Here is the next installment of #CaptainKiddHistory. These historical tidbits about Captain William Kidd are told by Billy, the main character of my upcoming middle grade adventure PIRATE ISLAND. Billy discovered and wrote down these tidbits while doing research to find Kidd’s lost treasure but before he actually looked for it on Pirate Island. Let’s give a big welcome to Billy!
December 1695 to September 1696 – Privateer, Not Pirate
by Billy Bonny
It was in December 1695 that Lord Bellomont, a colonial governor, hired Kidd as a privateer to try and solve the growing problem of piracy. As I mentioned in the entry “1688 to 1689 – Mutineer and Captain,” a privateer is a sort of legal pirate who is hired by a government to attack ships they are at war with and actual pirate ships. This was all financially backed by important English lords. The letter of marque, which is the official document marking Kidd as a privateer, was signed by the King of England himself! (This document was mysteriously missing during Kidd’s later trial and only turned up many years later…only more reason to believe he was wrongly convicted of being a pirate.)
Kidd’s brand-new ship was the Adventure Galley (a pretty awesome name for a ship if you ask me). A string of bad luck would start for Kidd on his way back to New York City after picking up his ship. He failed to salute a Navy vessel, a shot was fired by the Navy, and Kidd’s crew offered up a rude gesture in return. The Navy captain took most of Kidd’s crew immediately into service, leaving Kidd’s crew seriously understaffed. Back in New York, Kidd had to pick a bunch of criminals and unsavory characters to begin his journey to Africa as a privateer.
A thrice cursed island, a legendary pirate treasure, and one not-so-brave boy. What could possibly go wrong?
For centuries, the whereabouts of Captain William Kidd’s lost pirate treasure has remained a mystery. When Billy’s best friend, Andy, proposes they look for it on nearby Pirate Island, Billy thinks it’s just another one of their crazy adventures. It’s usually Billy who ends up in trouble as a result, but he goes along for the ride…like always. The more he delves into the life and death of Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound. Billy—nope, call him William—becomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name. He even believes he’s possessed by Kidd’s restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island. And what they find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.