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Who was Robert Culliford?
Robert Culliford was an English pirate, best known for
being Captain Kidd's mate who stole his ship, "The Blessed William", in 1690.
After this action, William May was elected the new captain of the ship and
together with Culliford sailed to Madagascar and near by India before they
jumped ship at the Nicobar Islands, heading back to New York.
William May received the command of the vessel "The
Pearl" and Culilford was the quartermaster, sailing to Mangalore, India in 1694.
Robert Culliford left "The Pearl" and signed on as a gunner aboard the
Merchantman Josiah, the ship he seized two years later after leading a mutiny in
However, the crew recaptured the Josiah near
Nicobar Islands leaving Culliford behind on the islands, the place in which he
remained until Captain Ralph Stout rescued him. Robert Culliford joined Stout's
crew aboard the "Mocha". In 1697, Ralph Stout was killed and Culliford was
elected captain of the vessel.
Sailing to the Strait of Malacca, Culliford began
to pursue the British ship Dorrill, but the crew of this ship opened fire and
cut off the Mocha's main mast. Captain Culliford retreated to the Madagascar
region and plundered numerous ships sailing near Saint Mary's Island, including
a French vessel with £ 2,000 worth of cargo.
Meanwhile, Captain William Kidd divided his Quedah
Merchant, sailing to St. Mary's Island to meet with Culliford. Old grievances
were forgiven and Captain Kidd's crew joined Culliford in 1698, departing from
the island to team up with Dirk Chivers in the capture of the Great Mohammed
sailing in the Red Sea that year.
Along with Chivers, Culliford received a royal
pardon, but once arriving in London, he was arrested and condemned for piracy
arguing that his pardon was invalid. However, he was not hanged because his
testimony was necessary during Samuel Burgess' trial, after which his name
disappeared from the records, although, popular belief states that he served
aboard a naval ship for the rest of his life.
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