Auch2000 Logo

The Kidd Family
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Meaning of the Name Kidd:

The name has been spelled Kid, Kidd, Kyd, and Kydd from the Old English Cydd(a) or Cydd(i).

Kidd is an old Angus surname in both Dundee and Arbroath, in Forfarshire, Scotland. The first recorded was Robert Kidd of Dundee in 1357 (Black). Sande Kid and Thoma Kyd appeared at an inquest at Forfar in 1450. John and Nychol Kyd appear in Brechin in 1450. Christiane Kydde owned land at Longforgan in the 1470's. Alexander Kyd was in Aberdeen in the 1470's.

Kidd means "dweller at the sign of the young goat." It can also be a pet form of Christopher (Smith, 27). Alexander Kyd held land in Aberdeen in 1492 and a William Kyd was in Alloa in 1571.

The Kidd Arms:

Kidd is a Scottish arms with a crescent, argent. Their motto is Donec impleat or "until it fill." A second motto is: Donec impleat orbem or "until it fill the word." A crescent is often used to denote a second son, of a particular family.

The most famous Kidd was Captain William "Robert" Kidd:

William Kidd's Portrait

Captain Kidd, the Pirate:

Captain William "Robert" Kidd (c. 1645-1701) called himself "Robert." He was born in Greenock, meaning "green oak." Greenock, Renfewshire, Scotland, was a seaport, on the Firth of Clyde. Another article says that Greennock cames from Graen-ug meaning "a sandy place" or Grian-uig meaning "sunny bay." A Hugh de Grenok was recorded in the Ragman Roll as a Scottish baron, who came to the port in 1296, under Edward I. Greenock is a presbytery in the synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The noble families of Cathcart were Barons of Greenock in 1807. They descended from Sir John Shaw of Greenock, who died in 1752.

Greenock was known for its shipbuilding before 1840, and 6,000-7,000 tons of shipping vessels were launched annually. Greenock was a good port, and it was sheltered by the surrounding mountains. Is it any wonder that William Kidd chose sailing as his career?

William was the son of a minister. He was a sea captain who traded in the West Indies. He ended up a privateer in 1689, and his job was to catch other pirates, namely Captain Thomas Tew, John Ireland, Thomas Wake, and Milliam Mze/Mace. On April 10, 1696, he sailed the Adventure Galley.

It was thought that Kidd may have emigrated to America in his early twenties.

On January 30, 1698, they came across the Quedah Merchant, Moorish ship, who's cargo was silk, calico, sugar, opium, and iron. The ship was in Bengal, and its captain was John Wright. The Quedah Merchant was owned by an Armenian and its cargo was to be shipped to a senior official at the court of the Mogul of India. Of course the British owned the East Indian Company, and were trying to keep India as friends for their commerce. This might be one reason why the government decided to punish Robert Kidd? Robert sold the goods from the Quedah Merchant, in Caliquilon for 7,000 pounds. Some thought that some of the booty of the ship was buried somewhere, and that the original booty was worth 70,000 pounds (ten times the amount that Kidd received). Since Kidd was not considered a stupid man, the rumor was that he had kept the rest for himself and his family.

The Adventure Galley

It was said that his men wanted the money since they had, up to then, had very little monetary rewards for their work, on the high seas, for England. Apparently, they were not to be paid until after their voyage? Their purpose was to capture the aforementioned pirates, which was not accomplished. Next they looted a Portuguese ship. Robert then took the Quedah Merchant and renamed her the Adventure Prize. It was said that the original Blessed William was a bit worse for wear, and not sea-worthy. So to get home they had to use another ship. Robert's men were not happy with the way things turned out and they tried to go against Kidd. In an attack directed at Kidd, from one of his crew, Kidd grabbed a wooden bucket, in defense of his own person, and hit the attacker on the head, which resulted in his death. This was not a pre-meditated act of murder, but self defense.

By the time Kidd was in Hispaniola, he discovered that he was now considered to be a pirate.

