Began life as a pickpocket and housebreaker in London. He was Captain Roberts's lieutenant, and was afterwards given command of a prize, the Rover.
Kennedy could never, even when a captain, forget his old trade. It is recorded that he stole a black suit of clothes from the captain of the Bird at Sierra Leone in 1718. These he put on with the captain's best wig and sword. He then swaggered about on board in these till his fellow-pirates drenched him with buckets of claret, so that he had to disrobe and throw the garments overboard.
Owing to a quarrel with Captain Roberts, Kennedy went off in his ship, the Rover, and sailed to Barbadoes. His first prize, a Boston ship, was a distinct novelty, being commanded by one Captain Knot, a Quaker, who lived up to the principles of his sect by allowing no pistol, sword, or cutlass, or other weapon aboard his vessel. The crew, finding Kennedy had no knowledge whatever of navigation, threatened to throw him overboard, but because he was a man of great personal courage they did not in the end carry out their threat. The crew next decided to give over piracy and to set sail for Ireland. This island they altogether missed through bad navigation, and they ran the ship ashore on the north of Scotland. The crew landed and passed themselves off as shipwrecked mariners, but owing to their drinking and rioting in each village they came to, the whole countryside was soon roused. Kennedy slipped away and reached Ireland. Having soon spent all his ill-gotten gains in Dublin, he came to Deptford and set up a house of ill-fame, adding occasionally to his income from this source by a little highwaymanry. One of the ladies of his house at Deptford, to be revenged for some slight or other, gave information to the watch, and Kennedy was imprisoned at Marshalsea and afterwards tried for robbery and piracy. Kennedy turned King's evidence against some of his old associates, but this did not save his neck, for he was condemned and hanged at Execution Dock.
KIDD, Captain William, sometimes Robert Kidd or Kid.
In the whole history of piracy there is no name that has so taken the world's fancy than has that of William Kidd. And yet, if he be judged by his actions as a pirate, he must be placed amongst the second- or even third-rate masters of that craft. He took but two or three ships, and these have been, after two hundred years, proved to be lawful prizes taken in his legal capacity as a privateer.
Kidd was born at Greenock in Scotland about the year 1655, and was the son of the Rev. John Kidd. Of his early life little record is left, but we know that in August, 1689, he arrived at St. Nevis in the West Indies, in command of a privateer of sixteen guns. In 1691, while Kidd was on shore, his crew ran away with his ship, which was not surprising, as most of his crew were old pirates. But that Kidd was an efficient seaman and a capable captain is shown by the number of times he was given the command of different privateer vessels, both by the Government of New York and by privateer owners.
In 1695 Kidd was in London, and on October 10th signed the articles which were to prove so fatal for him. In January, 1696, King William III. issued to his "beloved friend William Kidd" a commission to apprehend certain pirates, particularly Thomas Tew, of Rhode Island, Thomas Wake, and William Maze, of New York, John Ireland, and "all other Pirates, Free-booters, and Sea Rovers of what Nature soever."
This privateer enterprise was financed chiefly by Lord Bellomont, but the other adventurers (on shore and in safety) were the Lord Chancellor; the Earl of Orford, the First Lord of the Admiralty; the Earl of Romney and the Duke of Shrewsbury, Secretaries of State; Robert Livingston, Esq., of New York; and lastly, Captain Kidd himself.
The ship the Adventure galley was bought and fitted up, and Kidd sailed away in her to suppress piracy, particularly on the coast of America. Nothing was heard of him till August, 1698, when ugly rumours began to get about of piracies committed by Kidd in the Indian Ocean. In December of the same year a general pardon was offered to all pirates who should surrender themselves, with two exceptions—namely, Captain Avery and Captain Kidd. In May, 1699, Kidd suddenly appeared in a small vessel at New York, with rich booty. His chief patron, Lord Bellomont, was now Governor, and was placed in the most awkward position of having to carry out his orders and arrest Kidd for piracy and send him in chains to England in H.M.S. Advice, which ship had been sent specially to New York to carry back Kidd, Bradish, and other pirates to England.
The trial of Kidd proved a scandal, for someone had to suffer as scapegoat for the aristocratic company privateers, and the lot fell to the luckless Kidd. Kidd was charged with piracy and with murder. The first charge of seizing two ships of the Great Mogul could have been met by the production of two documents which Kidd had taken out of these ships, and which, he claimed, proved that the ships were sailing under commissions issued by the French East India Company, and made them perfectly lawful prizes. These commissions Kidd had most foolishly handed over to Lord Bellomont, and they could not be produced at the trial, although they had been exhibited before the House of Commons a little while previously.
