top of page

SOURCES TO SUPPORT THE

Captain Kidd Pardon Movement

Anchor 1

These sources are evidence that prove Captain William Kidd should not have been sentenced as guilty for piracy, nor should he have been sentenced for intended murder, and grant him favor of a pardon. There is no disputing that the quarrel between Captain William Kidd and William Moore resulted in the death of William Moore, however, when the historical evidence is analyzed as a whole, this evidence suggests the assault was not intended murder. 

General Sources

- Public Record Office (London): Government reports from the Leeward Islands (CO152:37). Kidd’s Caribbean days.

- Hinrichs, Dunbar. The Fateful Voyage of Captain Kidd (NY, 1955)

- Zacks, Richard. The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd (NY, 2002)

- Brooks, Graham ed. Trial of Captain Kidd (London, 1930). Court transcript; British establishment view.

The counter argument to the First Trial and Sentence: for the Murder of

William Moore upon the High Seas

On October 30, 1697, Kidd assaulted gunner William Moore aboard the Adventure Galley when Moore and several other crew members plotted to turn pirate and seize an illegal capture. Without addressing the debate on whether or not mutiny was happening, we do know for a fact that William Moore died - but was it manslaughter or murder? The cook, Abel Owens, claimed to hear a conversation between Kidd and Moore where Kidd threatened Moore and other crew men that they would not be able to come back if they left to go pirating. Kidd and Moore engaged in an argument by this point. When Moore insulted Kidd, claiming “You have brought us to ruin”, Kidd reacted angrily by swinging a metal pail at Moore and striking him over the head. Moore was then taken below deck to treat his injuries, but he died the next day due to a fractured skull. Joseph Palmer, a crew member of the Adventure Galley, was one of the eye-witnesses for the prosecution of the trial of this interaction between Moore and Kidd. Palmer claimed multiple times to the jury that there was 'No Mutiny' happening during this exchange between Kidd and Moore, and he claimed all was calm. However, Palmer’s original deposition to Governor Cranston two years earlier states, “Capt. Kid in a passion struck his Gunner, as it was said, with an Iron bound Bucket, w.ch blow he lived not above twenty-four hours after, but I was not upon ye deck when ye blow was struck.” In Kidd’s trial, the judge defines a murder charge, “that Law implies malice, when one man without any reasonable cause or provocation, kills another. If there be a sudden falling out, and fighting, and one is killed in heat of Blood, then our law calls it Manslaughter.”  The above evidence proves Kidd should not have been convicted of murder; it cannot be proven that Kidd intended to murder Moore since the eye-witness testimony of Palmer is unreliable. 

Sources to counter the First Trial and Sentence

- Admiralty Papers: Captain’s letters (ADM 1/2004) Kidd’s letters; ADM 1/2636 Thomas Warden’s letters

- Massachusetts governor’s documents sent to the board of trade (CO5:860; CO5:861). Includes Palmer’s original deposition.

- Massachusetts Bay Council Minutes (CO5:787)

- Printed Manuscripts: ”Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period: Illustrative Documents,” J. Franklin Jameson, editor (New York, 1923)

-  “Journals of the House of Commons” Vol. 13 (London, 1547-)

-  “Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York” (Albany, 1856)

-  High Court of Admiralty - Lawsuits (HCA 24/127) #110 prosecution witness Bradinham

- Brooks, Graham ed. Trial of Captain Kidd (London, 1930). Court transcript; British establishment view.

The counter argument to the Second Trial and Sentence: for the Piracy and Robbery on a ship called The Quedagh Merchant & the Fourth Trial and Sentence: for the

Piracy and Robbery on a ship called The Maiden/Rouparelle

Kidd presented the French passes he took from both ships to Lord Bellamont when he returned to New York from his commission at sea. These passes were proof that the ships were legally captured under the commission he was granted. In a letter from Bellamont, he noted, “Mr. Emot [Kidd’s lawyer] delivered me that Night Two French Passes, which Kidd took on board the Two Moors Ships which were taken by him in the seas of India.” Lord Bellomont then later sent a packet of documents for Kidd’s trial to England. Among this packet was a, “Copy of a French pass taken by Kidd on board the Moorish ship the Rouparelle,” and “Copy of a French pass… taken by Kidd on board the Moorish ship the Cara Merchant.” These passes were not shown during the trial despite Kidd requesting them several times before testifying to the court. They were later discovered misfiled over 100 years later. These passes can be seen today in the Public Record Office in London. If the passes had been presented to the jury during Kidd’s trial, this would have proven that his captures were legal - as the ships had French passes and his commission from the King included the clearance to capture French ships. 

Sources to counter the Second and Fourth Trial and Sentence

- High Court of Admiralty - (HCA 1/15) King William III’s Letter of Marque granting Captain Kidd a privateering commission

- Copy of Bellomont’s Letter, along with the Two French Passes (26 July 1699), "Privateering & Piracy in the Colonial Period Illustrative Documents (1970) ed. by J. Franklin Jameson p224-231

- Narcissus Luttrell’s Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs

(5 Sept. 1699.) The surrender of Kidd to Lord Bellamont - Vol. IV, p. 551, Vol. IV, p. 557

- The Real Captain Kidd by Sir Cornelius Neale Dalton

Record of Captain Kidd’s Trial, discussing the French Passes from Mr. Lemmon - p. 13

The counter argument to the Third Trial and Sentence: for the Piracy and

Robbery on a ship called Mary

Between August and September of 1697, the ship, Mary, was attacked by John Walker, William Moore, and many other crewmen, while Kidd and the Mary’s Captain Parker were occupied in Kidd’s cabin. Goods were stolen by the crewmen, while monks and men from the Mary were beaten and assaulted. When Kidd found out about this, he was furious and forced his crew to return the goods to the ship. The monks who reported this act of ‘piracy’ under oath stated Kidd returned “two compasses, six musquets, & four Bales of Coffee.” Eye witnesses also claimed Captain Parker willingly joined Kidd and left the Mary on his own accord. The acts of robbery and violence were perpetrated by the rogue crew, and not done under Kidd’s command. Additionally, the ship was not taken, but parted ways from the Adventure Galley the next day. Kidd did not commit robbery or piracy regarding the ship named Mary.

Sources to counter the Third Trial and Sentence

- The British Library: Reports from East India Company factors are in IOR E/3/52, E/3/53, E/3/54. Best: 6439 Kidd’s note; 6444 Monks describe Kidd encounter

- Yale University (New Haven, CT)
- Durbar Hinrichs donated microfilm of many key Kidd documents found in the PRO as well as photocopies of Max Lekus’s translations from Royal Danish Archive material.

bottom of page