Wreck of the Merchant Royal, Near Scilly, 1641 - Todd Stevens/BL

Narrative from the British library, regarding the treasure lost in the richly laden wreck of the Merchant Royall on the 23rd September, 1641. This wreck has still not been located and a report of the time places its sinking as being roughly 30 miles out from Lands End. An arc drawn from Lands End, out to that distance, naturally encompasses the Isles of Scilly. Is she somewhere close around these Islands? It is certainly a very real possibility. Estimates of her value on today’s market, are anything upwards of £500,000,000 perhaps even as much as £1 billion.

Ye Olde Mail on Sunday. 1 Groat.

Ye newfpaper of the yeare.

Sad News from the Seas

Being a true relation of the loffe of that good ship called the Merchant Royall, which was cast away ten leagues from the Lands End, on thurfday night, being the 23. Septemb, laft, 1641, having in her a world of treafure, as this ftory following doth truly relate.

Some dangers they paft, but lately arrived in cales (Calais?) where they continued afore they could prepare themselves for England at least 7 or 8 months, at end of which they difimbogu’d for England in company of Captaine Legend of Dover, in the Dover Merchant, a lufty ftout fhip of 400 tunnes, and 28, cast peeces of Ordnance; they fayled together, the Royall Merchant, in ftreffe of foule weather, sprung a leake in the bottome of the fhip, fo that the faylers were forced to tend the pumps day and night. Caprtaine Legend, not liking Captaine Limbryes courfe, with joint confent, fhaped another courfe fome point in variation fo that they did not abfolutely part fuddenly, but glide fidingly from eachother. Night came on and foule weather, they plyed their two chaine pumps, in midft of which labour both the pumpe chaines broke at once and fell into the wells, so that before they could any way recover and mend the chaines, they had got 4 foot water in the hold. They labour at their pumps with great strength, but could not prevaile over what was got in, but did keepe her in that eftate, nor more or leffe diminishing. They being over laboured could hardly pumpe more to any purpofe. Some of the seamen to the number of 30, got into the long boat, cut her off, and called to the Captaine to save himfelfe, he refufed it, and would have a merchant, his paffenger, to fave himfelfe. He anfwered hee had lived long in Spaine, and with great trouble got up 10,000 pound, and now would ftay by it, for his life hee valued not. The Captaine anfwered him it was all one whether he went in the boate or no, for they were in no better eftate than thofe lft aboord, having in the boate no oares, mfts, failes, or anything to keepe the boate afar the sea, and mft needs perifh undoubtedly. Being thus in defpaire they efpied a light at which they fhot off 30 piece of ordnance. It proved to bee Captaine Legend who in confideration of the Royall Merchants diftreffe returned to helpe them; they obferving their danger and the ship sinking, fent forth their long boate, which at divers times faved the men, but durft not come neare the fhip, so that the men to fave their lives were faine to fling themfelves in tackles and fo fwing from the finking fhip into the boate, who caught hole of their cloathes with their boate books. The Captaine was the laft, who would not forfake her until fhe was funke even unto her cooke room ports, and then got into the boat. 7 men that went downe on the lower deck, to breake up a cheft of gold, never came up, the fhip funke fo fast on them. This fhip was 700 tuns, 36 caft peeces of ordnance, 80 feamen, befides paffengers. fhe had in her 30,000 pound in ready boloigne, (Bullion) 100,000 pound in gold and as much value in jewels, befides each mans adventure, and the whole cargafon, (cargo) or rich lading of the fhip, all of which was funke in the fea, nothing faved. The Captaine on his landing, repaired to his houfe and family, with a hankercher about his neck, and will not be feene or fpoken with, as yet, by any his griefe is fo great. His name is Captaine John Limbry living neere Ratcliffe Croffe.