On this day 377 years ago: The Merchant Royal, carrying a treasure of over 100,000 pounds of gold (worth over £1 billion today), is lost at sea off Land's End.
Merchant Royal also known as Royal Merchant, was a 17th-century English merchant ship lost at sea off Land's End, Cornwall in rough weather on 23 September 1641. On board were at least 100,000 pounds of gold (over 1.5 billion USD in today's money), 400 bars of Mexican silver (another 1 million) and nearly 500,000 pieces of eight and other coins, making it one of the most valuable wrecks of all times.
The Merchant Royal spent three years trading with Spanish colonies in the West Indies from 1637 to 1640. England was at peace with Spain at this time. The Merchant Royal and her sister-ship, the Dover Merchant, called into Cadiz on their way home to London. By all accounts she was leaking badly after her long voyage.
The Merchant Royal went on leaking after she and her sister-ship left Cadiz and, when the pumps broke down, she sank off Land's End in rough weather on 23 September 1641.
Eighteen men drowned in the sinking. Captain Limbrey and 40 of his crew got away in boats and were picked up by Dover Merchant. It is not likely that the treasure was taken aboard the Dover Merchant.
REYES CATÓLICOS. 8 Reales. AR. Sevilla D Cuadrada. s/f. Con S y valor a los lados del escudo. En rev. D cuadrada. 27,32 g. CAL.185. Rara así. EBC-/EBC
Numismática Pliego • CC BY-SA 3.0
Retrieved 23 September, 2018
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