- Justice »
Pirates Execution Dock
The Pirates Execution Dock where Captain Kidd was drowned.
From the 15 to the 19 centuries this site was used for the execution of pirates.
Those convicted of piracy were brought from Marshalsea Prison in Southwark, across London Bridge, and past the Tower to Execution Dock. The procession was led on horseback by the Admiralty Marshal or his deputy carrying a silver oar representing the authority of the Admiralty which had jurisdiction over crimes on the sea (offenses on land were the responsibility of the civil courts).
With the church of St. Mary in the background and a crowd assembled on land or on boats moored in the river, he was given the same opportunity of a last dying speech.
After being turned off, the tide would rise and submerge the body. The custom held that three tides would wash over it before it was taken away. After the hanging, the more notorious pirates were covered with tar and suspended on a gibbet or in irons along the Thames at Graves Point to warn sailors on ingoing and outgoing ships the price of mutiny and piracy.
The most famous pirate to be executed here was Captain William Kidd on 23rd May 1701. Execution Dock's last victims were executed for murder and mutiny in 1830.
From the river Execution Dock is marked with a large letter 'E' on the building at the site of Swan Wharf.
Execution Dock is located near Wapping Old Stairs which can be reached by following the cobbled alleyway alongside the Town of Ramsgate pub.