British ship The Nancy sank off the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall in south western England, in 1784. They are the the most westerly part of England.

Onboard the ship that fateful night was British opera diva Ann Cargill, the 18th Century's "Marilyn Monroe."

Ann's ghost is said to roam Rosevear, one of the Isles of Scilly.

Now, the wreck of the Nancy has been discovered....

Pictured: The legendary shipwreck that claimed life of 18th-century's 'Marilyn Monroe' and 200,000 worth of jewels

By Daily Mail Reporter
17th September 2008
Daily Mail

The ship sank off the Isles of Scilly, the westernmost part of England

A legendary British shipwreck shrouded in mystery and tales of treasure and tragedy for over 200 years has been discovered by a couple of divers.

Treasure hunters, tempests and an infamous beauty all surround the story of the Nancy, who was dashed to smithereens one stormy night in February 1784.

When the ship crashed into the jagged Western rocks of the Isles of Scilly it took with it British opera diva Ann Cargill.

The silken-voiced maiden's life and death were a sensation in London at the close of the 18th Century her beauty and scandalous behaviour were renowned - she was the Marilyn Monroe of her day.

Lost treasure: Divers Ed Cumming and Todd Stevens have discovered the wreck of the ship The Nancy which sunk off the Isles of Scilly. Here, one of the divers sizes up its anchor

When the Nancy was wrecked at Scilly, a fortune said to be 'beyond the dreams of avarice' was also sent to the bottom of the sea.

For centuries, the remains of the ship eluded successive expeditions as divers sought to find the sunken treasure.

But thanks to a mixture of shrewd detective work and skilful diving, Scilly residents Todd Stevens and Ed Cumming have finally discovered the wreck of The Nancy.

The ship was destined for London from India and had 49 people on board, but its most famous passenger was the notorious actress and opera singer.

She had been effectively ejected from India on the express orders of then Prime Minister William Pitt The Younger, who said 'an actress should not be defiling the pure shores of India'.

Historic find: Ed Cumming and Todd Steven on the beach at St.Mary's on the isles of Scilly.
The shipwreck might contain more than 200,000 of jewels

But accompanied by her illegitimate child, she was returning home a rich woman.

Ann was said to be festooned in exotic jewels gifts from a succession of rich lovers and to have 200,000 which at the time would have been the wealth of royalty.

'It is one of the best stories I have ever told. It has everything, a beautiful actress, a tragic shipwreck and a lost fortune,' said Mr Cumming, 62.

'The Nancy was bound from Bombay to London when she ran into a dreadful storm near the treacherous rocks west of Scilly.

'It would have been an almost hopeless position,' said Mr Cumming.

'Up until then it has been a good passage, but then they hit the storm. There was no lighthouse to guide them as Bishops Rock had not been built.

Lost at sea: The exact location of The Nancy has baffled historians and divers sink it sunk in 1784

'They would not have been able to see the lighthouse at St Agnes either.'

As the ship was dashed on the rocks near St Agnes, the first islanders knew of the unfolding tragedy was when paperwork washed ashore.

It took seven full days for the storm to subside, but when it did a rescue boat was sent out in the vain hope there may be a survivor clinging to the rocks.

All the Scillonian men found were mutilated bodies of sailors and passengers who had been pummelled by the sea and the rocks for a week.

To their shock they found one body - a woman still clinging to her baby - had remained remarkably unscathed.

It was that of Ann Cargill but she was not recognised by the islanders who simply buried everyone they found in makeshift graves on the barren island of Rosevear.

Weeks later, when the washed up papers had been sent to London, the presence of Ann Cargill on the Nancy was revealed, prompting national mourning and her body to be exhumed and reburied on St Mary's.

Infamous: A portrait of actress Ann Cargill , who perished in the shipwreck along with 200,000 worth of jewels

Mr Stevens said the jewels on her body were used to fund a neat memorial although he has not yet managed to locate the grave.

With its fascinating passenger and lucrative cargo, the wreck of the Nancy had been sought by many salvagers.

In the 1970s, a number of diving expeditions had been launched but came to nothing with most assuming that the ship had been ground to splinters on the rocks.

However, the modern day sleuths on Scilly decided to re-examine contemporary texts and came up with a startling revelation.

'It had been written that they 'were driven' onto Rosevear Island by the stormy sea and most people took it that meant The Nancy,' said Mr Cumming, who does most of the team's research.

'We realised that after the ship had hit the rocks, the passengers had got into a smaller boat and that was the one that was "driven" onto Rosevear.

'So people were looking in the wrong place for The Nancy, they should have been looking further out.'

Secret location: The divers have found several pieces of the ship including one of the its guns

Mr Stevens moved to Scilly a decade ago to pursue his passion for diving and has since discovered a number of shipwrecks.

After being put on the right track by his friend, he was able to locate the Nancy within the first few dives.

The 46-year-old said: 'Doing this has been so rewarding. We are still trying to piece together the human stories around the wreck.

'It has been a real thrill. This kind of discovery is what you go diving for.'

The wreck was actually found last year, but the two men have only just revealed their discovery because they were keen that the site should not be disturbed.

Unfortunately they haven't discovered any of the treasure.

'Ed is a pessimist and he thinks it's gone, but I am an optimist and I think it's still there,' said Mr Stevens.

If they do find the gold, it will all be handed over to the museum on Scilly, they said.

The pair have now written a book called the The Ghosts of Rosevear - It was said that Ann Cargill's lonely spirit still wandered around the island and the sound of sweet singing heard on the wind was the lullaby she sang to soothe her baby as they perished.