Here is the final 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!
July 6, 1699 to May 23, 1701 – Trial and Execution
by Billy Bonny
On July 6, 1699, knowing that he was wanted for piracy, Captain Kidd went to Boston thinking that Lord Bellomont (the one guy who got him into the whole privateering mess) was going to grant him clemency—meaning Kidd would likely be shown mercy for the charges against him. Instead, he was thrown in jail, along with his wife, though was released because she was completely innocent. After keeping Kidd in terrible prison conditions in Boston for over a year, the coward Bellomont turned on Kidd, sending him to prison and saving his own butt in the process.
Kidd was then imprisoned in Newgate Prison until his trial. It was only at his trial that he learned he was being tried for murdering William Moore (see my entry “September 1696 to October 16, 1697 – The Bucket Incident”) in addition to piracy. Key evidence to support Kidd, including the French papers that showed the Quedagh Merchant was legal for him to seize (see my entry “1698 to April 1699 – A Privateer Prize and the Return of the Archenemy”). As I see it—as do other historians—Kidd’s trial was a sham from the start, and he was to be the fallout guy for all pirates so the English government could say they were doing something against piracy.
May 23, 1701 is the sad, sad date when Captain Kidd was executed in England. The rope broke after the first attempt at hanging him, which was usually taken as a sign from God that the guilty party was meant to live. Kidd’s former business partners, the ones who hired and backed him as a privateer, obviously had something to hide. They wanted Kidd dead so badly that he was strung back up and successfully executed on the second try.
His body was gibbeted on the Thames River for three years as a way to discourage others from becoming pirates. Many years later, missing evidence turned up that put into question Kidd’s guilt of piracy. I am among those who maintain he wasn’t a true pirate.
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.