20th Century, the missing French passes were found, so it has been speculated that his trial was unfair.
William Kidd Fact 29: William Kidd is mentioned in the popular video game Assassins Creed IV, Black Flag, where some other real pirates appear as characters.
William Kidd the Pirate (1645 - 1701) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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