It is impossible to say precisely who the first white men to see New Hampshire was. They may have been Norsemen, Irish, or fishermen from some other Western European country. It is certain, however, that the English sea captain Martin Pring visited the coastal areas of New Hampshire in June 1603.
He went to the lower parts of the Piscataqua River and wrote in his journal that the banks were lined with “very goodly groves and woods.”
Since it is one of the oldest settled areas of the eastern United States, the state of New Hampshire offers almost any type of treasure an interested person cares to search for.
Although this cache, or caches, have been searched for, there is no public record of anything ever being found.
In 1720, a group of people trying to get from Ireland to Boston were stopped at sea by the notorious pirate Philip Babb, who worked with Captain William Kidd and was one of his crew. When the pirate was recognized, one of the women on board, Elizabeth Fulton, who was expecting a child, delivered it as the pirates boarded the ship.
For probably the only time in his life, Philip Babb was emotionally affected. He asked the mother whether she would name the baby after his dead wife. Willing to promise anything under the circumstances, the mother agreed. Babb gave her a bolt of expensive green cloth for the baby and then sent the emigrant ship on its way.
The mother kept her promise and named the baby girl Ocean Born Mary. The emigrants settled in the community of Londonderry in southern New Hampshire. The baby grew up here and married James Wallace when she was twenty-two. The old pirate, Philip Babb, had kept in touch with the Fulton family and sent expensive gifts to them.
Through the politics of the time, Babb somehow managed to get a pardon and moved to the tiny village of Henniker, where he built a beautiful home. This house has been restored and is now a tourist attraction.
When Ocean-Born Mary’s husband died, she and her sons went to live with the old pirate. It is a matter of recorded history that Babb was wealthy and had probably buried part of his gold near his home. He is also thought to have buried large amounts of loot on the tiny island of Appledore, one of the groups known as the Isles of Shoals.
Babb was killed by robbers trying to force him to tell them where his treasure was buried. There is little doubt that a large amount of money is buried somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Henniker. Anyone searching for this treasure might also look for garments, as several gem-quality items have been found in the area.
It is hard to believe that gold and silver are in New Hampshire, but the following recorded locations prove it.
Lisbon has twice had a mining boom. In 1805, iron ore was discovered on Ore Hill in the Sugar Hill section of the township. This mining industry flourished until about 1850, when competition from the West ruined it. At one time, this ore vein was considered the richest in the country. In 1864, gold was discovered in the western portion of the township.
Only one mine was in Lisbon, but Lisbon was the center of the industry, with several stamping mills. At one time, more than $50,000 worth of gold from this field was in circulation. Well over a million dollars was invested in the gold mines and equipment.
Still, as it drifted into speculation and a lack of funds, the industry died out. Slate, granite, soapstone, silver, and lead have also been mined in the area.
Gold has been found near Dublin. In 1875, a mini-strike was made, and an attempted to mine the ore was started, but the gold was in such small quantities that the enterprise was abandoned.
Gold in small amounts has also been found in the Lost and Pemigewasset Rivers near the Maine state line.
At one time, silver was mined on Mt. Hayes, near Gorham. In 1881, a company was formed to mine the newly discovered galena.
A plant was started, several veins were opened, and considerable ore was removed. But the price of silver at that time did not justify continued operations. But with the price of silver today, it could pay to investigate the old Mascot Mine, the remains of which can still be seen.
For those interested in searching for hidden treasures of the Colonial period, the following two sites could be worthwhile.
When the war between France and England spread across the Atlantic to North America, French agents from Canada were sent to operate among the tribes of Indians in the British Colonies. Harnessing the resentment already felt by the Indians at the loss of their lands, these agents were able to stir up a ferocious hatred of the colonists. The French gave the Algonquins weapons and ammunition, so they and other tribes terrorized British frontier outposts for thirty years.
Often, the Indians took entire families as prisoners. They were taken to Rock Rimmon, about two miles from Kingston, along with the stolen goods the Indians had amassed. There, the whites were held for ransom. The English paid varying amounts in gold and silver coinage to gain the hostages’ release. Prices ranged from five pounds sterling for a child to fifty pounds for an adult male.
