Born in 1645
Died on 23rd of May 1701
The original swashbuckling pirate William ‘Captain’ Kidd has inspired many stories, most notably Treasure Island and more recently The Pirates of the Caribbean.
The details of William Kidd’s birth are uncertain but there is a tradition that he was born the son of Presbyterian Minister in Greenock, Scotland around 1645, although there is more recent evidence that he came from Dundee. It is also claimed he was taken to New York aged five after the death of his father and that he became a seaman’s apprentice. The first actual records we have show that in 1689, when Kidd was about 44 years old, he was a member of an Anglo-French pirate crew sailing in the Caribbean. When the crew mutinied Kidd became captain and offered his ship and services to the English colonists against French privateers. He was rewarded for his enterprise in 1691, and in 1695 he was commissioned by the governor of New York to defend English ships from marauding pirates.
It was during a voyage to Madagascar in 1696 plagued by disease, mutiny and a failure to seize ships that Kidd appears finally to have become a pirate proper. He became a feared and successful predator but on returning to the West Indies with his richest prize the Quedagh Merchant he learned that piracy charges had been brought against him. When he attempted to clear himself he was arrested and taken to London where in 1701 he was put on trial. Kidd was expecting to be exonerated by his influential backers but they failed to come to his defence and he was found guilty of murdering his gunner William Moore, and on five counts of piracy. On May 23, 1701 William Kidd was hanged but not before the rope snapped twice - though this may be part of the legend that grew up around him after his death. Apparently there is also a hoard of his buried treasure still waiting to be discovered…..
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