Believed to have been born in Dundee, Scotland, William Kidd was known as a strong sailor, and while not much is known of his early life we first hear of his life as a pirate beginning in 1689. At the time Kidd was sailing with a pirate crew out of the Caribbean, but unhappy with their Captain the crew mutinied. They renamed the ship the Blessed William, and nominated Kidd as Captain. Seizing a timely wartime opportunity, with the English fighting with the French at the time, the well connected Kidd was soon backed by wealthy Englishmen to attack French ships and other pirates, and as a privateer he was permitted to keep the plunder without fear of charge, though he did have to share a portion of it with his investors.
Then in 1697 Kidd set sail for Madagascar and the Indian Ocean, at the time a pirate stronghold, but there were few French ships there for Kidd to plunder. Kidd then lost some of his crew to disease, and the remaining men were getting restless with no ships for them to take. It was then that Kidd and his crew attacked a convoy of Indian treasure ships. The move was not a success, and Kidd was foiled by the East India Company Man of War. It was also an act of piracy not covered by the rules of his privateer’s charter, and Kidd was seen once again as a pirate.
In 1698 he ran into a fellow pirate captain named Robert Culliford, who had stolen a ship from Kidd years before. Yet while the men met well, this was not to last, and Kidd’s dissatisfied crew left him to join up with Culliford.
Kidd then returned to Boston, based on the false promise of pardon by one of his former friends, Governor Bellomont, and he was shocked to discover he was a wanted pirate. Kidd’s trial caused great scandal at the time as his former backers were embarrassed. Kidd was found guilty and hanged. His body was hung over the River Thames at Tilbury Point for three years as a warning to other pirates.
However his legend lives on, and many believed Kidd had buried treasure lying in wait somewhere for some lucky soul to find. In truth Kidd had buried a small treasure at a spot known as Cherry Tree Field on Gardiners Island, but it was dug up by Governor Bellomont to be presented as evidence in his trial.