Infamous Pirates > Robert Culliford

Robert Culliford

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Robert Culliford was an infamous pirate that served originally under William Kidd and the two met while aboard the French privateer ship the Saint Rose in 1689. He is one of the first Pirate Rounders

Origins

Following the outbreak of the Nine Years War the British crew mutinied against their French shipmates and Kidd, Culliford and the six other British sailors seized the ship and renamed it the Blessed William. Kidd was elected captain but in February of 1690 the crew led by Culliford engaged yet another mutiny against Kidd and stole his ship making a man named William Mason captain.

Culliford would sail back to the West Indies and plundered cities and robbed ships. They eventually traveled to New York City to sell their goods and try to obtain a Letter of Marque. They were successful and the governor of the Province of New York named Jacob Leisler granted them a commission to carry out attacks against cities in Canada.

While on route they captured the French frigate named the L'Esperance. Mason gave command of the frigate to Culliford who now became a captain in his own right. He renamed the ship the Horne Frigate however, the crew was soon captured by French privateers and forced to return to New York minus all their captured treasure aboard a small vessel named the Jacob. They soon captured another French ship in December of 1690 with Culliford serving as the quartermaster on this second privateering expedition.

This time the pirates attempted the Pirate Round and made their way to the Indian Ocean. They landed at Mangrol in 1692 where they robbed and looted the local natives before getting captured by the Mughals. Culliford and his seventeen of his crew spent four years in the Gujarati prison before getting released.

Jailbreak

In spring of 1694 Culliford and some of his crew were able to escape from the Indian prison and made their way to the British controlled city of Bombay. Here they joined the British East India Company and got aboard a ketch ship named josiah. When the crew reached the port of Madras the pirates and Culliford seized the ship and set sail for the Bay of Bengal with renewed vigor for piracy after four years in prison.

Before they reached the bay however, the crew of the ship managed to overtake the pirates and marooned Culliford and the pirates. He was rescued by Ralph Stout who was captain of the Mocha. The pirates joined his crew and when Stout was killed in 1697 the pirates elected Culliford captain. His first act of his second command was to chase the British ship Dorill but was unable to continue after his mainmast was shot off with a cannonball.

With the ship crippled they set sail for the pirate haven at Ile Sainte-Marie and managed to capture a few prizes before reaching Madagascar. Off the coast of Ile Saint-Marie they captured a French ship containing £2000 worth of trade goods and treasure. However, upon his arrival at Madagascar he was greeted by his old captain, William Kidd. Kidd began plotting his revenge but instead his crew ended up liking Culliford more and joined his crew before Kidd was able to steal his ship.

The Great Mohammed

Culliford and his expanded crew set sail in late June of 1698 and left Kidd and his plundered ship. They soon met up with another pirate named Dirk Chivers and together the two pirate crews captured a massive treasure laden ship known as the Great Mohammed in September of 1698 in the Red Sea. The Great Mohammed was carrying about £130,000 in gold coins and was one of the greatest acts of piracy ever recorded.

After securing their massive prize they returned to Ile Saint-Marie and captured another prize along the way in February of 1699. While partying and enjoying the loot at the pirate haven four British man-o-war entered the port and offered Culliford and all of the pirates a royal pardon. Some pirates such as George Booth and Nathaniel North were smart enough to escape, Culliford accepted the pardon but was arrested anyways and sent to the Marshalsea prison on 1 August, 1700 for his piracy against the Great Mohammed.

Fate

Culliford's pardon was ruled invalid but he was saved from execution due to his required testimony in the trial of Samuel Burgess. From here Culliford disappears from the history leaving a legacy behind much like Henry Every. He apparently lived out to enjoy his loot and may have had secret protection from elements within the Royal Navy as he certainly had enough money to bribe anyone in order to escape and survive.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources