Monday, May 23, 2011
History: "Jerked Into the Devil's Arms"
On May 23rd in 1701, a procession set out from Newgate Prison led by a deputy marshal of the Admiralty Court. Kidd was in the middle of the parade, chained on an open cart draped with black crepe, a noose already hanging from his neck. Through the good grace of his warden, Kidd was dead drunk. He would vomit more than once along the muddy road to Wapping.
At the shore of the Thames the gallows awaited. Kidd was “turned off” once and, after a moment, the rope from which he was hanging broke. He fell into the mud, was jerked back up and hanged a second time. Twice was the charm for Kidd, but he kicked for some minutes before finally succumbing to strangulation.
His body was cut down and chained to a post below the high water line. There, per Admiralty regulation, three tides washed over it. Once this had been accomplished, Kidd’s carcass was tarred and put in a metal cage. This was hung on a gibbet near the water at Tilbury Point where it stayed for a number of years as “… a greater Terrour to all Persons from committing ye like Crimes…”
Header: William Kidd’s body on the gibbet