The Life of Captain William Kidd
Many fascinating tales have pictured the reckless and ruthless deeds of the notorious pirate Captain Kidd. This famous character was an able British navigator who had distinguished himself for bravery in the wars of his country against France. He was born at Greenock, Scotland, the son of a Scotch minister, and went to sea at an early age. As a young man he was commander of a commissioned British vessel in the West Indies, operating against his country’s enemy, France. In 1695, he received a commission to pursue and capture pirates on the high seas, and in 1696, as commander of the galley Adventure, carrying thirty guns and a crew of eighty men, he sailed from Plymouth, England, to New York, where he increased his crew and then proceeded to Madagascar.
It was soon reported that Captain Kidd was practicing piracy instead of suppressing it, and when he returned to Boston, in 1699, he was arrested. The immediate charge against him was that of murder, for he had killed a gunner of the Adventure during a mutiny. He was sent to England, where he was tried, condemned and executed. The treasure which he had secured during his unlawful career and had buried on Gardiner’s Island, New York, was secured by the colonial authorities in 1699. For many years, tales of still greater buried treasure which the authorities had failed to find stirred men’s imaginations, but eventually attempts to find it ceased.
In a book entitled, The Real Captain Kidd, A Vindication, written by Sir Cornelius Neal Dalton and published in 1911, a defense is presented for the purpose of clearing Kidd’s name of the charges for which he was convicted and put to death. It represented that Kidd was in the employ of “Persons of Quality” in England, and that his exploits were a faithful attempt to carry out his commission and further the interests of his employers, Historical documents and other data are presented which throw much light on the career of this picturesque figure. There is no doubt that many of the deeds attributed to him were purely imaginary. The adventures of Captain Kidd even inspired numerous literary works, including Edgar Allen Poe’s The Gold Bug and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.