Captain Kidd walks the plank

Captain Kidd walks the plank

At London’s Execution Dock, British privateer Captain Kidd is hanged for piracy and murder. Commissioned by the British crown in 1695 to apprehend pirates in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Kidd apparently turned to piracy himself in 1697. His first major prize came in 1698 when he captured the Quedagh Merchant, an English-captained vessel loaded with gold and other valuables. Denounced as a pirate, he sailed to New York to profess his innocence, but was arrested and taken to London. He was tried on five charges of piracy and one charge of murdering a crewman. Important evidence was suppressed at the trial, and some observers questioned whether the evidence was sufficient for a guilty verdict. Convicted on all counts, he was executed in London. In later years, a colorful legend grew up around the story of William Kidd, including reports of lost buried treasure that fortune seekers have pursued for centuries.