For centuries, treasure hunters and historians alike have been looking for one of the most famous ships to have ever gone down. Not only is the ship famous, but it has been a major mystery as to how the ship sunk in the first place and where it went down. This ship was carrying one of the world’s famous actresses and her prized jewels.
Now two British divers claim that they may have found the ship, Nancy. It is believed that the ship had smashed into rocks, resulting in its ultimate demise in 1784.
On board the ship was 24-year-old Ann Cargill, a gorgeous opera singer who was known for her scandalous love life, as well as her wonderful talents. She was on her way from Bombay to London, having been forced to leave India after being expelled from the country. It is thought that the Indians believed she brought shame to the country’s “pure shores”. One of the many rumors about the famous singer was that she was linked to many lovers, which was frowned upon at that time. Another rumor was that she had actually given birth to an illegitimate child. So after being expelled from India, she packed up all of her riches and left the country. However, she never made it home to London.
It is believed that the ship she was on sank off the Isles of Scilly. After an unidentified body was found, it was buried in a pauper’s grave. When papers were sent to London, officials figured out it was Cargill’s body, so it was exhumed and buried at the Isles of Scilly. The jewels that were found on her body paid for a plot and tombstone. However, no one today is exactly sure of the spot where she was buried.
Ann Cargill had been one of the most adored actresses since she was a child, and she was loved by her theater audiences. In fact, she charged “astonishing” fees in order to play at some of the top theaters in London during the late 1700s.
She was the daughter of a coal merchant and had embarked on numerous affairs, according to rumors, when she was only 15 years old. She had run off with playwright Miles Peter Andrews. Merely a teenager, she ended up eloping, running away from the theater and her family, and eventually traveling to India, where she had found another lover. She performed in packed theaters for a while, taking a share of the profits as well as her payment from the theater. Soon she began acquiring large sums of money because of her successes.
Her bosses at the East India Company saw her as immoral, which resulted in her being fired. She drowned in route to London from Bombay, carrying what many people believe to be an estimated 200,000 pounds.
For nearly 200 years divers from around the world have been trying to find Nancy’s wreckage. However, it appears that they were all looking in the wrong area. British divers Todd Stevens and Ed Cummings believe that they discovered the 10-gun ship. They believe the ship crashed on rocks in February 1784, killing all its 49 passengers.
Many different accounts of Cargill’s death have been written. Some say that her body was found dressed in a shift, with a baby attached to her bosom, and this was the story published in English newspapers. Some locals have told the legend that her lonely spirit still haunts the island and rocks where she died. Some have said that they even hear her singing to her lost child.
After the wreckage was found, historians began studying the actress life. One historian compared the actress to more modern stars. Another historian, Marcus Risdell, said that all of the records about the actress support that she was incredibly famous and enjoyed being in the spotlight.
He added that actresses during those times were always facing rumors about themselves, whether true or not. However, Cargill actually encouraged all of the rumors. He explained that Cargill had even once played a part of a young runaway in a London theater, and literally ran away from the entire performance and theater.
He compared Cargill to Britney Spears. Since she was so vulnerable and relied on other people to make her famous, she generally ended up with unsuitable men. She was never pointed in the right direction as far as what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
Cummings had said that this has always been one of the more intriguing wrecks to look for. Not only does it have an apparent lost treasure, but it also caused a tragic ending for a beautiful, famous actress. He added that since the ship headed into a dreadful storm, it was almost hopeless to assume that the passengers and crew would come out of it alive.
What really brought about the ship’s death is that it hit a storm and Bishops Rock, had not yet been built, so there was no lighthouse to guide the ship. Cummings explained that the ship would not have been able to see the lighthouse at St. Agnes either. He also added that they were trying to piece together the stories of the other passengers.
One of the newspapers’ published articles about the wreck stated that the ship had been driven into a small island. However, they realized that the descriptions actually referred to a lifeboat crashing into the island, not the actual ship itself.
They expressed that divers were not actually looking in the wrong places, they just needed to look further out from the island. Now that they know that the lifeboat crashed so close to the island, they can guess just how far out the ship itself had crashed.
When the ship first crashed into the rocks no one on the outside suspected it. The only way people found out that ship had sunk at all was when paperwork began washing up onto shore and onto the beaches. It took nearly a week for the storm to subside, but when a rescue boat made it out to see, if there were any survivors, there were none to be found. However, the rescue boat did find many bodies. One of the bodies found was a woman who was clutching her dead child. Rescuers at the time did not realize it was Cargill. Official logs in India showed she had been carrying all of her possessions, including jewels and gifts from her various, scandalous lovers, and a £200,000 fortune.
Stevens had moved to Scilly years ago, hoping to discover the Nancy. It only took him a few dives to discover the wreckage. The two divers have written a book about their find.