Ahoy ye mateys!
Gather ‘round youngins, and hear the story of one of ye olde Boston’s famous rum drinkin, cannonballing privateers, Captain William Kidd -Argh!
…[ahem] So if you follow Save the Harbor bloggers keenly, you might have noticed we all write with a weekly theme in mind. To step away from the physicality of the Harbor, this week we want to focus on the history of the Boston Harbor, and what all is hidden in the years of one of America’s oldest settlements. I’ve decided to focus on a particular man, a man of interest, the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd. His story is one of adventure and romance, and I am sure you will find his connection to the Boston Harbor to be quite an interesting one. So strap yourselves in, you scallywags, and get ready for one swash bucklin’ of a good ol’ time!
Even the beginning of William Kidd’s life is shrouded in legend and mystery. Thought to have been born in Greenock, Scotland, during his trial and execution, they found no evidence or documentation of this being his birthplace. He eventually settled in what would later become New York City as an apprentice on a pirate ship. He made friendly with local politicians there and eventually set off for the Caribbean under Captain Jean Fantin. The ship eventually succumbed to mutiny, and Kidd was appointed captain. He changed the ship’s name to The Blessed William and sailed to the British colony of Nelvis. There, he was granted the right to privateer all French ships, as an aid to the ongoing war between France and England. He plundered over 2,000 pounds sterling, and this became his rise in fame. He quickly became a popular target, having his ship stolen while in the West Indies in 1690. Kidd grew in reputation as having a small, but strong crew. His political connections led him to undergo direct missions from high government officials, obtaining a better ship and larger crew, all while having legal permission to privateer in the new england seas.
Though his close ties with politicians, Kidd was quite rebellious towards the government. His refusal to salute the flag, and even go so far as mooning an officers ship, the Navy removed parts of his crew in order to short staff Kidd’s boat. His response? He sailed to the City, while capturing an enemy French ship just to show off his skill and prowess. To make up for his lack of crew, Kidd recruited replacements from harsh prisons. While his crew quickly began to be regarded as violent due to their bloodthirsty nature, Kidd often disproved of their savage behavior, and had to work hard to maintain leadership.
Throughout the years, Captain Kidd continued to build fame, he continued to plunder both legally and illegally. He eventually met his fate after being betrayed by a political connection, who turned Kidd in for immunity. Sensing his capture, Kidd decided to bury his treasure by a nearby island in order to use it as a bargaining chip. Kidd was tried and convicted of murder and piracy, and was publically hanged in May of 1701. On his first attempt, the hangman's rope broke. At this time, rope snapping during an execution was often thought of as a sign from God and called for the release of the criminal. Kidd, however, was hanged again minutes later.
Kidd’s secret location to his buried treasure was revealed later on, and was rumored to have the riches of “Two hundred bars of gold”. The location of the treasure, is what ties the famous Captain Kidd to the Boston Harbor. It is rumored that he buried his loot in the shores of Long Island, home to our very own Camp Harbor View! So next time your exploring the beaches, make sure you keep a careful eye out for any sunken treasure…
I hope you guys enjoyed this little storytime session, it was a lot of fun to research. I look forward to sharing this information with the kids at CHV, and searching for treasure myself. I will see you all next week!
Your pal, your best friend, your First Mate,