Wreck of the East India Company Packet NANCY

Isles of Scilly in 1784

Historical Treatise
Researched, compiled and edited by Ed Cumming.
Additional research by Todd Stevens.
Also: Based on the work of the Islands Maritime Archaeology Group (IMAG).
Winners of the 2008, NAS Adopt a Wreck Award.
‘The Rosevear Ledge Wreck Site’

“The Nancy Packet wrecked off Scilly, in a storm, on the 25th Febry 1784, by which the whole of the Crew, together with several Ladies & Gentlemen paƒsengers onboard, then on their return from India, all unhappily perished: a part of the Crew, having, with some of the paƒsengers embarked in a Boat, in hopes of reaching the neighbouring Island, but not being able to clear the Rocks, the whole company, were by an amazing swell of the sea, all buried in one common Grave, - among other persons of note onboard, was Mrs. Cargill the celebrated actreƒs, who having, in her shift, escaped with the rest of the boats company from the veƒsel just before it foundered, was while clasping the Infant of 16 Months old to her breast, swallowed up by the mercilefs ocean; together with that child of misfortune, Captn Haldane, who after beholding the Fairford, which he was appointed to command, burnt, in Bombay harbour, was reserved to finish his command & his misfortunes, with the Nancy Packet, among the inhospitable Rocks of Scilly”

To west of the Isles of Scilly lie the Western Rocks, one of the most treacherous areas for shipping around the British Isles and graveyard to countless wrecks. The whole area, it is said, is haunted with the ghosts of thousands of seafarers drowned over the centuries. The worst of these tragedies was the loss of four ships from Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel’s fleet on the 22nd October 1707, drowning an estimated 1500 to 2000 souls. The flag ship HMS Association striking and sinking near the Outer Gilstone rock.

During the early nineteenth century, following sustained pressure from the Navy and East India Company, Trinity House finally decided to build a lighthouse on the mitre shaped rock called the Bishop, at the western extremity of the Western Rocks, in an attempt to stop the heavy loss of shipping and life. During the building of what would be two light houses, due to the destruction of the first attempt, the tiny island called Rosevear, two miles to the East of the Bishop rock, was chosen to house the workmen.

Legend has it that the workmen were not sorry to leave the island once the work was completed. Not only because of the harsh and exposed conditions, but the fact that they were convinced Rosevear was haunted.

During construction of their dwellings and work areas they had found the bones of several individuals in the shallow soils of the island and, over the years they had been on the island, there had been several occasions where some of the workmen had been convinced they could hear a haunting lullaby, sung by a young singer/actress called Ann Cargill, to her young baby.

Both of whom where known by them to have drowned on the shore of Rosevear, along with all the ship's company, in the wreck of the East India Company packet NANCY, on a stormy night at the end of February, 1784.

“This lovely creature was found floating, in her chemise, as she had lain in her bed, and in her arms, inseparably clasping, the infant of which she had been delivered. The maternal instinct had not yielded even to death itself.”

Download the full report here: Wreck_of_the_EIC_Packet_-_NANCY_PDF.pdf