Kidd’s Dying Words

January 13, 2021

American Folklore

This version of an anonymous English ballad that appeared on Kidd’s execution day was very popular in America. For some reason, Kidd was called Robert in this ballad.

but first, a little history…”William Kidd was born around 1645 in Scotland, he became a sea captain and by 1691 was a respectful merchant in New York. Officially commissioned in 1695 to apprehend the pirate Thomas Tew, Kidd blundered into evidence that leading members of the English establishment were having dealings with their French opposite. England was at war with France at the time. Kidd was seized and after a rigged trial in London in 1701, was found guilty and hanged for murder and piracy.” (American Legends and Folklore, 1978)

this story comes from American Folklore and Legends by Reader’s Digest. These are not my words…

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You captains brave and bold, hear our cries, hear our cries
Tho’ you seem uncontrolled, don’t for the sake of gold lose your souls
My name is Robert Kidd when I sailed, when I sailed
My name is Robert Kidd, when I sailed
My name is Robert Kidd, God’s lwas I did forbid
And so wickedly I did when I sailed
I curs’d my father dear and her that did me bear
And so wickedly did swear when I sailed
I steer’d from sound to sound as I sailed, as I sailed
I steer’d from sound to sound and many ships I found
And most of them I burn’d as I sailed
I’d 90 bars of gold as I sailed, as I sailed
I’d 90 bars of gold as I sailed
I’d 90 bars of gold and dollars manifold
With riches uncontrolled as I sailed
Then 14 ships I see as I sailed, as I sailed
Then 14 ships I see as I sailed
Then 14 ships I see and all brave men they be
And they were too hard for me, as I sailed
Thus being overtaken at last, I must die, I must die
Thus being overtaken at last and into prison cast
And sentence being past, I must die
To Execution Dock I must go, I must go
To Execution Dock where many thousands flock
But I must bear my shock, and must die
Take warning now by me, for I must die, I must die
Take warning now by me, I must die
Take warning now by me, for I must die
Take warning now by me and shun bad company
Lest you come to Hell with me, for I must die.

Captain Kidd (1945)

CAPTAIN KIDD

All the Spectacle and Romance of the Seas
Greatest Adventure Sensation!
(1945 motion picture)

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Captain Kidd was hanged in a public execution on 23 May 1701, at Execution Dock, Wapping, in London. The rope broke, and even though the public’s outcry that this was a sign from God, he was hanged again moments later. His body was gibbeted over the River Thames at Tilbury Point for three years, as a warning against piracy. (wikipedia)

A gibbet is any tool/instrument used for public execution, gibbeting refers to a gallows type structure that the dead or dying bodies of criminals were hung for public display. (wikipedia)

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Captain Kidd, gibbeted, following his execution
in 1701
(wikipedia)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe, The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving, and Plum Island by Nelson DeMille are based on the legend that Captain Kidd had buried treasure, somewhere out there. He did bury a small cache on Gardiners Island in a spot known as Cherry Tree Field, but Governor Bellomont removed it and sent it to England as evidence against Captain Kidd.

Howard Pyle’s painting of Kidd burying treasure
(wikipedia)

hope you have a great day!
thank for stopping by!!

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

~ H.L. Mencken

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take care
stay safe
much love

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