WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE FOR THE CONSPIRACY?
One of the most glaring pieces of evidence indicating a possible conspiracy was the omittance of Averys name from the King’s Commission given to Kidd. It is inconceivable to believe the establishment who drafted the Commission, knew and included the names of the supporting players in the taking of the Great Mogul’s ships (Wake, Mace, Tew, Ireland and Want), but did not know and/or omitted the name of the ringleader (Avery).
Did the English establishment have designs on a deal with Avery who, according to various accounts, offered to pay off England’s national debt from the proceeds of his enormous prize in return for the King’s pardon? Kidd may well have been briefed about this matter before he left London and was set up to be the clandestine intermediary between the English establishment and Avery.
I have always wondered why Kidd sailed for New York from London/Plymouth instead of sailing down the west coast of Africa, around the Cape and into the Indian Ocean direct. Some historians have explained this by assuming that Kidd wanted to say his farewells to his wife before embarking on his dangerous mission? or he sailed all the way to New York to recruit additional crew? ~ Definitely Not ! ~ there has to be another, more profound reason why Kidd sailed first to New York (adding an extra 7000 miles to his voyage) before setting out for the Indian Ocean on his much publicized mission.
The establishment in England must have received intelligence information from one of the many ships and merchants operating between London and the Indies about Avery’s intention to return to America at the end of his Indian Ocean adventure, where he organized the taking of the Great Mogul’s treasure ships seven months before Kidd set out from London. This is why I believe Kidd was sent to America by his overlords and ordered to enter New York in grand style with all guns blazing ~ to announce his arrival to all (especially to Avery!). I believe he was sent there to make himself available to Avery ~ to receive information about the location of Avery’s treasures ~ which would be diverted to the King’s exchequer in return for the King’s pardon. This is a classic example of “set a thief to catch a thief” !
Kidd, supported by Fletcher and Livingston may very well have arranged to put the word out to the criminal/pirate underworld of his desire to meet Avery ~ for their common good.
The English establishment could not be seen to be negotiating with Avery direct, as this would have angered the Great Mogul even more, and would have certainly spelled the end of the profitable English/Indian eastern trade routes, which the powerful London merchants demanded the state protect.
DID KIDD AND AVERY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET?
Avery anchored in Boston harbour at the end of his Indian Ocean adventure in June 1696 and Kidd shipped into New York from England at the beginning of his Indian Ocean adventure in July 1696. Kidd’s much heralded arrival into New York, with guns blazing, would certainly have reached Avery’s ears, who was believed to be hiding out less than 200 miles (only two days sailing) away in and around the Boston area under an assumed name (Benjamin Bridgeman). If you have read the previous section about John Avery, you will know that I seriously question whether Avery returned to Ireland/England in June as he was reported to have done ~ so if you accept this caveat ~ Kidd and Avery certainly had the opportunity to meet, probably sometime in August 1696. After their believed meeting and exchange, Kidd departed for the Indian Ocean and Avery may have embarked to Ireland/England, presumably to await news of his expected forthcoming pardon. The truth is ~ Avery was such a devious and duplicitous schemer, no one really knows where Avery spent the remainder of his life. All we know for sure is that he was never arrested for his crimes.
Avery knew he was wanted by the authorities. He also knew his fellow pirate fraternity was searching for him after committing the biggest sin any pirate could ever commit ~ double crossing his brethren in arms. His old Indian Ocean crew now wanted to settle down to a respectable life with their new found wealth and had made their getaway back to England via Ireland.
With Avery’s reputation running before him, he would have found it impossible to recruit another crew to return to the Indian Ocean to retrieve the treasure/s I believe he left concealed there. Avery was just too dangerous a person to be associated with.
I believe Avery solved his dilemma by arranging a clandestine meeting with Kidd during August 1696 in or around the New York/Boston area. At the meeting, I believe Avery offered to show Kidd the location of his concealed treasure/s in return for the King’s pardon. This begs the question, was Fletcher, Livingston and Bellomont aware of Avery’s offer and implicated in arranging the Avery/Kidd meeting before Kidd set out for the Indian Ocean? There has always been suspicion as to their real knowledge and involvement in the affair.
If we look at the map outline, it is clear the map has been used as a visual aid, to assist the narrator (Avery) explain to the receiver of the information (Kidd) where to get through the fringing reef to gain landfall on to the island (1), the path to take around the island, denoted by dotted lines (2) and the location of the buried treasure chests, denoted by the heavy dots (3).
The three lines of text underneath the island’s outline refer to the latitude and longitude of the island site, together with the dead reckoning course to be taken from a set known location. This is why Avery began and ended his Indian Ocean adventure in the Comoros Islands, and the reason why Kidd made straight for the Comoros Islands after he rounded the Cape at the start of his Indian Ocean mission.
