Wreck of the Princess (Prinses) Maria, Scilly, 1686 - Todd Stevens


 The tale of the theft of 14000 silver coins from the wreck of the Princess Maria lost in 1686.

The Princess (Prinses) Maria was the biggest vessel ever built by the Dutch East India Company, and she shipped the largest cargo of bullion ever carried of her period. The ship was lost on Silver Carn and over 400 people lost their lives. With her upper parts Exposed at low tide, pillagers boarded the wreck and carried away what they could. The biggest pillager by far being King James the 2nd, who sent his royal yacht, the Isabella, for the purpose. The Isabella carried away 15 bags, containing the 14,000 silver pieces of eight. 

The Princess Maria was named after the King Jamesís protestant daughter Mary, and it became an international scandal that he sent his Yacht, the Isabella, named after his favourite Catholic daughter, to plunder the wreck of its vast treasure.  As a result the Dutch were up in arms that the English King could behave in such an abominable manner, and this forced James to seek the advice of his best Lawyers.  At this time every effort had been made to hide any knowledge the king had of the wreck. The name of the ship never appeared in shipwreck lists and was not allowed mentioned in contemporary literature.  Information of the shipwreck today is scarce, and this is due to the fact that when William of Orange came to England, anyone who had any kind of correspondence with King James-burned it!!  Law at the time stated that: if any survivors, even a dog, were found aboard a wrecked ship, the vessel and its cargo could not be claimed by a salvor like King James.  Whereas, if the wreck was devoid of life, James could legally claim salvage. Oddly, a report of there being two survivors mysteriously disappeared, and these survivors were believed to have been done away with. (Her anchors are beneath the Thames [1].  The rudder; hull timbers and some guns are present on site and mercury contaminates the seabed beneath the sand.

Looking out over the wreck site [ts]


[1] - Steamer lost on Jacky's Rock in 1841.