1784 shipwreck discovered, say divers

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The Independent Online

The wreck of a treasure-laden ship that sank more than two centuries ago claiming the life of a famous British opera singer has been found, two divers said today.

In 1784 the packet ship Nancy and its 49 passengers sank after running on to rocks off the Isles of Scilly.

On board the vessel was Ann Cargill, an internationally renowned actress and opera singer who was returning to England from India.

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

She was travelling home to London when the Nancy hit storms off the Cornish coast.

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

Now divers Todd Stevens and Ed Cumming believe they have found the wreck of the ship and are hopeful they may even discover some of the lost treasure.

Mr Stevens, from St Marys, Isles of Scilly, said it took a year of work to track down the wreck and they believe they have enough evidence to prove it is the Nancy.

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

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

"It has been a real thrill.

"This kind of discovery is what you go diving for."

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 the island.

He said: "We are hoping that there is some jewellery left down there.

"That would prove that it is definitely the Nancy.

"If we find anything we will donate it to the local museum."

Mr Cumming said they are trying to piece together the human stories around the wreck.

He said the ship was heading to London when it ran into fierce storms near the treacherous rocks west of the island.

The 62-year-old 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."