William Kidd
   1645 -- 1701

  
Two of history's most famous pirates originated from Scotland. The first, Long John Silver, is the creation of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. The second, born in Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland in 1645, is William "Captain" Kidd. Having gone to sea during his youth, Kidd rose through the ranks to eventually become a captain. He was given a contract as a privateer (a sort of legalized/officially sanctioned piracy) in 1695 and was sent out commanding the "Adventure Galley" with orders to attack and loot any French ships they encountered (England was at war with France at that time).

After several months without any success however, the "Adventure Galley" turned to piracy and took on new crew members experienced in such work. Kidd then sailed for Madagascar, where 90 members of his 150-man crew deserted. In between New York and Madagascar, the "Adventure Galley" is said to have attacked and looted several ships, but not enough to pay the salaries that his crew was demanding. Also during that time, Kidd killed his gunner William Moore when he attempted to mutiny after Kidd refused his demand that they attack any ship they came upon.

Soon after the mass desertion, Kidd and his remaining crew were able to capture the 400 ton treasure ship the "Quedagh Merchant" in January of 1698. The captured ship was renamed the "Adventure Prize" and yielded money plus a cargo of silk, muslins, calico, sugar, opium, iron and saltpeter. Unfortunately for Kidd, much the cargo aboard belonged the British East India Company and his stealing it put him at odds with the English government.

While awaiting repairs on the "Adventure Prize" (which had been damaged when it was captured), Kidd met and fell in love with a woman from Barneget named Amanda. Deciding that he wanted to leave piracy behind and settle down, he stole treasure from his crew which he buried near Oyster creek. His crew found out about this and were understandably upset, meaning Kidd was wanted now by both the English (who had denounced him as a pirate) AND his own crew.

Some of Kidd's former (and now extremely disgruntled crew) fled to New York and informed the authorities there of Kidd's location. He narrowly escaped capture and headed for New York aboard the newly-commissioned St. Antonio, intending to clear his name with "proof" that all the ships he'd attacked were French. Upon setting foot in New York, he was promptly arrested, then shipped back to England to stand trial for the murder of William Moore and for piracy. The outcome of the trial was influenced as much by political pressure (British East India Company demanding restitution and England abandoning privateering in favour of legal trade) as by his own actions, Kidd was found guilty of both piracy and murder.

Kidd was sentenced to death and his execution was carried out on May 23, 1701 on the gallows in London. The rope broke on the first attempt, but his executioners were not dissuaded and the rope held the second time, killing William Kidd. One of the main reasons that his notoriety has outlasted his life is that he is believed to have buried much of his loot from the "Adventure Prize" in several places, much of which was found during his life or shortly after his death. The largest deposit is thought to have been buried somewhere up the Connecticut river, although to this day it has never been found.

  

  


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