Captain Robert Culliford

 
Culliford, Robert – From East Looe, Cornwall, England (?). Born 1664. Aka Cutlass Culliford. In 1690 with the help of other members of the crew stole >  Kidd’s Blessed William from him after having attacked, looted and burned the island of Mariegalante in the West Indies. Leaders of this mutiny were William > May (Mason), > Burgess and Culliford. May was elected captain. Captured a couple of Spanish vessels, raided and pillaged the odd town for supplies and booty. Arrived at New York May 1690. Took prize ship Jacob to the Indian Ocean in December of that year, cruising off the coasts of India. Ran into arguments with May when careening the vessel in the Nicobar Islands and left the vessel. 
 
Was elected quartermaster (an important position in a pirate vessel) in the ship Pearl, July 1693. Left the ship in October 1694 and served as a British gunner at Madras. Led a mutiny in a ship of the East India Company named Josiah, that brought him the command of this vessel. Was marooned at one of the Nicobar Islands but rescued. Made apologies to the Company and since there was a desperate of skilled seamen his excuses were accepted. Set sail in the Company’s Mocha but "participated with enhusiasm" in a next revolt led by > Stout. The mutineers set off to go "on the account", Mocha now Resolution. Was elected captain when Stout was killed. At the Nicobar Islands met Dirk > Chivers, late 1696. Sailing in consort they took a Moorish 200-ton ship laden with rice en and Portuguese laden with gold and silk to the value of 12.000 pounds sterling. Repaired to the Maldives to count and divide the loot and "inflict their undesirable attentions upon the natives".

Returned to the Strait of Malacca in the summer of ’97. Was surprised by richly laden British East India Man Dorrill, pouring a cannonball into Resolution’s mainmast. Took smaller fry of different nations and then made it to St. Mary’s (St. Marie), close to Madagascar’s mainland. Plundered a French ship there, gaining 2.000 pounds in cash. Met again and fraternized with William Kidd. Here is a mention of bombo, a very unpractical drink (of lime juice, sugar and water) with which Kidd toasted Culliford when he should have been fighting him. 
 
On the contrary, was presented with a brace of pistols and given the assurance that Kidd "had rather his Soul broiled in Hell-fire e’er he harmed his old Comrade, and new found Companian." 97 of Kidd’s men deserted to enlist with Culliford, the dominant figure then among the pirates. This probably being the reason Culliford was brought into the ballad Captain Kid’s Farewel to the Seas, or, the Famous Pirate’s Lament, 1701 - 22 five-lined stanzas of rough verse to the tune of Coming Down – even in the first person (15th stanze):

I, Captain Culliford, while I sailed, [while I sailed,]

I, Captain Culliford, while I sailed,

I, Captain Culliford,

Did many merchants board,

Which did much wealth afford, while we sailed.

Mid-June 1698 decided the time had come to put an end to the revelry of the previous weeks and to get back to sea, bristling with guns taken from Kidd’s Adventure Galley. Joined forces with > Chivers’ Soldado again. On September 23, 1698, followed the easily fought battle with Great Mohammed in the Red Sea (some reports say: Suratte); not a small feat, for this prize carried 100- to 130.000 pounds in cash. When dividing the spoils each crewman had more than 700 pounds sterling to his credit. Both rovers and their crews returned to St. Mary’s, February 1699. 
 
They eroded in sinking the valuable Mocha, fearing a British squadron of four men-of-war, who, actually, were there to offer the pirates a royal pardon. Some 24 men, among them Culliford, accepted the offer, August 1699. Transported to London he was granted bail on August 19, 1700. Yet had a trick played upon him. For "one day in the streets of London [was] recognized and denounced by another pirate called [>] Burgess". Tried in May 1701 for robbing and plundering Great Mohammed. 
 
The court ruled that the pardon received at St. Mary’s was invalid. All Culliford’s men were hanged. Not Culliford himself, excluded only to testify against Burgess in a separate trial. Was granted a pardon and released April 1702. What became of him afterwards is not known. Maybe served some naval vessel, maybe not.

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