> Waterson:Carthy > Songs > Captain Kidd

Captain Kidd

[ Roud 1900 ; Laws K35 ; Ballad Index LK35 ; Bodleian Roud 1900 ; trad.]

Thames barge skipper Bob Roberts sang Captain Kidd in 1960 on his Talking Book / Methuen EP Windy Old Weather. The album's booklet commented:

Captain Kidd was the last person to be hung at Execution Dock, Wapping on the Thames. He was sentenced for murder and piracy on the high seas on May 9, 1701 and was hung on May 23. A long ballad of about twenty verses probably appeared between these two dates of which only a few verses are still remembered by bargemen.

Jeff Warner sang Captain Kidd in 1973 on the National Geographic Society's album Songs & Sounds of the Sea.

Eliza Carthy sang Captain Kidd with Norma Waterson singing backing vocals in 2004 on Waterson:Carthy's fifth album, Fishes & Fine Yellow Sand. The album notes commented:

[…] Also repenting at length on the gallows (if we are to believe the song), we have Captain Kidd, hanged at Execution Dock in 1701, whose song sold well and spread far and wide. He started off straight and in the Royal Navy but having picked up all the tips in bad behaviour necessary for the job, moved into piracy—largely in what are now American waters. A pirate's life for me. People have always been fancied their chances of finding his supposed treasure which, according to that same supposition, is for certain buried in any one of a dozen locations. This according to Eloise Hubbard Linscott in her Folk Songs of Old New England.

Hughie Jones sang Captain Kidd on his 2014 Fellside CD, Maritime Miscellany.

False Lights sang Captain Kidd on their 2018 CD Harmonograph. They noted:

A classic broadside with a tune based on 159 Wondrous Love in The Sacred Harp, modified to reach the high notes. The real William Kidd was executed for piracy in 1701, aged 47. Some modern historians have argued that his piratical reputation was unfair, and was exaggerated by the ruling Tory party in order to embarrass the Whigs who had earlier backed him.

One well known story about the search for Captain Kidd's treasure is The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe.

Lyrics

Bob Roberts sings Captain Kidd

Oh, my name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, my name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed.
Oh, my name is William Kidd,
Many wicked things I did,
And the law I did forbid, as I sailed, as I sailed.

Oh, I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, I murdered William Moore, as I sailed.
Oh, I murdered William Moore
And I left him in his gore
Forty leagues from the shore, as I sailed, as I sailed.

So to Execution Dock I must go, I must go,
Oh to Execution Dock I must go,
So to Execution Dock,
Put my head upon the block
And no more the law I'll mock as I sail, as I sail.

Waterson:Carthy sing Captain Kidd

My name was William Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed,
My name was William Kidd, as I sailed.
My name was William Kidd, God's laws I did forbid,
And most wickedly I did, as I sailed, as I sailed,
And most viciously I did, as I sailed.

My parents taught me well, as I sailed, as I sailed,
My parents taught me well, as I sailed.
My parents taught me well to shun the gates of Hell.
Oh, against them I rebelled, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, against them I rebelled, as I sailed.

I sailed from sound to sound, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I sailed from sound to sound, as I sailed.
I sailed from sound to sound and many ships I found
And most of men I drowned, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, the most of men I drowned, as I sailed.

And I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I murdered William Moore, as I sailed.
I murdered William Moore and I left him in his gore,
Not many leagues from shore, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Not many leagues from shore, as I sailed.

I had ninety bars of gold, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I had ninety bars of gold, as I sailed.
I had ninety bars of gold and had dollars manifold,
With riches uncontrolled, as I sailed, as I sailed,
With riches uncontrolled, as I sailed.

I spied three ships from France, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I spied three ships from France, as I sailed.
I spied three ships from France and on them I advanced,
And I took them all by chance, as I sailed, as I sailed,
And I took them all by chance, as I sailed.

I spied three ships from Spain, as I sailed, as I sailed,
I spied three ships from Spain, as I sailed.
I spied three ships from Spain and I fired on them a-main,
And the most of them were slain, as I sailed, as I sailed,
And the most of them were slain, as I sailed.

Then fourteen ships I saw, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Then fourteen ships I saw, as I sailed.
Then fourteen ships I saw and braved them anywhere,
They were too much for me, as I sailed, as I sailed,
Oh, they were too much for me, as I sailed.

To Newgate I am cast, and must die, and must die,
To Newgate I am cast, and I must die.
To Newgate I am cast, in chains they bound me fast,
To receive my just desert, I must die, I must die,
To receive my just desert, oh I must die.

Take a warning now by me, for I must die, I must die,
Take a warning now by me, I must die.
Take a warning now by me, and shun bad company,
Lest you come to hell with me, for I must die, I must die,
Lest you come to hell with me, for I must die.