William Kidd was born in Scotland in 1645. He sailed to New York where he met Sarah Bradley Cox, who he married and started a family with. IT was in New York that Kidd also became a privateer, and a successful one at that. Word of Captain Kidd’s success soon spread, and when the King of England heard of Kidd’s impressive career, he summoned Kidd to serve him.
The King gave Captain Kidd two main tasks – to capture enemy French ships, and to become the government’s official pirate hunter, hunting the pirates of the Red Sea. Kidd set sail, but shortly after starting his expedition, almost all of his best crewmen deserted him in favour of joining two Royal Navy ships badly in need of sailors. Captain Kidd was forced to take on new crew mates…many of which were pirates and smugglers.
His new crew of ne’er do wells were not impressed with Kidd’s reluctance to attack any ship – some left while others plotted mutiny. Kidd’s frustration grew too as it had been two years since he’d set sail from England and he still hadn’t led a successful attack on a French ship. On January 1698, Captain Kidd eventually gave in to the pressure and turned to piracy… it would be his one and only act of piracy.
Kidd and his crew captured a ship belonging to the East India Trading Company. News of this travelled, and the East India Trading Company convinced the English Government to brand Kidd as a pirate. Hearing that he was now a wanted man, Kidd and his crew sailed to New York with hopes of being hidden by Kidd’s friends. This attempt was unsuccessful, and Kidd was found, captured and transported back to England.
Kidd was put on trial in May 1701. Despite him only performing one single act of piracy, Kidd was found guilty and sentenced to hang. On Tuesday 23rd May, 1701, Captain William Kidd was executed. Afterwards his body was displayed in a cage, hung above the Thames – a warning and deterrent to those thinking of pursuing a life of piracy themselves.