Saturday Reader: Scottish Pirate Captain Kidd’s Treasure Found

The 50-kilogram silver bar which was allegedly recovered in the wreck of William Kidd's ship. Photo: AFP/ManjakaTsiresena

The 50-kilogram silver bar which was allegedly recovered in the wreck of William Kidd’s ship.
Photo: AFP/ManjakaTsiresena

A team of American explorers say they have discovered silver treasure from the infamous 17th-century Scottish pirate William Kidd in a shipwreck off the coast of Madagascar.

Marine archaeologist Barry Clifford told reporters he had found a 50 kilogram silver bar in the wreck of Kidd’s ship the Adventure Gallery, close to the small island of Sainte Marie.

Captain Kidd, who was born in Scotland in about 1645, was first employed by British authorities to hunt pirates, but he turned himself into a ruthless criminal of the high seas.

After looting a treasure-laden ship in 1698, he was caught, imprisoned and questioned in front of the British parliament before being executed in Wapping, close to the River Thames in 1701. The fate of much of his booty, however, has remained a mystery, sparking intrigue and excitement for generations of treasure-hunters.

Clifford, who was filmed by a documentary crew lifting the silver bar off the sea bed, handed it over to Malagasy president Hery Rajaonarimampianina on Sainte Marie. Soldiers guarded the apparent treasure at the ceremony, which was attended by the US and British ambassadors.

“We discovered 13 ships in the bay. We’ve been working on two of them over the last 10 weeks.One of them is the Fire Dragon, the other is Captain Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Galley.”

– Barry Clifford

Independent archaeologist John de Bry, who attended the ceremony, said the shipwreck and silver bar were “irrefutable proof that this is indeed the treasure of the Adventure Galley”.

Robert Yamate, US ambassador to Madagascar, said the discovery was a boost for the country.

“This is a fantastic find that shows the hidden story of Madagascar. This is great for tourism … and it is just as important as historical preservation.” he said.

Captain Kidd portrayed impressing women in New York Harbor. Photo: Wikimedia

Captain Kidd portrayed impressing women in New York Harbor.
Photo: Wikimedia

Who was Captain Kidd?

Born William Kidd in Dundee, Scotland, he followed in his father’s footsteps as a seaman.

Kidd became a respected privateer, commissioned to protect English ships in the Carribean in the war against France. Captain Kidd was hired to pirate the Quedagh Merchant, a 500-ton Armenian ship, a treasure trove of gold, silk, spices and other riches.

He was caught and shipped back to England for trial, where his connections with the English elite and government officials caused a sensation. After his execution, as a warning to other pirates, his body was hung in a cage and left to rot for all to see along the River Thames.

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Monday Reader: Reburial of King Richard III

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A memorable was held Sunday morning marking the beginning of the final journey of the mortal remains of King Richard III.

King Richard III’s remains have arrived at Leicester Cathedral ahead of his reburial. His funeral cortege entered the city at the historic Bow Bridge after touring landmarks in the county. Cannons were fired in a salute to the king at Bosworth, where he died in 1485.

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His coffin was on public view at the cathedral beginning at 09:00 GMT Monday. He will finally be reinterred during a ceremony on Thursday.

Richard’s skeleton was found in 2012, in an old friary beneath a car park.

The former king’s coffin, which is made of English oak from a Duchy of Cornwall plantation, emerged during a ceremony at the University of Leicester.

Archaeologists, academics, researchers and descendants of Richard III’s family, including Michael Ibsen who built the coffin, placed white roses on it during the ceremony.

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The reburial procession began at Fenn Lane Farm, believed to be the closest spot to where the king was killed. Ceremonies were held for the king as his cortege travelled through the county, including those at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Bow Bridge.

Ahead of the cortege arriving in Leicester, city mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It was from Leicester in 1485 that Richard rode out to battle and it was to Leicester that he returned, defeated, slung ignominiously across the back of a horse.

“It’s now our opportunity to put it right and to make sure this time that it’s done with dignity and honour.”

However, campaigners who petitioned for Richard III to be reburied in York have described the events in Leicester as a “pantomime”.

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After a service at St Nicholas Church, the coffin was transferred to a horse-drawn hearse before arriving at the cathedral via High Street and Grey Friars. The public will be able to view the coffin at the cathedral from today (Monday) to Wednesday before a reinterment service on Thursday.