In this way, the Indians could get a lot of jewelry and coins they didn’t need. When the Indians were finally driven out of what is now New Hampshire, it was known that they had secreted large amounts of loot. A cave on the Rock Rimmon plateau near Kingston in Rockingham County is said to be one of these places.
In 1903, a search for this cave was done, and several Indian relics were found, but the cavern was never located. This is a good place to do local research into a known location of coinage, Colonial items, and Indian relics.
Another location of Indian loot is believed to be near Stub Hill in northern Coos County. Several white prisoners who were later freed by paying a ransom said that after they were captured, they were forced to march to Canada. While they were traveling, two Indians carried a large iron cooking pot full of loot suspended between two poles. Just before skirting the mountain, Stub Hill, the two Indians fell behind the traveling group, and when they rejoined the party, the kettle was missing.
It’s unlikely that the Indians ever returned to get these things since they didn’t need them and could get similar stuff on any of their raids.
Even though it is a recorded fact, the loss of a silver statue of the Madonna in the White Hills of New England in 1759 is still quite a mystery. As treasures go, the silver statue doesn’t have a very high monetary value, but it has a very high historical value.
The story of the silver Madonna began in the days of the French and Indian War when the border conflict between the French Canadians and the British Colonists was at its height. Lord Jeffrey Amherst, who was in charge of the British forces at Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point, was angry that the French and their Indian allies had attacked small settlements in New York and New England.
He wanted to stop these border raids, so he called Major Rogers and told him to send his famous rangers to attack the Indian village of St. Francis in Québec, which was often used as a starting point for raids against the Colonies.
Rogers’ band of 200 men first rowed by whaleboats to the northern end of Lake Champlain, moving only at night to avoid patrolling French vessels. Finally, Major Rogers called a halt one evening, 22 days out of Crown Point. Their destination, the Indian village of St. Francis, was only a few miles away.
After the victorious battle, a group of rangers rushed into the chapel, stripping the altar of its gold chalice, two heavy gold candlesticks, a cross, and a giant silver statue of the Virgin Mary. The golden candlesticks were found on the shores of Lake Memphremagog in 1806. Still, no clue about the silver statue’s location has ever appeared.
Rogers ordered his men to march southward toward home. They had been on the trail for a short time when the rear guard reported that a strong force of French and Indians was coming after them. Many of the stragglers were caught and killed immediately by their pursuers.
The group carrying the silver statue of the Madonna made its way past Lake Memphremagog to the Connecticut River. They were pursued so closely that they could not stop and hunt for food. The group had been reduced to four by the time they had taken over the banks of Connecticut.
One of the four, professing to know something of this wilderness country, led the little band through the Great Notch of the White Hills. They crawled here into the meager shelter of overhanging rocks on a precipice near the Israel River. One of the rangers suddenly seized the silver Madonna and hurled it over the edge of the ridge.
Years later, foresters found parts of the lost detachment in this area of the Israel River. Still, all efforts to locate the silver Madonna were fruitless.
There is sufficient historical documentation to affirm that the silver Madonna was carried by that part of Rogers’ band that fled toward the Connecticut River. The “Federated Writers’ Guide,” a well-researched source of information, on page 384, gives this site as being near Jefferson, New Hampshire. Also, certainly, the treasure has never been found.
While this treasure site may sound like fiction, known facts reveal its credibility. A fabulous diamond necklace that once belonged to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, may be buried somewhere on the banks of a small pond in New Hampshire.
Marie-Antoinette had the best jewelers in France make her a beautiful diamond necklace right before the French Revolution. Records show that the necklace cost six million pounds.
As the Revolution was getting closer, the necklace was sent to Canada, a safe place for Frenchmen who had to leave their country. There is no written account of what happened to the necklace after that.
In the late 1700s, a Frenchman with an Indian companion came from Canada to settle near Nashua, New Hampshire. The two men built a hut beside a wooded road that led to Pennichuck Pond.
At intervals, the Indians made trips back to Canada. While he was gone, the Frenchman kept to himself, only leaving the house for vital necessities or a solitary walk along the banks of Pennichuck Pond. Both men were highly close-mouthed and took no one into their confidence.
