After repeated requests, I have listed the (almost) complete Captain Kidd trial transcript on this site. It is very exact, very wordy and very long! It is supplied by popular request. I have interjected along the way with my own observations. I guess that if I want this site to be regarded as the ULTIMATE Captain Kidd site, I have to comply with my reader’s insatiable demands for accuracy and substance. So pour yourself a cup of coffee, relax and read on.
I have broken down this section into its three main constituents ~ Pre Trial Procedure, Murder Trial and Piracy Trial. Each section can be accessed by the History - Trial Transcript drop down menu above.
As you will read, Kidd was declared guilty of murder, which meant he faced certain execution, before his trial for piracy was completed ~ making the whole piracy proceedings a sham and mockery of justice.
The trial of Captain Kidd was a staged affair (today we would call it a Show Trial), where the eventual outcome was politically prescribed. Whether Kidd was stupidly naive, or whether he believed his influential backers would intervene to save him from the gallows I don’t know ~ but throughout the proceedings, he appeared to believe that he was receiving a fair trial, and participated with earnest endeavour.
History ~ Trial Transcript
The trial of Captain William Kidd was practically begun in the House of Commons, March 29th, 1701. The Journal of that date reads as follows:
"Resolved, that a humble address be presented to his majesty, by such members of this House as are of his majesty's honourable privy Council, that he will please to give order, that Captain Kidd may be proceeded against according to law."
On April 1, 1701 The King gave the necessary directions for the "Trial to proceed according to Law".
Previous to this date, Captain Kidd had appeared in person before Parliament to give an account of the various expeditions he had commanded. He had been brought from New York, where he had been arrested by order of the Earl of Bellomont in an English ship (HMS Advice) sent for that purpose and confined in Newgate prison. The Earl of Bellomont, then Governor of New England, "had been ordered to transmit to the House of Commons all commissions, instructions, and other papers relating to Captain Kidd." After these papers had been read to the House, the Speaker was ordered to issue a warrant to the Keeper of Newgate for Captain Kidd to appear before the bar of the House. He was examined by that body and remanded to prison.
On April 16th 1701 Captain Kidd requested that his commission, given him by the King under the Great Seal of England, and other papers necessary for his vindication, should be returned to him. The Clerk of the House sent them to the Secretary of the Admiralty. Captain Kidd complained greatly of the delay in receiving these papers.
He seems to have had a few influential friends, as well as a number of powerful enemies in England during the reign of William III. A State Tract was published in which it was thought advisable to make an elaborate vindication of the measures adopted against Captain William Kidd, which was entitled "A Full Account of the Proceedings in relation to Captain Kidd."
The Earl of Bellamout and Colonel Livingston of New York were friends of Captain Kidd when he first inaugurated his enterprises in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast. Perhaps he was guilty of an unfair division of the spoils. There are countless tales of treasures hidden by this mysterious and daring mariner of Colonial days. Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina, the rich cotton bearing sea Islands, all along the shores of the great dismal swamp, are places he was said to frequent for the purpose of burying part of his riches before he should reach New York.
The earlier local historians openly claimed there was collusion between the Earl of Bellamont, Colonel Livingston and Captain Kidd. A careful reading of the trials here given does not discount this conjecture.
There were six indictments against Captain William Kidd, one for the murder of a sailor named William Moore, and five for piracy. The trial, for " Murder and Piracy upon the High Seas," was held at the Old-Bailey, May 8, 1701.
Site content (text and Images) are the property of Paul Hawkins - © All rights reserved
Site design and layout Copyright 2000/9 Paul Hawkins - All rights reserved
Lord Chief Baron Ward