Captain William Kidd leading up to his trial for piracy.

Essay by kimnads790University, Master'sA-, April 2003

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The High Courts of England define piracy as "acts of robbery and violence upon the sea, which if committed on land, would be a felony. Pirates hold no commission or delegated authority from any sovereign or state empowering them to attack others." In this paper I will examine the acts of William Kidd according to record and review them with respects to the definition in attempts to identify them as piratical activity.

First off, let us examine a statement attributed William Kidd. In his book Under the Black Flag, David Cordingly attributes some quotes to Captain Kidd, the first of which is an account were he declares to his men: "Come boys, I will make money enough out of the fleet. " in reference to the ship Sceptre of a pilgrimage fleet to Mecca. Though, Kidd was carrying a letter of marque from William III, it is made clear that he intends to make profitability a goal of his adventures as well as a motivational factor for his crew.

In fact Governor Fletcher of New York described Kidd and his crew as "men of desperate fortunes and necessitous of getting vast treasure ." This statement, though ambiguous as to a specific nature of their activity, does have implications suggesting a goal of more than just servitude to the crown. In fact, Kidd even offered the Governor of Saint Thomas 45,000 pieces in exchange for harboring and protecting him . If Kidd was solely intending to act with respects to authority, such a request would have been very unusual.

Secondly, consider some of the acts of Kidd, the first of which was the assault of the crew of the Sceptre. While Kidd was "interviewing" the ship's captain, a man named Parker, members of the Adventure Galley's assaulted Parker's men and...