A spokesman for Leicester Cathedral has confirmed that the Queen has written a greeting that will appear in the order of service at the reinterment but details of the message’s content will not be released ahead of the event.

The former king’s skeleton was sealed inside a lead-lined inner casket known as an ossuary earlier last week.

Soil from the village where Richard III was born will be placed alongside his remains when he is reburied.

The last Plantagenet king was born at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, and members of his family were buried at the local parish church. Soil from the castle grounds and two other sites will be laid around his coffin by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on 26 March.

Site owner John Gould said he was “delighted” to have been involved.

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Soil from the castle, a Yorkist palace during the 15th Century, is one of three samples from sites significant in the former king’s life to be sprinkled inside the vault where his coffin will be placed.

Samples from Middleham in Yorkshire, where Richard met future wife Anne, and the site of the Battle of Bosworth, have also been collected.

Some of the soil will be blessed by Bishop of Leicester Tim Stevens at a private ceremony on Sunday and will be put into a wooden casket to be displayed at the Battle of Bosworth Field Centre.

Additional Photos:

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Photo courtesy of  University of Leicester.

Photo courtesy of
University of Leicester.

On the Web:

King Richard III Gets a Spinal Exam and a New Grave

Saturday Reader: King Richard’s DNA Analysis Raises Questions on Royal Lineage

Friday Reader: Richard III and the Mystery Woman

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Sunday Reader: Jack the Ripper Identity Solved Through DNA

An illustration of the elusive ‘Jack the Ripper’ in the Oct. 13, 1888 edition of the ‘Illustrated London News’ entitled ‘With the Vigilance Committee in the East End: A Suspicious Character.’ (Source: Illustrated London News/Wikimedia Commons)

An illustration of the elusive ‘Jack the Ripper’ in the Oct. 13, 1888 edition of the ‘Illustrated London News’ entitled ‘With the Vigilance Committee in the East End: A Suspicious Character.’ (Source: Illustrated London News/Wikimedia Commons)

The mystery is over. The most infamous serial killer in history has been unmasked, 126 years later. 

A university professor claims to have identified the person known only by his haunting nickname – “Jack the Ripper.”

A 126-year-old DNA sample left on a piece of clothing allegedly belonging to Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes is linked to Aaron Kosminski, a hairdresser of Polish Jewish descent who emigrated from Eastern Europe to London in 1881.

A man named Russell Edwards purchased the shawl in 2007 at a Bury St. Edmunds auction house. His curiosity about the shawl’s history fueled his amateur sleuthing, and led him to Dr. Jari Louhelainen, senior lecturer in molecular biology and associate professor of biochemistry at Liverpool John Moores University.

Although the DNA evidence has not been independently verified, DNA samples compared to a living relative of Eddowes and extracted male bodily fluids from the shawl made a “99.2 percent match” to Kosminski in tests completed by Louhelainen, reports say.

“Now that it’s over, I’m excited and proud of what we’ve achieved, and satisfied that we have established – as far as we possibly can – that Aaron Kosminski is the culprit,” Edwards said in his book Naming Jack the Ripper, which will be published on Sept. 9th.

Killing sports ... this map of Whitechapel in the 1800s shows Flower and Dean Streets in purple and the sites of some killings as red spots.

Killing spots … this map of Whitechapel in the 1800s shows Flower and Dean Streets in purple and the sites of some killings as red spots.

There are five “canonical’ murder victims connected to “Jack the Ripper,” but 11 victims are linked to the infamous killer. Most of the murders took place in the fall of 1888 in the poor Whitechapel neighborhood of London’s East End. The victims were either poor women or prostitutes.

The nickname came from newspapers that reported  the brutality of the murders: the women were assaulted, then maimed before their throats were slit. Three of the victims had organs removed, which lead to claims that the suspect had medical experience.

Kosminski, who has consistently been linked to the true identity of “Jack the Ripper,” was committed to an asylum in 1891, at the height of Ripper hysteria. Kosminski remained in and out of mental institutions, and died at Leavesden Asylum in 1919.

The last victim of “Jack the Ripper” was killed in February 1891.

He is one of  the six most discussed potential “Ripper” suspects batted around by “Ripperologists,” amateurs and historians alike who study the murders.

A video that goes more in depth on the history of “Jack the Ripper” can be seen by clicking here.

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