While the Indian was away on one of his periodic trips to Canada, the old Frenchman died in his sleep. Upon returning to find his long-time friend dead, the Indian seemed very grieved. He stayed at the house for only a few days and left, not being seen in Nashua again for many years.
When he did return, many former residents had moved away, and only a few knew him. He inquired about the whereabouts of a strip of “wampum” that sparkled in the sunlight. He told the townspeople that the Frenchman had been its caretaker, and the two had buried it somewhere on the shore of Pennichuck Pond. But he could not remember the exact spot and had been unable to relocate it.
The string of sparkling wampum, which many believe has been Marie-Antoinette’s lost diamond necklace, was never found, and it may still be buried somewhere on the banks of the small, quiet Pennichuck Pond.
Although there is no way to make sure, unless it is found, that the necklace lost in New Hampshire is the one that belonged to Marie-Antoinette, records do show that her priceless necklace was lost during the French Revolution and has never been reported found.
There are many sunken wrecks dotting the sandy and rock-lined ocean bottom around Star Island, one of the groups known as the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire, and many of these wrecks are unidentified and of undetermined value.
Some early records from Spain indicate that a Spanish galleon crashed on the eastern shore of Star Island around 1685 at a spot known as Miss Underhill’s Chair. This galleon carried substantial gold, silver, and silver bullion. This should be an excellent project for divers. By the way, some of the wood from this galleon was used to build the Gosport Church on Star Island.
On the island’s western side, an old fort was once protected by nine cannons. Even though the cannons have been taken away, the area around the fort is a great place to look for relics, coins, and other things with a metal detector.
There were also marauding bands of Wampanoag Indians on the island trying to overthrow the New England settlements in King Philip’s War in 1675. Searching the island carefully might turn up some artifacts from this period.
In the 18th century, a silver ship went down near Appledore Island. The sailors could get ashore with a lot of the silver bullion on board. The history of the sailors has been lost over the years, but there have been many cases of people finding silver coins on or near the ledges along the island’s eastern side.
Smuttynose Island is the site of Blackbeard’s buried treasure of silver bars and pieces of eight. The silver bars are believed to be the same ones found by Captain Samuel Haley. Haley found five large silver bars while building a sea wall for Malaga Island. So if those were the silver bars Blackbeard buried, the eight pieces are yet to be found.
Records from Crosport show that in January 1813, a ship named Conception out of Cadiz, Spain, was far off its course in a storm, slid by Cedar Island, and crashed ashore at Southeast Point, Smuttynose Island. Her cargo of dried fruits, almonds, bales of broadcloth, and a treasure of gold and silver went down with her crew. Gold and silver were discovered shortly after the wreck on the low-tide shore. Also found was a silver pocket watch inscribed with the initials P. S.
One mile southwest of Star Island, White Island also holds treasure buried by John Quelch and probably others at several locations. In March 1876, only one person survived a shipwreck on an unidentified brig that crashed behind White Island.
The schooner Birkmyre hit Duck Island in March 1875, losing two of its crew and a substantial amount of money in a chest that has not been recovered.
These are only a few of the reported treasures of the Isles of Shoals. Most of these islands are rich in history and make excellent sites for metal detecting, coin shooting, bottle and relic hunting, and whatever else you want to try. Just be sure to obtain written permission, if possible, to search on any private property. And leave it the way it was before you did your searching.
Lake Horace is just south of Weare, New Hampshire, about 20 miles from Concord and Manchester. It can be reached by Route 77. The park is a community project, and village authorities should secure permission before venturing into what is sure to be a sea of mud.
To those who scoff at this hot tip, we have seen as many as 2,000 heads bobbing up and down on the southern shore of the lake and a like number of boats out in the middle. There are factual records of 10,000 visitors at Lake Horace on a Fourth of July weekend.
“Fishing plugs, spoons, and spinners are fast becoming collector’s items,” said one writer, “and millions must be on the bottom of Lake Horace. I know because I’ve contributed my share. How many steel, glass, aluminum, and bamboo rods have slipped over the side of the boat? I’d like to have the value in money for all the outboard motors on the bottom of that lake.”
“There is enough ice-fishing gear on the bottom of that lake to outfit several hundred winter fishermen,” exclaimed another. “All of it could be salvaged.”
“How about the steel traps around that lake and on the bottom,” commented a Maine author. “Trappers have been taking muskrats, minks, and a few otters out of Lake Horace for years. Steel traps are not quite collectible, particularly some of the older ones. Many guys have lost their whole line during an ice out.”
There are steel traps, fishing lures, outboard motors, and maybe even a few aluminum boats nestled in the mud on the bottom of the picturesque manmade lake. All are worth salvaging.
But there are other things, too.
No one can even guess how many bottles have been dumped from the end of a boat into the lake. There are bound to be some of the early Coke bottles, simply due to the antiquity of the lake and the fact that booze was long frowned upon by the local park committee.
Swimmers and water skiers have lost rings, bracelets, watches, and even necklaces. On the Fourth of July weekend, a well-loaded lady’s pocketbook slid over the side of a tipsy rowboat. It contained several pieces of jewelry and quite a wad of dough. It was never found.
There are no treasure boats or ingots on the bottom of Lake Horace. But there is loot aplenty for those diligent enough to search for it.
When the first stirrings of the American Revolution moved across the colonies, those public officials loyal to the British often found themselves tarred and feathered before they were run out of town.
Not wanting to wait until things got really bad, New Hampshire Governor John Wentworth decided to seize the opportunity while it was still available. And so it was that he took his wife and servants, along with seven chests of his belongings, and headed post-haste toward Canada.
It didn’t take Wentworth long to realize that all that weight slowed them down too much. It was a painful decision, but he decided to cache the seven chests along the way. After all, he could always come back and get them after the colonists were beaten and the British had everything under control again.
To the surprise of a great many people, the colonists won their fight for independence. Some of the Tories hid treasures, like Wentworth’s seven chests, which were never found. One of the chests was reported to have been filled with $25,000 in coins, and the other six with silverware and silver services for his table. The treasure would, of course, be worth a lot more money today.
So far as is known, the treasure has never been recovered. It is still where Governor Wentworth cached it, in Durham, New Hampshire.
John Cromwell was an Indian fur trader who acquired 300 acres of land and built a trading post on the west side of the Merrimac River at the falls, which now bear his name. He earned a reputation for cheating the Indians, and they became hostile.
When Cromwell was warned that the Indians planned to attack the fort, he buried his fortune on the grounds and fled. The Indians burned his trading post to the ground, leaving only traces of where the cellar once was. The signs were visible for many years. Though Cromwell lived until 1661, it seems he never attempted to recover his treasure.
After his mortgage was foreclosed on several times, Henry Farwell and Jonathan Bancroft bought his home. It is said that these men dug up a treasure near the site of the burned trading post. It was presumed to have been Cromwell’s. Still, some early pioneers contended that this was the only part of the treasure, the remainder of which has never been found.
On September 25, 1710, the English ship Nottingham left her home port of London and headed for New England in the Americas. The day started sunny and bright. Of 120 tons and galley construction, she was crewed by fourteen men and carried ten cannons. Commanded by Captain Jonathan Dean, she carried loads of cordwood from England, butter and cheese from Ireland, and one exceptional cargo, a packet of twelve blood-red rubies in charge of agent Winthrop Sloan, the sole free passenger aboard.
The valuable gems were bought from Dutch traders in Ceylon, and then Winslow and Kettering Jewelers had them cut in London. They were sold to a wealthy French aristocrat, the Count de Florent, on the condition that they were rendered into matching jewelry items.
The court also insisted that the gold settings match those of a large pendant and brooch he already owned. For this, the Frenchman specifically requested the services of a fine goldsmith whose work he admired; but now the goldsmith was living in America.
Representatives from Winslow and Kettering tried every means to persuade Florent to accept the services of another man in London. Still, the count remained adamant in his demand. There was no choice but to send the rubies to America for setting and then to ship them back to England afterward.
The gems were large and carefully packed into an oblong metal box measuring one inch by one-half inch by twelve inches. This box was then securely stored in the ship’s iron safe. Even though the stones would be worth more than $1.5 million on the market today, the count bought them at a meager price for the time being.
As Nottingham left England, she was met with sunshine and carried along by brisk winds. But by the time the galley got close to New England, it was December, bringing the harsh winter weather typical for the area. The ship had been met with intermittent storms sometime earlier, but now she was firmly in the grip of a full-force gale.
As they proceeded south, the storm only worsened, and visibility shrank to nothing. The ship plowed onward for about twelve days, enveloped in blinding snow flurries. On December 11, the wind threatened to capsize the ship, so Captain Dean ordered the sails dropped and a lookout posted forward. Dean approached the bow around eight o’clock and noticed white breakers to the starboard.
At almost the same instant, a huge wave lifted the galley and plunged it against the eastern end of the jagged, exposed rock known as Boon Island.
At this point, by the captain’s own account, he summoned the entire crew below decks to pray for relief from the storm. After a few moments, the captain decided that other measures were equally necessary and ordered the masts to be cut.
The captain ordered three hands to leap into the ocean and make for the shore. At the same time, he returned below to obtain documents, money, and supplies that could prove valuable. The ship’s ribs gave way under the pounding sea just as Dean reached his cabin. Her hull split open, and her stern filled with water. Dean immediately turned and thrashed his way through the rising water to the foredeck empty-handed.
Dean scaled the bowsprit and launched himself toward the black rock, plunging into the water just short of it. He found the rock slimy and sharp. His arms and hands were poorly cut as the waves battered over him. Finally, he succeeded in climbing out of the froth to relative safety. Hearing voices in the darkness, Dean crawled along until he joined three of his friends.
By ten o’clock that night, all of the men were together again. Everyone, including passenger Sloan, had miraculously survived the sinking.
As the broken Nottingham and her ruby treasure sank beneath the raging waves, the men knelt down to pray, thankful that they had made it this far.
On January 5, 1711, the weather calmed enough for Captain Dean and the remaining crew, who had managed to stay alive, to be saved. They had spent nearly a month without fresh water, little food, and no fire in the blistering cold upon the barren hunk of Boon Island.
Their skin was drawn and chafed, their eyes dry and bulging, their bodies walking skeletons, but they were still alive. They all recovered their health, though most lost the full use of their once-frozen limbs.
So, somewhere near Boon Island off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, there is the scattered wreckage of the Nottingham, as well as an iron safe containing a fortune in rare rubies waiting for some lucky person to find them.
Readers of treasure-hunting stories may be surprised to learn that the ruins of desert towns in the West pale compared to the ghost towns of New England regarding the number of abandoned dwellings and farm sites. The ruins of New England’s 18th and 19th-century agrarian prosperity are 150 to 200 years old, some even older.
Hunters, fishermen, backpackers, and campers who visit New Hampshire are often puzzled when they find a well-constructed stone fence in the heart of a dense forest. Built like a smaller version of the Great Wall of China, this pre-Revolutionary Yankee invention once surrounded hundreds of acres of pastureland. It is almost impossible for the visitor to visualize cattle and sheep grazing in what has now become tangled underbrush or a dense evergreen forest. In New England, there are hundreds of miles of stone fences, which is not a rare sight.
A stone foundation, the ruins of a barn, a spring house, and a well are usually easy to find after a few minutes of searching.
Believe it or not, there may be as many as 5000 of these abandoned sites in Maine, New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts. There are hundreds more in remote places that have never been found because wild plants so well hide them.
There was a bottle dump at every one of these places of former human habitation. A few have been located, some fabulous finds of blown bottles have been recovered, and many artifacts of pioneer days have been found. The surface has only been scratched.
People who have never been to the land of maple syrup, baked beans, and codfish cakes may find it hard to believe that so many abandoned farms and old homes could be in the middle of a heavily populated area.
It is indeed a fact. Near any town in the northernmost states of New England, like Vermont and New Hampshire, there are a dozen of these places. A diligent search will always produce one of the older ones.
The Mother Worcester cache of gold coins is believed to be hidden or buried in a cave near Compton in Grafton County. Perhaps the historical society in Lebanon can help with this one. Their address is Lebanon Historical Society, 1 Campbell Street, Lebanon, NH 03766.
