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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Smuggler's sword returns home
Polperro
Polperro was rife with smuggling 200 years ago
A sword brandished by a Cornish smuggler more than two centuries ago has returned to his home village.

It belonged to Robert Mark, who met a violent end at the age of 40 when he was shot by a cannon ball.

It has been kept for some years at the Royal Armouries, at the National Museum of Arms and Armour in Leeds.

Now it has been loaned to the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing.

Running contraband reached its peak in the tiny port in the 18th century, thanks to Zephaniah Job, who acted as the smugglers' banker.

Smuggling poster
Rewards were offered to trap smugglers
Fishermen supplemented meagre earnings hiding salt, liquor, tea and tobacco in secluded coves, despite the presence of a full-time customs man at Polperro.

Robert Mark sailed aboard the Lottery, the most infamous of the local smuggling boats.

A fellow crewman was executed for murdering a customs officer in 1798.

Mark was killed later by a shot from a Revenue cutter.

He is buried at nearby Talland church.

The sword is engraved with the words "R Mark, Polperro, 1789".

One of his descendants, Ralph Mark, who lives in Polperro, said it was wonderful to have the sword back where it belonged.

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