Captain William Kidd

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Research and interpretation of submerged cultural and biological resources emphasizing park development
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History

Captain William Kidd was born circa 1645. Though considered a legendary pirate, Kidd was actually a legal privateer who made unfortunate mistakes. On September 6, 1696, Captain William Kidd set sail for the Indian Ocean aboard the Adventure Galley as a legally contracted privateer. Two years into his voyage, Kidd and his crew caught sight of the Cara Merchant off the coast of India and flying French flags. Kidd captured her without a fight and made what appeared to be a legal privateering acquisition.

Unfortunately for Kidd, the French flags and French East India Company passes aboard the Cara Merchant were deceiving. She was a multinational investment, with trade brokered by the English East India Trading Company. The Cara Merchant was built in Surrat, India and half of her cargo belonged to a nobleman in the court of the Grand Moghul of India. The king of England was hoping to cultivate the burgeoning trade with India.

After capturing the Cara Merchant Kidd had been declared a pirate.  Kidd sailed to the Caribbean and left the Cara Merchant at Catalina Island. Having abandoned his prize, he traveled to New England in hopes of clearing his name. Once in New England, Kidd was seized and sent back to England, where he was kept in solitary confinement until his trial. With the government desiring to make an example out of him, the French passes never made it to the courtroom and Kidd was not given a proper trial. Convicted of piracy, Kidd was hung on May 23, 1701. His body was gibbeted and left hanging over the river Thames for two years, serving as a warning to those who desired the life of a pirate.

The Cara Merchant was a 400-ton vessel built in Surrat, India, built out of teak, or tectona grandis. Under Kidd, she was loaded with many bales of silks and muslins, 70-80 tons of sugar, saltpeper, 70-80 tons of scrap iron (or short junks), and 50 cannons. Thirty of these guns were mounted for use, while the others were stowed in the hull as trade goods and ballast along with short junks. Kidd maintained that he had 14-15 spare anchors aboard the ship.
According to Henry Bolton, the man with whom Kidd entrusted his ship, the Cara Merchant was left in the river across from Catalina Island. After about three month from the day Kidd had left, she was burned and set adrift. It is unknown how much was removed from the ship before she was set ablaze.

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