It is an extraordinary and tragic fact that these two documents, so vital to Kidd, were discovered only lately in the Public Records Office—too late, by some 200 years, to save an innocent man's life.
As it happened, the charge of which Kidd was hanged for was murder, and ran thus: "Being moved and seduced by the instigations of the Devil he did make an assault in and upon William Moore upon the high seas with a certain wooden bucket, bound with iron hoops, of the value of eight pence, giving the said William Moore one mortal bruise of which the aforesaid William Moore did languish and die." This aforesaid William Moore was gunner in the Adventure galley, and was mutinous, and Kidd, as captain, was perfectly justified in knocking him down and even of killing him; but as the court meant Kidd to "swing," this was quite good enough for finding him guilty. The unfortunate prisoner was executed at Wapping on May 23rd, 1701, and his body afterwards hanged in chains at Tilbury.
A PIRATE BEING HANGED AT EXECUTION DOCK, WAPPING. A PIRATE BEING HANGED AT EXECUTION DOCK, WAPPING.
A popular ballad was sung to commemorate the life and death of Kidd, who, for some reason, was always called Robert Kidd by the populace. It consists of no less than twenty-four verses, and we here give fifteen of them:
THE BALLAD OF CAPTAIN KIDD
My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed, when I sailed,
My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed,
My name was Robert Kidd,
God's laws I did forbid,
And so wickedly I did, when I sailed.
My parents taught me well, when I sailed, when I sailed,
My parents taught me well, when I sailed,
My parents taught me well,
To shun the gates of hell,
But 'gainst them I rebelled, when I sailed.
I'd a Bible in my hand, when I sailed, when I sailed,
I'd a Bible in my hand, when I sailed,
I'd a Bible in my hand,
By my father's great command,
And sunk it in the sand, when I sailed.
I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I murdered William Moore, as I sailed,
I murdered William Moore,
And laid him in his gore,
Not many leagues from shore, as I sailed.
I was sick and nigh to death, when I sailed, when I sailed,
I was sick and nigh to death, when I sailed,
I was sick and nigh to death,
And I vowed at every breath,
To walk in wisdom's ways, as I sailed.
I thought I was undone, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I thought I was undone, as I sailed,
I thought I was undone,
And my wicked glass had run,
But health did soon return, as I sailed.
My repentance lasted not, as I sailed, as I sailed,
My repentance lasted not, as I sailed,
My repentance lasted not,
My vows I soon forgot,
Damnation was my lot, as I sailed.
I spyed the ships from France, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I spyed the ships of France, as I sailed,
I spyed the ships from France,
To them I did advance,
And took them all by chance, as I sailed.
I spyed the ships of Spain, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I spyed the ships of Spain, as I sailed,
I spyed the ships of Spain,
I fired on them amain,
'Till most of them was slain, as I sailed.
I'd ninety bars of gold, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I'd ninety bars of gold, as I sailed,
I'd ninety bars of gold,
And dollars manifold,
With riches uncontrolled, as I sailed.
Thus being o'er-taken at last, I must die, I must die,
Thus being o'er-taken at last, I must die,
Thus being o'er-taken at last,
And into prison cast,
And sentence being passed, I must die.
Farewell, the raging main, I must die, I must die,
Farewell, the raging main, I must die,
Farewell, the raging main,
To Turkey, France and Spain,
I shall n'er see you again, I must die.
To Execution Dock I must go, I must go,
To Execution Dock I must go,
To Execution Dock,
Will many thousands flock,
But I must bear the shock, and must die.
Come all ye young and old, see me die, see me die,
Come all ye young and old, see me die,
Come all ye young and old,
You're welcome to my gold,
For by it I've lost my soul, and must die.
Take warning now by me, for I must die, for I must die,
Take warning now by me, for I must die,
Take warning now by me,
And shun bad company,
Lest you come to hell with me, for I die.
One of Major Stede Bonnet's crew. Was hanged at Charleston, South Carolina, on November 8th, 1718, and buried in the marsh below low-water mark.
KNIGHT, Captain W. Buccaneer.
In 1686 Knight was cruising off the coast of Peru and Chile with Swan, Townley, and Davis. At the end of that year, having got a fair quantity of plunder, he sailed round the Horn to the West Indies.