Friday, 22 January 2016

On This Day In History - 22nd January

On This Day, the 22nd of January 1645, William Kidd was born.
That's Captain William Kidd. Not to be confused with Billy The Kid, who was a cowboy.
Captain William Kidd was a famous 17th century pirate. Although, in reality, Captain William Kidd's level of piracy is very much disputed.
Kidd was employed by the Governor of the Island of Nevis to sail his ship, Blessed William, with a small fleet of likeminded Captains, to protect the English settlement against the French. They were given permission and the authority to pillage the French ships of whatever plunder they wanted.
Kidd was later tasked with hunting enemy pirates and capturing or destroying their ships. So, far from being a pirate himself, he was actually hunting them down. He did this for a number of years and soon had a reputation for being a cruel Captain who didn't think twice about killing his crew or captives.
He came unstuck when he captured an American flagged ship carrying French papers. Normally, it would have been a good prize (at the time England was at war with France and an American ship carry French passes was basically a French ship).
Unfortunately, the ship was actually captained by an Englishman. Word got around and his actions were considered to be piracy on the high seas.
A fleet was sent after Kidd, and he was soon captured and brought back to England to stand trial, in front of Parliament itself. It didn't go well for him. Captain William Kidd was tried, found guilty, and executed on the 23rd May 1701.
Kidd's body was then gibbeted over the river Thames for three years as a warning to anyone else that would dare to be a pirate.
Out of all the pirates in history, Kidd is the only documented one who is confirmed as having hidden, buried treasure. He hid it when he found out he was being hunted, and planned to use it as a bargaining tool at his trial.
The loot has yet to be found.
Famous Births
On This Day in 1552, Sir Walter Raleigh, a famous English sailor, and maybe one-time lover of Queen Elizabeth I, was born.
On This Day in 1561, Sir Francis Bacon, the first person to see a pig and think, "Could fry that up and put it in a sandwich", was born.
On This Day in 1940, Sir John Hurt was born. He is most famous for being an English actor who has starred in loads of stuff. But, let's face it, he is The War Doctor, from Doctor Who.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this day in history! It was fascinating that they found his ship last year I believe. I always thought his story was very intriguing and had mixed emotions about his conviction.

Great posts. I'll be back.