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The Captain Kidd Pub

108 Wapping High Street, Wapping, E1
Tel: (0) 171 480 5759
Tube: Wapping

Captain William Kidd was born in Greenock, Scotland. Kidd went to sea as a young man, and by 1690 was established as a shipowner in colonial New York. In 1695 he went to England where, backed by Richard Coote, Earl of Bellamont, he was commissioned as a privateer to operate against pirates. After he had sailed to Madagascar as captain of the ship Adventure the following year, reports reached England that he himself had turned to piracy. In 1697 and 1698 he seized several ships off the east coast of Africa, the richest of which was an Armenian vessel, the Quedagh Merchant. Arriving in the West Indies in 1699 and learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest, he proceeded to Oyster Bay, Long Island, and then to Boston, where his former patron Lord Bellamont was governor. Kidd tried to justify his acts, but Bellamont sent him to England for trial where he was convicted of piracy.

On May 23, 1701 Captain Kidd was taken to Wapping, where the crudely built scaffolding of Execution Dock loomed against the sky. Kidd stood overlooking the spot where he had weighed anchor in the Adventure five years before. At the first attempt to hang him the rope broke, but at the second attempt he met his end and his body was left tied to the scaffolding until the traditional three tides had washed and sucked Wapping mud over it. It was taken to Tilbury Point, on the Essex side of the Thames, and hung in chains as a warning to other 'pirates'.

Some of Kidd's treasure was found on Gardiners Island, at the eastern end of Long Island, and the belief long persisted that more was buried nearby.

From the river Execution Dock is marked with a large letter 'E' on the building at the site of Swan Wharf. The Gallows were transferred here from St. Katherine's Dock in Elizabethan times. Following hanging and the customary passing of three tides over the dead pirate, sea rover and other nautical felon, bodies was often tarred for preservation and dangled from gibbets positioned in various prominent places on the riverbank to discourage those with villainous intent.

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