At first glance, it looks like any other ordinary town pond. In many ways, it is just that. However, according to legend, Learned Pond in Framingham, Massachusetts is where infamous 17th-century pirate William Kidd allegedly buried his treasure.
There are similar legends across North America of William Kidd leaving behind mysterious, yet-to-be-found buried treasures. One might wonder how a pirate who spent much of his career as a privateer for England in the Caribbean and around Africa hid treasure in the United States. Kidd himself was born in Scotland but settled in New York City not long after the English had taken it from the Dutch. During the War of the Grand Alliance, he began his life as a privateer off the New England coast and gradually expanded to more distant waters. By the 1690s, the colonial government had turned against him and he was arrested in Boston after false promises of clemency in 1699 and imprisoned in the Boston Gaol, also known as Stone Prison.
Although it’s highly unlikely Kidd ever visited the Framingham area, another pirate who was acquainted with Kidd most likely did. Joseph Brandish was born in the neighboring town of Sudbury and in 1698 was the leader of a mutiny on the ship Adventure off the coast of Borneo. He and his crew then sailed to Nassau Island, now Long Island, where they scuttled the ship and sold much of their loot. He then headed to Boston hoping to obtain a pardon under the 1698 Act of Grace, like Kidd, but was also captured and imprisoned in the same location. Several months after his capture, he along with several accomplices were able to escape with the help of his cousin who was a jailer. They were eventually recaptured near Saco, Maine and during his time on the run, it’s believed Brandish secreted some of his personal fortune across New England. Both Brandish and Kidd were shipped off to England where they were tried, convicted, hanged, and gibbeted.
Brandish hiding some of his treasure along with his association with Kidd from prison might explain the origin of the legend of Learned Pond. In 1897, renowned writer Clara Augusta Trask wrote the poem Kidd’s Chest of Gold - A Legend of Learned’s Pond and an excerpt reads, “Captain Kidd, who sailed and sailed, and spied three ships from Spain / Is watching still his treasures hid on land and on the main, / And if you break the magic spell laid on this chest of gold / The pirate’s ghost will drag you down in Learned’s waters cold.”
Whether Learned Pond in Framingham might be where Brandish or Kidd stashed some of their wealth is uncertain, but if you’re ever interested in searching for long-lost pirate treasure, Learned Pond is certainly worth a visit.
Know Before You Go
There is parking near the entrance along with several small trails you can walk along the pond.