Home of William Kidd

Kidd's brick house at the corner of Pearl and Hanover streets
in Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.
He inherited propery at 119-121 Pearl Street,
52-56 Water Street, and 25-29 Pine street
from his wife.

Kidd was arrested upon his return to New York by the former sponsor of his enterprise, Governor Lord Bellomont. He was taken back to England and put in the notorious Newgate prison in London, to await his trial. The trial was held on 8th and 9th of May, 1701. Later on William "Robert" Kidd would be accused of murdering ALL his crew. He said they mutinied. The trial, most thought, was rigged as he never murdered his crewman as charged. Robert was found guilty at Old Bailey, London, England. However, Robert was hanged on the 23rd of May 1701, at Tilbury Point (Execution Dock). "Following tradition the crowds passed him rum and Kidd was blind drunk when he swung from the gallows" (Spence).

Captain Kidd's Farewell to the Seas:

My name was Captain Kidd, when I sail'd, when I sail'd,
And so wickedly I did, God's laws I did forbid,
When I sail'd, when I sail'd.
I roam'd from sound to sound, And many a ship I found
And them I sunk or burn'd. When I sail'd.
I murder'd William Moore, And laid him in his gore,
Not many leagues from shore, When I sail'd.
Farewell to young and old, All jolly seamen bold,
You're welcome to my gold, For I must die, I must die.
Farewell to Lunnon town, The pretty girls all round,
No pardon can be found, and I must die, I must die,
Farewell, for I must die. Then to eternity, in hideous misery,
I must lie, I must lie.



Arraignment, Tryal, and Condemnation


Captain William Kidd





Upon Six federal Indictments

At the Admiraltry-Session, held by His Majesty's Com-
mission at Old Bailey on Thursday the 8th and on Friday the 9th
of May 1701, who, upon full Evidence, was found Guilty,
received Sentence, and was accordingly executed at Execution
Dock, May 23rd.


The Tryals of Nicholas Churchill, James Howe, Robert
Lemly, William Jenkins, Gabriel Lass, Hugh Parrot, Richard Berlicon,
Abel Owens, Duke Mullins, at the time and place for piracy.

Perused by the Judges and Council

To which are added,
Captain Kidd's Two Commissions:
One under the Great Seal of ENGLAND, and the OTHER under
the Great Seal of the Admiralty

It was said that Kidd died hard, as the rope broke from his weight and fell to the ground. He was tied up a second time. re-hung, and died. This is why there is a legend of Robert Kidd being hung twice. After he was dead, his body was put in a harness of iron hoops (a gibbet) and chains so that all mariners could observe his rotting, crow-pecked corpse for more than an hour, as they swept around that wide and desolute part of the Thames." This no doubt was a warning to other seamen regarding what happens to pirates. Robert was tarred so as to hold the skelton together longer, thus his body was totally blackened. His family could not give him a proper burial.

Before his pirate days, William "Robert" Kidd settled in America and married a wealthy widow named Sarah Bradley Cox Oort, on May 16, 1691, in New York. This was Sarah's third marriage, even though she was still in her early 20's. On his marriage license he was named "William Kidd, Gentleman." Apparently, William Kidd was already a wealthy and respected man. He had no real need to take on the privateering commission, in 1696. Kidd amassed a considerable fortune and he buried at least some of his treasure on tiny Gardiner's Island, off the New York coast.

A rocky place on Long Island, called "Kidd's Ledge" has been the site of many treasure hunters who thought that perhaps he buried the missing treasures near his family. However, no treasure has as yet been found there. The last time Kidd, his wife, and two daughters were reunited was in Boston. This was on July 2, 1699, and they rented rooms in a boarding house. One July 5, 1699, Captain William "Robert" Kidd was arrested. A search was made for his treasure. Three weeks after his arrest an inventory of his recovered booty was:

*1,111 ounces of gold
*2,353 ounces of silver
*41 bales of merchandise.

