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Scottish Pirates

WILLIAM KIDD

 

CAPTAIN Kidd is probably the most infamous Scottish pirate of them all.

 

Born in Greenock in 1645, Kidd initially won favour with the British establishment when he began targeting French ships, then the enemy.

 

But his crew couldn't be bothered trying to please the King when they could be plundering, so they abandoned Kidd on an island.

 

He ended up in New York and wed a wealthy widow. It seemed he was rehabilitated - until he was recruited to capture pirates in the Indian Ocean. He set sail with a crew of vagabonds and the best of intentions. But he couldn't resist the temptation to indulge in a little piracy.

 

News of his plundering reached Britain and his powerful friends deserted him. An amnesty was declared on all pirates - except Captain Kidd. He was top of Britain's most wanted list.

 

He returned to plead his innocence but was tried at London's Old Bailey and convicted on two charges of piracy and one of murder.

 

He was hanged at Execution Dock in 1701 and, in true pirate fashion, was drunk on rum when led to the gallows.

 

Treasure hunters are still convinced some of his gold remains buried somewhere.

 

Hewitson said: "Who knows what Kidd would have become if he'd stayed in retirement in New York. He was a respected businessman. He could have become Governor.

 

"But he had salt water in his veins - a natural pirate. As soon as he went back to sea, he reverted to type.

 

JOHN PAUL JONES

 

THE young boy who grew up watching ships in the Solway Firth went on to become founder of the US Navy.

 

To the Americans, he was a flamboyant hero. To his fellow Brits, he was a ruthless and terrifying pirate.

 

Born in Kirkcudbright in 1747, the son of a gardener, he set sail for the Caribbean at 13.

 

By 17 he was involved in the lucrative slave trade but quickly became disgusted with it.

 

He turned instead to capturing the British merchant ships that travelled back and forth through the West Indies.

 

A strict disciplinarian, he was accused of flogging one of his crew to death His piracy achievements attracted attention in his adopted home of America and he was drawn into the battle for independence.

 

He led a make-shift armada of countless boats to defend the coastline from the Brits.

 

He even started attacking mainland Britain. Under the cover of darkness, he mounted daring raids on coastal towns, taking hostages and burning boats.

 

Jones was just 5ft 4ins but was a big hit with women and flew a US flag made from their underwear. He died in Paris aged 45.

 

Hewitson said: "America didn't have a navy until he came along and started organising things. "He learned his trade as a Caribbean pirate but he went much further than that.

 

ALEXANDER SELKIRK

 

BORN in Largo, Fife, in 1676, Selkirk set off to sea as a teenager - and went on to become the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.

 

He started life as a privateer - a legalised pirate - but his hot-head temperament meant he regularly clashed with officers.

 

While on a plundering mission in the Pacific, Selkirk fought with his seniors over the condition of the ship. He found himself being put ashore on a desert island, 400 miles off the coast of Chile.

 

He was stranded for four years and four months until being rescued by the Royal Navy.

 

When he finally returned to Scotland, after three more years at sea, his family were stunned by his "return from the dead".

 

But Selkirk couldn't settle and it is claimed he spent most of his time living in a cave before setting off to sea again. He died of yellow fever off the coast of West Africa in 1721.

 

Hewitson said: "Leaving people marooned on islands was a popular pirate punishment because the captain could not risk a rebellion starting aboard ship.

 

"Usually, they were left in places where other ships would be along pretty soon to pick them up.

 

"Selkirk was just a bit unfortunate that the island he was left on was so isolated and he could never settle into normal life again.

 

"Like so many other pirates, he had a longing for the sea that meant he just couldn't stay away.

 

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