Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 20:41 UK

Wrecked ship could be the Nancy

Portrait of Ann Cargill: Pic SWNW
Ann Cargill's remains are buried on St Mary's: Pic SWNS

Two divers believe they have found the wreck of a treasure-laden ship which sank more than two centuries ago off the Isles of Scilly.

Forty-nine people lost their lives when the packet ship Nancy hit rocks during storms in 1784.

One of those who perished was Ann Cargill, a famous opera singer who was returning to England from India.

Now Todd Stevens and Ed Cumming think they have found the wreck and hope to recover some of the lost treasure.

Mrs Cargill's body was recovered - claimed by some newspaper articles to be clutching a small child - but it is believed several of her cases containing valuable jewels sank to the bottom of the sea.

The 23-year-old singer made her name in Covent Garden and Drury Lane before leaving her husband to travel to India and perform in Calcutta where her lover was stationed with the British East India Company.

This kind of discovery is what you go diving for
Todd Stevens

Mr Stevens, who moved to St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly several years ago, said it had taken a year to track down the wreck, but he and Mr Cumming now believe they have enough evidence to prove it is the Nancy.

"Everything points to it being the Nancy - the location, the size," the 46-year-old said.

"It has been a real thrill. This kind of discovery is what you go diving for."

Museum donation

Tests carried out on of pieces of pottery show they came from India at that time, Mr Stevens said.

The divers said if other items of treasure are found, they will be donated to the museum on St Mary's.

"We are hoping that there is some jewellery left down there," he said

"That would prove that it is definitely the Nancy."

The Nancy: Pic SWNS
The Nancy was en-route to London when it ran into storms: Pic SWNS

The divers are trying to piece together the human stories surrounding the wreck.

The ship was sailing to London when it ran into fierce storms near treacherous rocks west of the Scillies.

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."

Any wreck material found within UK territorial waters must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

NDTV Wreckage of British-Indian ship found - 4 hrs ago
The Scotsman A shipwreck, a heroine and a lost fortune - 10 hrs ago
The Independent 1784 shipwreck discovered, say divers - 14 hrs ago
Telegraph The Nancy shipwreck of 1784 is 'found' - 17 hrs ago
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Television movies for the week of Sept. 14 (Today) - 14 Sep 2008

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific