William James Kidd was the son of a strictPresbyterian minister, and it has oftenbeen suggested that Kidd’s piracy was anact of rebellion against his overbearingfather. Certainly, the fact that he lived insuch a busy seaport town like Greenockwould have made a life on the open seaa more tempting proposition. No exactdate is known for the beginning of Kidd’sseafaring career, although by 1690 hehad become established as a shipownerin colonial New York, presumably havingspent the intervening years on the highseas.In 1695 Kidd, known only as a well-to-do New York colonist, returned to Britainhoping to serve his King as captain of aRoyal Navy warship. While Kidd waitedin England for a vessel to command,the Whig-dominated Board of Tradepondered a related concern--the pirateswho were disrupting commerce betweenEngland and her Indian colonies. TheKing’s advisors decided that what wasneeded was an aggressive privateer whocould battle the pirates on their ownterms, and perhaps prey on a few Frenchmerchantmen as the opportunity arose.Fatefully enough the Board reached thisconclusion almost as Kidd came knocking onthe door, asking for a ship to command.Kidd was intially unwillingly to accept,wishing to hold out for a more legitimatecommission in the Royal Navy. Howeverhis reluctance was interpreted as a signof disloyalty towards the King and it washinted that shoud he refuse, he would haveno hope of ever obtaining a post in the KingsNavy. Thus Kidd was persuaded to acceptthe position of an ofﬁciated privateer.This commission, issued by King Williamhimself, granted Kidd the power toapprehend “pirates, free-booters, andsea-rovers, being our subjects or of othernations associated with them.” The bootytaken from these pirates would be returnedto Boston, where it would be divided amongthe principals in this venture. This ideawould be backed by the king, because analarming rise in piracy was putting a crimp inEngland’s supply line. If the King could see away of reducing piracy while contributing tohis own dwindling money supply, he wouldsurely take it.If Kidd encountered any resistance fromthe pirates, he was encouraged “by forceto compel them to yield.” He was alsogiven a special “commission of reprisals”that justiﬁed his taking French ships, anauthorization given to him because Englandwas involved in a war with France.There was one condition to the agreement;Kidd was ordered never to attack the shipsof an country allied with the English. TheBoard commissioned the building of thenow famous Adventure Galley, a 287-ton,34-cannon ship, for £6,000. With a crewof 80, Kidd left Plymouth in February 1696and by August, there were eight wealthypartners reaping the beneﬁts of Kidd’sreprisals against piracy, including KingWilliam, who received 10 percent of thedivided booty in an underhand deal struckwith the partners. His eventual destinationwould be Madagascar, home of the mostnotorious pirates in the world. Avoidingthe normal pirate haunts, he arrived byFebruary 1697 at the Comoro Islands off East Africa. Some time after his arrivalthere, Kidd, still robbed of the gloryof having taken a prize ship, decided toturn to piracy. In August 1697 he made anattack on ships sailing with Mocha coffeefrom Yemen, which proved unsuccessful,although he later captured several smallships. His crew came close to mutiny twomonths later, when Kidd refused to attacka Dutch ship, and in an angry exchangeKidd mortally wounded one of his crew. Amost vocal member of the crew, gunnerWillam Moore, had long complained aboutKidd’s lack of aggression. The two arguedconstantly about the nature of theircommission - an angry exchange whichﬁnally ended in Kidd dealing a fatal blowto the man with a wooden bucket. Themurder decreased Kidd’s popularity amongthe crew and he realised that his reign ascaptain would soon come to an end if hedid not start raiding ships and bringing inthe booty. Thus he threw caution to thewind in his reckless pursuit of treasure.His ﬁrst victim was the Armenian ship“Quedagh Merchant”, taken by Kidd inJanuary 1698. This was the ﬁnal straw forKidd, and when he reached the West Indiesin April 1699, he learned that he had beendenounced as a pirate. Taken into custodyin New York, Kidd was sent back to Englandfor trial, where he was unable to convincethe authorities of his innocence.