PortCities London

Captain Kidd (1645-1701)

Known for

Captain Kidd standing over the treasure he buried at Gardiners Island
View full size imageCaptain Kidd standing over the treasure he buried at Gardiner's Island. © NMM

Captain William Kidd is everyone's idea of the ‘swashbuckling’ pirate.

He was celebrated in England as one of the most colourful outlaws of the 17th century.

Port connection

Captain Kidd hanging in chains
View full size imageCaptain Kidd hanging in chains. © NMM

Captain Kidd was hanged at Execution Dock at Wapping on the River Thames.

Kidd’s body was suspended in an iron cage at Tilbury Point for years as a warning to other seamen against piracy.

Interesting facts

It has been claimed that important evidence in two of the piracy cases was concealed at the trial, and some observers doubted whether Kidd was in fact guilty.

The first rope around Kidd’s neck broke so he had to be strung up for a second time.

Treasure hunters are still searching today for his legendary ‘buried treasure’ and for the Quedagh Merchant, whose wreck lies undiscovered somewhere in the Caribbean.

Life story

1645Born in Greenock, Scotland.
1688He captained a privateer (a private warship) commissioned to protect the English colonies in the Caribbean from French attacks.
1690Kidd was an established sea captain and ship owner in New York.
1695He received a royal commission to apprehend pirates who attacked ships of the East India Company in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
1696Kidd sailed from London on board the 'Adventure Galley' bound for New York and then on to the Red Sea.
1698While in the Red Sea he took the 'Quedagh Merchant' with a cargo thought to be worth £7000, and renamed her 'Adventure Prize'.
1700Kidd was sent back to England on board the frigate 'Advice' to stand trial.
1701He was convicted of murder and multiple piracies and was hanged at Execution Dock in London.