Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Captain Kidd’s Treasures

    Here then are the simple facts of William Kidd’s descent into piracy.  Born in 1645, the son of a Scottish minister, Kidd became a merchant sailor.  In the late 1680's Kidd captained his own ship in the West Indies, attacking French shipping under the authority of a privateer's commission.  Some claim he was a pirate even at this stage, ignoring his status as a privateer and preying on the ships of all nations.  At least one legend suggests that Kidd even pirated in the China Sea during this period.  Whatever the truth of these rumors, Kidd's reputation in the colonies was excellent.  In 1691 he was employed by the Province of Massachusetts to pursue pirates off the coast of New England.  He was cited for reward and was awarded 150 pounds sterling.  Kidd's service in the West Indies the following year was equally distinguished.  Kidd had become a man of some reputation and substance in New York.

In 1695 he was visiting London when Royal officials were talking of taking steps to check the alarming activities of English and American pirates in the Red Sea.  Kidd was recommended as an able and dependable man to be sent out to round up pirates.  Kidd said he knew pirates from his "privateering" days and needed only a strong ship and good crew to master the problem.

The ADVENTURE GALLEY, a new ship of two hundred and eighty four tons and thirty four guns, was fitted out and a carefully selected crew of officers and men, nearly all family men, was put aboard.  This crew was almost immediately pressed into the navy by H.M.S.DUCHESS, which came along side in search of new crew members to refill its depleted ranks.  Kidd was forced to re-man his ship with a crew of rather dubious character.  He sailed from Plymouth in April, 1696, arriving in New York on July 4, with a French prize in tow.  Kidd stayed in New York for several months, sailing for the Red Sea in September.

Kidd cruised the waters of Madagascar and the Malabar Coast of India for months but was unable to make contact with a single pirate ship.  The crew, paid only on the basis of a percentage of the booty taken, began to grumble.  As conditions aboard the ship became intolerable through lack of food, medicine and water, the crew openly demanded that Kidd take any ships, pirate or not.

Ultimately, Kidd began pirating, seizing ships of every kind in the eastern waters.  On January 30, 1698, Kidd made his richest haul, capturing the Armenian ship QUEDAGH MERCHANT.  The captured ship was loaded with a cargo of silks, gold coins, gold bars, gold dust, silver bars, silver coins, pearls, ivory, spices, and rich cloth. 

If Captain Kidd really buried treasure in all of the places he is credited as having visited, he would have spent more time digging than sailing. Still, the legends of Kidd's treasures should not be dismissed lightly. On May 12, 1701, after sentencing, and while awaiting execution, Kidd made a desperate appeal to the House of Commons, offering to lead Royal officials to "goods and treasure to the value of one hundred thousand pounds" in exchange for a reprieve.

Legend places chests of Captain Kidd's gold in many locations in many states. In Connecticut these locations include:

Milford, New Haven County
- Charles Island off Milford
- Pilot Island off Norwalk
- Sheffield Island off Norwalk
- The Thimble Island group
- Near Middletown, Middlesex County
- Conanicut Island near old Lyme
- Clarke's Island
- On Kelsey Point in Middlesex County

In Maine:
- Wiscasset, Lincoln County

In Maryland:
- Druid Hill Park in Baltimore

In Massachusetts:
- Gold and jewels are buried near Turner Falls.

In New Jersey
- Cliffwood Beach on Raritan Bay
- Sandy Hook
- Red Bank
- Lilly Pond near Cape May Point

In New York:
- Gardiner's Island...in Kidd valley.
- Several Kidd legends center on the Hudson River:

Over one hundred legends of buried pirate treasures, and where to look for them. "...detailed descriptions of areas where treasures are thought to be buried...explanations of how the treasures originiated, and tales concerning the area of operation of the various captains. Most of the sites are in the U.S.....Legends of Pirate Gold could make that seashore vacation a new adventure." - Treasure Search Magazine

These are the stories of treasures great and small and of those who hunt for them. The book includes the world's most famous treasure cipher, sunken treasure ships, treasure caves, and tales of over fifty of the most famous lost treasures of the globe. For all who dare to go in search of golden opportunities and glittering prizes.

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