Born 22 November 1804 at Welton, near Kingston upon Hull, he was educated at the village school there. In 1818 he was sent to Hull, where he was drawn towards a missionary career, and in 1820 he entered the London Missionary Society's training college at Gosport.
At the end of April 1824 Kidd sailed for the London Missionary Society to Madras, and on to Malacca, where he arrived in November. He took up the Hokkien dialect of Chinese under the Rev. David Collie. In the course of 1826 he published short tracts in Chinese, and the following year was appointed professor of Chinese in the Anglo-Chinese College of Malacca. From this time he took an active part in missionary work, preaching and writing.
In 1829 Kidd's wife returned to England on account of her health, and three years later attacks of epilepsy compelled Kidd himself to go back. In 1833 he was appointed pastor of a church at Manningtree in Essex.
In 1837 Kidd was appointed professor of Chinese at University College, London, for a term of five years. The appointment was not renewed at the end of that term, and Kidd died suddenly on 12 June 1843, at his residence in Camden Town.
As well as short works in Chinese, Kidd was the author of:
- "Critical Notices of Dr. Robert Morrison's Literary Labours" in Memoir of Morrison, 1838, ii. 1–87;
- inaugural lecture at University College on the Chinese language, 1838;
- a catalogue of the Chinese library at the Royal Asiatic Society; and
- China, or Illustrations of the Philosophy, Government, and Literature of the Chinese, London, 1841.
In April 1824 Kidd married Hannah, second daughter of William Irving of Hull.