The “Morgan” or as I prefer to call it ~ the “Avery” map ~ that I believe Kidd received from Avery at their clandestine meeting and which he took to the Indian Ocean with him
HOW DID THE CONSPIRACY AFFECT KIDD’S ACTIONS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN?
So now we can start to address the questions that has always held a mystery for past researchers, which I raised at the start of this section.
I believe Kidd WAS on a dual mission. His official and overt presence in the Indian Ocean to rid the region of piracy was designed to appease the anger of the Great Mogul, preserve the profitable east west trade routes and satisfy the demands of the powerful London merchants. However, his real mission, known only to a select few, was to secretly meet and be briefed by John Avery in New York, and then to locate and retrieve Avery’s concealed treasure in the Indies in return for Avery’s pardon, which may or may not have been honoured.
This is why Kidd felt able to offer his New York recruits 60% of the prizes instead of 25% as specified in the terms of his commission, and which influenced his actions (or non-action) throughout his Indian Ocean cruise.
The main bone of contention of Kidd’s crew in the Indian Ocean was their Captain’s apparent reluctance to attack shipping they considered fair game. Kidd had no need to risk his life in pursuit of lining his pockets ~ he knew they were already lined. Apart from a skirmish with a flotilla of Dutch ships (from which Kidd fled in haste), he hardly fired a shot in anger during his Indian Ocean cruise. The Quedagh Merchant (his one and only real prize) was taken as a result of bluffing the Master (Wright) into thinking the Adventure Galley was a French ship, by running up the French flag and using a French speaking crew member to hail the Master of the Quedagh Merchant in French and order him to board the Adventure Galley. When Wright boarded and showed Kidd his French papers, Kidd uttered his immortal words “Ah ~ I have Catched You” and promptly captured the vessel without a shot being fired. The Quedagh Merchant was a richly laden ship, but not rich enough to justify Kidd’s claim of his “concealed goods and treasure in the Indies to the Value of £100,000” that he wrote about and boasted about. Don’t forget, 60% of the value of the Quedagh Merchant was committed to the crew, so Kidd only retained 40% or forty shares as described at his trial.
The supposed confrontation with Culliford in Ste. Marie simply did not happen. According to testimony heard at Kidd’s trial, the two Captains enjoyed each others company, exchanged presents, drank together and helped each other re-equip their ships.
His crew did not mutiny as Kidd claimed, they simply transferred to Culliford’s crew aboard the Mocha Frigate to continue their piratical ways under a new Captain, after receiving their share out (60%) from Kidd.
The transfer of the majority of his unruly crew may very well have been engineered and promoted by Kidd, who had more important issues to attend to ~ his pending voyage to Avery’s island using the map that Avery gave him in New York/Boston, and the search for the concealed chests.
After Culliford left St. Marie in July to resume his piratical ways with his newly formed crew, I believe Kidd quickly recruited enough crew to manage the Quedagh Merchant and made the short hop around the northern tip of Madagascar to the Comoros Islands ~ his new base ~ away from the pirate’s haven and prying eyes.
History ~ The Conspiracy Theory
Clandestine meeting of Kidd and Avery in or around Boston when Avery gave Kidd his treasure island map
DID KIDD DISCOVER AVERY’S ISLAND AND CONCEALED CHESTS?
I believe Kidd left the Quedagh Merchant in the Comoros Islands to be prepared for her return voyage to America and acquired a small sloop for the next part of his mission. With a small and trusted crew, he embarked on the dead reckoning course (as encoded on Avery’s map in his possession) from a fixed known location in the Comoros Islands to Avery’s island.
We know that Kidd must have located the island, otherwise we wouldn’t have his map! Kidd’s map is geometrically very detailed and accurate, which indicates that Kidd must have spent several weeks walking the island with his back staff and compass whilst searching for Avery’s concealed caches of treasure chests, and plotting the line of sight bearings and triangulations (which I have identified) which he applied to his map when he relocated a number of Avery’s chests on the same island. I have visited the island and am able to verify the geometric and confirm the physical accuracy of his maps. I believe Kidd may have broken open one of the chests, took out enough to satisfy his backers, and buried the remainder (the 4th neat) at the back of the cave on an island which he named Yunnan Island, which I have also identified (see 5th Discovery in the Maps section).
Kidd’s “geometric” map ~ which he carefully drew to conceal the places where he relocated the chests Avery had concealed on the island two years before in 1695
Kidd then returned to the Comoros Islands, recruited his crew and departed the Indian Ocean for the long return voyage to America at the end of November 1698.
When Kidd arrived in the Caribbean in April 1699, he discovered that he had been branded a pirate, and a King’s warrant had been issued for his arrest.
The English establishment’s solution to end the piracy problem, which endangered the eastern trade routes, was to offer all pirates a King’s Proclamation of Amnesty, which was duly accepted by the vast majority of pirates.
Only two persons were excluded from the benefits of the proclamation ~ Avery and Kidd.
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