Close to what was once Execution Dock, along the Thames from the City of London, stands a public house dedicated to one the most famous and fearsome pirates of his time, Captain William Kidd, a man who many say suffered an almighty miscarriage of justice.
In 1702, Kidd, a seafaring Scotsman who later settled in Boston, was charged with murder and five counts of piracy and was hanged in chains by the River Thames. His body was then left hanging in the sun and the surf for three tides (days and nights) so that the tidal river could completely submerge his cadaver. Then, as a gruesome warning to other would be pirates and plunderers, Kidd’s rotting corpse was left on display further along the Thames for the next 3 years.
In Kidd’s defence, his murder charge involved a shipmate who was hit over the head with a metal bucket. And those charges of piracy? Well, Kidd set sail as a legitimate trader and keeper of the peace in the Atlantic and Caribbean with orders from politicians, landed gentry and royalty to hunt pirates. It was agreed that Kidd would not be paid for his efforts but could keep the profits of his plundering.
Let’s just say that his background recruitment checks were a little lax and perhaps his crew were not all saintly seafarers. What’s a Kidd to do eh?
Mutiny, betrayal and skulduggery ensued before Kidd was sent to London to stand trial. Despite requests for clemency from the man many believe originally gave Kidd his orders, King William III (aka William of Orange), his pleas fell on deaf ears and Kidd was sentenced to death and was duly hanged at Execution Dock in front of a crowd of Londoners baying for buccaneer blood.
Today, a Sam Smith’s pub stands in his honour close to the point by the Thames where he met his maker at Execution Dock. There are low ceilings, small cosy booths and bountiful food options available at very reasonable prices.
The Captain Kidd will gladly sell you a pint of their own India Pale Ale for far less than a fiver. As pub prices in London go, that’s hardly piracy and the views from the beer terrace across the river make it a treasure well worth hanging around for.
Captain Kidd, 108 Wapping High St, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London E1W 2NE