John Gardiner may have been tending his fields when he noticed the schooner. Seeing it a second day, Lord John went to investigate. Kidd invited him aboard and asked him to keep three young slaves in his care until Kidd could return for them. Lord John agreed. The following day, at Kidd’s request, he returned with various supplies for which Kidd gave him a piece of gold cloth in appreciation. Kidd then left for Block Island. He was told a pardon was possible and he was to go forthwith to Boston to face Bellomont, now Governor of New York. But before leaving for Boston, he returned to Gardiner’s Island whereupon he left chests with 100£ of gold and silver and valuable spices and fine cloth in Lord John’s safekeeping. He warned Lord John that his bounty better be there when he came for them. Only then did he set sail to clear his name.
Once in Boston, days of council meetings with the Governor and other loyal representatives resulted in Kidd’s arrest. Kidd tucked away in jail, Bellomont wrote to John Gardiner requesting return of the treasure. Gardiner, who said he didn’t know that Kidd was a pirate, dutifully complied and sailed to Boston with the treasure which he delivered to Bellomont and the council. It was eventually decided Kidd be returned to England. The once wealthy, respected Captain was then confined with other criminals to the deplorable conditions of Newgate Prison.
Throughout the trial Kidd declared his innocence and restated his defense that he was forced to piracy by his mutinous crew. Nonetheless, a guilty verdict was rendered for the murder of William Moore and five acts of piracy. In 1701 he was carted through London to Execution Dock whereby he was hung and later tarred and strung up as a warning to would-be pirates. It is said he hung over the Thames until there was nothing left of him.
Today one can see the exact spot where John Gardiner hid Kidd’s treasure memorialized by a small stone marker in Cherry Harbor. The remaining remnant of gold cloth that he was given can be seen in the East Hampton Library. We owe Lion Gardiner and all of his descendants a debt of gratitude. It is of utmost importance to preserve our woods and safeguard our wildlife and Gardiner’s Island is as pristine today as it was centuries ago. The3300 acresof land are protected and unspoiled, with verdant woods of oaks and maples, and a covert landscape which gives refuge to a variety of life, including the largest colony of ospreys in North America.
Legends are an integral part of human nature and Captain Kidd has served us well. There is no pirate that has captured our imaginations more. Though we may need our legends, we need our heroes even more. In this regard, the Gardiners of Gardiner’s Island have done us proud.
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