All these items were shipped to the Treasury in England. This was valued at $6,472 English pounds. Kidd was in Newgate Prison for over a year. By May 1700, he was riddled with ailments. He tried to buy his way to freedom with promises of 'fifty or three score thousand pounds' hidden in the Caribbean. While in prison, Kidd was only allowed to have his elderly uncle and aunt visit him. He was not allowed to write letters to his wife or discuss his case with anyone to prepare his defense. William Kidd had been in prison two years by the time he appeared in court.


  1. The French East India Company pass was not given back to Kidd. It disappeared before his trial. This pass would have proved that he was acting as a privateer, not a pirate. This document was found 219 years later in the British Public Records Office.

  2. The Admiralty had appropriated 50 English pounds for Kidd's defense. They money, like the French passes, was lost until the night of May 7th. His legal advisors would not work without the money up front.

  3. After waiting two years for his trial, he was only allowed one brief consultation with his lawyers on the morning before the trial began.

    His trial was before six justices and there were four separate trials for six indictments on May 8th and 9th, 1701.

  4. Kidd could not be a witness for his own defense.

  5. His crew was not allowed to testify on his behalf.

  6. Only deserters Palmer and Bradinham could speak to the court.

  7. His lawyer was not allowed to cross-exam them.

  8. His first indictment was for the murder of William Moore, which in today's court would have been considered self-defense, rather than premeditated murder.

  9. After less than one-half hour, the jury returned a "guilty" verdict for Kidd and his six crewmen. Three crewmen were acquitted.

  10. When the court asked if Kidd had anything to say to the court, he said' "I have nothing to say, but that I have been sword against by perjured and wicked people."

  11. Kidd was hung twice before his death. This was because the rope broke the first time.

  12. Five of six crewman escaped punishment, in the end. Nicholas Churchill and James Hous paid the Newgate jailer 315 British pounds each for their release, after the trial. They were rumored to have dug up 2,300 pounds worth of Arabian gold that they had buried while in the company of their captain.

For two years after his death, his family lived in seclusion in New York. After 18 months, his wife married for the fourth time and bore more children to her last husband.

Lord Bellomont who captured Kidd, died three months after Kidd.

Another legend said that Kidd buried his Bible, before he decided to enter the world of piracy. This gesture was a symbol of the loss of his godly ways.

After his death, Kidd's estate was forfeited to the English Crown. Queen Anne put the 6,472 pounds towards the building of a new hospital in Greenwich. This hospital was "for relief and support of Seamen serving on board the Shipps or vessells belonging to the Navy Royall"(Spence).


My own relative may or may not relate to this infamous pirate.


Margaret Kidd (Ked) married Robert Malcolm (Robert Malcome) of Fifeshire, Scotland, on October 13, 1694, in Ceres, Fifeshire, Scotland. Their son John Malcolm was christened on September 8, 1695, in Ceres, Fife. The census showns John being born September 1695.


Captain William "Robert" Kidd


Botting, Douglas and the editors of Time-Life books. The Pirates. One book in the Seafarers series, Time-Life Books, 1978.

Cordingly, David. Under the Black Flag. New York: Harvest Books, 1995.

Ellms, Charles. The Pirates Own Book New York: Book-of-the-Month Club, 2002 (reprint of the 1837 edition).

Farman, John. The Short and Bloody History of Knights, Spies, and Pirates. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2000.


Gibson, David. Clans and Families of Scotland. Edison, N.J.: Chartwell Books, 1991.

Shaw, Carol P. Famous Scots. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, 718.

Smith, Eldon C. New Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Gramercy Publishing Company, 1988.

Spence, David. Pirates: A Short History of the Sea-Robbers and Adventurers Who Roamed Upon the World's Seas. UK: Snapping Turtle Guide, in Association with the National Maritime Museum, 1995, 26-27.

You are the visitor since March 1, 2005

Back to the Scottish Table of Contents

Webmaster: Margaret Sypniewska
Owner: Raymond Sypniewski, B.S., M.A.
Email Margaret: Margaret
This page was last updated on April 2, 2014

This page is hosted by