“Some thousands they will flock when we die, when we die" - Captain William Kidd

1701, Captain William Kidd was hanged at Execution Dock in Wapping, London, for murder and piracy.

“Some thousands they will flock when we die, when we die, / Some thousands they will flock when we die, / Some thousands they will flock / To Execution Dock, / Where we must stand the shock and must die.” ("Captain Kid's Farewell to the Seas, or, the Famous Pirate's Lament", printed in London 1701)

Howard Pyle’s fanciful illustration of William "Captain" Kidd
 overseeing the burial of his fabled treasure (1911)
from “Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates:
Fiction, Fact & Fancy Concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners
of the Spanish Main” (1921

Between 1513 and 1737, the Armenian capital of Yerevan changed hands 14 times and the actual Kingdom of Armenia had ceased to exist in 1375. Nonetheless, the good ship “Quedagh Merchant” ran under an Armenian flag, whatever that was in 1698, owned by an Indian, operated out of Surat under the protection of the French East India Company, the Armenian merchants who chartered the 350-ton ship were represented by an agent of the Honourable East India Company, the vessel was captained by an English skipper with an Asian crew and a French plenipotentiary who started negotiating when the privateer “Adventure Galley”, Captain William Kidd, out of Deptford, came alongside. Thus, in terms of maritime law, things were as confused as the boarding of a banana freighter sailing out of Singapore under Panamanian colours with a shipload of Chinese missiles bound for a crisis region. In case of the “Quedagh Merchant” it was luxury goods and Captain Kidd decided to board her as a legitimate prize of war.

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863 - 1930): "Captain Kidd in New York Harbor" (1920)

Captain Kidd’s privateering cruise during the Nine Years’ War was ill-fated from its beginning in 1695. Tasked by the governor of colonial New York, the Whig Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, to harass enemy French shipping, most of his hand-picked crew was pressed into service in the regular Navy already in the Thames, he had to replace them with the dregs of colonial society in New York and was threatened with mutiny when no ships to capture turned up in his hunting grounds in the Indian Ocean – privateersmen did not receive regular pay but a share of the prize money and loot they had captured. The capture of the “Quedagh Merchant” and the sale of her cargo in Cochin in Southwest India seemed to solve Kidd’s problems at once, but he got cold feet already on his return trip into the Atlantic – was the Indo-Armenian ship a legitimate prize of war or was her capture an act of piracy against friendly nations and the East India Company? Kidd was uncertain himself, hid the fabulous amount realised from selling “Quedagh Merchant’s” goods, the bulk of Kidd’s famous treasure, somewhere between the Indian Ocean and the Americas and changed ship thrice until he returned to New York and was immediately imprisoned by Governor Coote for piracy.

Hanging in chains at Execution Dock -
the end of Captain Kidd, as imagined in Charles Ellms
"The Pirates' Own Book" (1837)

1700, Kidd was committed back home to England where the Whig Junto was succeeded by a Tory government and the former privateer captain, once commissioned by a Whig, was not well-liked at all anymore, became the only pirate who was questioned by parliament and while his former supporters withdrew, his case degenerated into a show trial. He was sentenced to death, for murder and piracy and was brought to Execution Dock in Wapping, hanged, the rope broke and Kidd was strung up again, this time for good, and swung in a gibbet over the Thames at Tilbury Point as a warning example to other would-be pirates. His tale and that of his fabled treasure, once taken from the quasi-Armenian merchantman, began to carry away writers and readers of adventure fiction as well as treasure hunters and the stories based on Kidd’s treasure became true classics, from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Gold-Bug" and Washington Irving's The Devil and Tom Walker to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

And more on:


And the complete lyrics of the song quoted above can be found on: