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13 November 2014

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You are in: Cornwall > History > Local History > Is it the Nancy?

Is it the Nancy?

Local divers Todd Stevens and Ed Cumming from the Isles of Scilly claim they have discovered the wreck of the treasure laden packet ship the 'Nancy' that sank off Scilly more than two centuries ago whilst sailing from Bombay to London. 

Among the 49 passengers on board the ill-fated voyage to London in 1784 was one of the world's most famous actresses and opera singers, a lady renowned as much for her talents as she was for her affairs, elopements and fantastic riches, Ann Cargill.

Divers examine an anchor on the seabed

Divers examine an anchor on the seabed

The 23-year-old star had been performing in Calcutta where her lover was stationed with the British East India Company.

Mrs Cargill's body was recovered but it is claimed her vast personal fortune sank to the bottom of the sea.

The location of the packet ship Nancy has baffled divers and historians alike for centuries.

Modern literature reads that the ship ran into fierce storms near the treacherous rocks off Rosvear Island, west of the Scillies when in fact through extensive research, local divers Stevens and Cumming discovered it was in fact a small lifeboat of passengers that was wrecked off Rosevear.

Illustration of the Nancy

Illustration of the Nancy

The Nancy went down much further out off Rosevear ledges which has led other divers to look in the wrong direction.

Known as a graveyard for hundreds of ships, the western rocks is a trecherous location for sea farers.

Mr Cumming, 62, said: "It would have been an almost hopeless position. Up until then it had been a good passage, but then they hit the storm. There was no lighthouse."

46 year old Mr Stevens, from St Mary's says it took a year of work to track down the wreck and they believe they have enough evidence to prove it is the Nancy.

"We are hoping that there is some jewellery left down there. That would prove that it is definitely the Nancy"

Diver Todd Stevens

Stevens says that although you can never be sure whether the ship is the wreckage of the Nancy - all the evidence points to it being so. Findings of pottery from the East, used on East Indian ships point to it being an East Indian ship.

"It is the right period, we have sent pieces of pottery away for tests and they came from India at that time."

Mrs Cargill was believed to be travelling with cases of valuable jewels and Mr Stevens said if they do find any treasure they will donate the items to a museum on St Mary's.

Divers Todd Stevens and Ed Cumming

Divers Todd Stevens and Ed Cumming

Stevens explains, "We are hoping that there is some jewellery left down there. That would prove that it is definitely the Nancy.

As for the ship, Cumming says there is nothing left apart from pottery, iron bits and pieces, anchors and canons.

And what happened to the treasure? Cumming explains..."the treasure was probably lifted by the very competent local population at the time and then in 1785 the site was visited by a very well known diver family called the Braithwaites during the summer of '85 and it is likely that if there was anything else to be found, he would have found it."

last updated: 18/09/2008 at 14:37
created: 18/09/2008

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