In the late summer of 1698 – according to tradition and scattered evidence available – the barkentine that served as flagship for the notorious Captain William Kidd of Greenock, Scotland, anchored near the mouth of Brigantine Inlet. Kidd and his first mate, Timothy Jones, accompanied by several of his crew came ashore in a long boat, on the bottom of which rested a heavy leather and brass-bound sea chest. This chest was buried among the dunes. The men were sent back to the ship and, according to the story, the chest was dug up by Captain Kidd and his mate and reburied at a new spot… To this day that final burial place has remained hidden and elusive to all. The story also relates that, following the second burial, a fight ensued between Mate Jones and Captain Kidd during which Jones was killed and buried beside the chest of loot. Captain Kidd then sailed away to further adventures.
A more romantic story concerning the famed pirate captain is that he became enamored with an Ocean County lass known only as Amanda. She persuaded Captain Kidd to abandon his uncertain, although colorful, career and settle in the wilds of South Jersey. In preparation for this move he decided to divide much of available loot with the crew and bury the rest on Brigantine. His ship was anchored in the mouth of the Mullica River when he was betrayed by a dissatisfied crew member and had to make a run for it out to sea. Captain Kidd made good his escape, but was captured in the vicinity of Boston in late 1699 and sent to England for trial. Charged with piracy and murder, Captain Kidd was found guilty and hanged in London on May 24, 1701, protesting his innocence to the last. If these additional buried treasures actually existed, Amanda and her captain kept their final resting place an external secret. The cache has never been found.
Another visitor of Brigantine’s pirate days was the legendary Captain Teech, better known as Blackbeard. When things became too dangerous in the Caribbean, he sailed up the coast to the Little Egg Harbor, making one of the small islands to the back of Brigantine his headquarters. It was while there that the British sought his capture, but he escaped by sinking himself in the waters of the meadows, breathing through a thin reed until the searchers had passed. He immediately departed the coast and was finally on the Spanish Main.
Captain Kidd burying his treasure, an illustration by Howard Pyle.
Information courtesy of “The Annals of Brigantine” by Paul C. Burgess.