For anyone who cares to get into the rock-hounding part of treasure hunting, this location near Berlin, in Coos County, should be of interest. Jasper Cave is on the east side of Dead River, about halfway up a 400-foot bluff.
The cave, about 14 feet long, 9 feet high, and 6 feet wide, was discovered in 1859 by William Sanborn. It received its name from a large amount of jasper formerly found here, known to have been mined by the Indians and used to fashion arrowheads and other parts of weapons. The cave is most likely a mine they created to obtain the raw material.
The vein varies in thickness from 2 inches to several feet. It is thought to have formed due to a volcanic upheaval before the Ice Age, when glaciers tore out Jericho Gap, exposing the sheer sides of Mounts Forest and Jasper. This jasper deposit is in a nearly vertical vein.
Other deposits of jasper are almost certainly in the area.
Another rock hound site is Gilsum, in Cheshire County. Here and in the surrounding area, tourmaline, quartz, and small quantities of beryl are to be found.
At Hillsborough, at the site of the old Lottery Bridge, there is thought to be a secret cave located nearby. It is believed that counterfeiters operated in this cave and that the plates these bogus moneymakers used were hidden in the cave or nearby.
Mean and greedy are the best words to describe Captain Sandy Gordon, a pirate who buried a huge treasure sometime between 1715 and 1718 on White Island. This island is one of nine small outcroppings of rock that comprise the Isles of Shoals, lying about ten miles off Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
A Scotsman by birth, Gordon went to sea while still a boy. He first appeared in history as a ship’s carpenter aboard the porpoise, an armed merchantman commanded by Captain John Herring. The goal was to catch Algerian pirates causing trouble for British ships near the Barbary Coast.
Even though it was very unusual, Captain Herring chose to bring his beautiful 18-year-old daughter Martha on this mission instead of leaving her at home alone.
The porpoise was not more than four days out of London when the husky young Gordon began to make serious advances toward the golden-haired young maiden. Captain Herring soon caught wind of this and told Gordon to back off or face the venom of the cat-o’-nine-tails.
The young ship’s carpenter heeded this warning for a few days, but Martha’s beauty attracted him like a powerful magnet. Herring didn’t wait long to trap Gordon and the girl alone in the captain’s cabin.
The father was furious. He grabbed the young sailor by the throat and threw him onto the deck, where he was given 72 lashes on his bare back. He was also put in irons and put on the ship’s hold for 30 days so he could think about what he had done.
When he finally returned to duty, Sandy went about his appointed tasks quietly and diligently, but this was only on the surface. Clandestinely, he was plotting a bold mutiny with certain unsavory members of the crew.
The conspiracy was ripe as soon as most hands were ready to challenge Captain Herring.
Gordon selected a night when he was on watch. The mutineers seized control of the porpoise with a shot from Gordon’s pistol, overwhelming Captain Herring and the loyal crew members. The surprised master was hauled from his cabin and bound to a gun.
The punishment that Captain Herring had so recently meted out to Sandy was all too indelible in the young sailor’s mind. Seizing a lash, he evened the score then and there with seventy-two strokes upon the master’s back. After several such beatings spaced one hour apart, the captain finally died, and Gordon threw his body overboard.
At this point, Sandy locked Martha in the captain’s cabin and forbade anyone to approach her. He gave everyone on board a choice: turn pirate or be thrown overboard. The choice was easy to make. It was at this time that Gordon showed his greedy nature. His policy on this pirate ship was that there would be no division of plunder, as was the custom among buccaneers.
All profits would be his. One slight concession was that the men would be paid 25 percent higher wages than those on merchant ships.
Under the Jolly Roger, the ship sailed off the coast of Scotland for some time, capturing several valuable prizes. However, the crew grew exasperated with Gordon’s reaping all the profits while they risked life and limb. So it was not unexpected when they rebelled against Gordon.
As a result, the pirates set Sandy and Martha adrift in a small boat and let them row for the Scottish coast. The two managed to find an old farmhouse as their home in a desolate coastal area.
At that time, the rascally Captain Edward Teach, called Blackbeard, Thatch, Tinch, or Drummond, and a small party visited this lonely shore in search of water, food, and liquor. When Teach came across Gordon’s humble home, Gordon didn’t have much to offer other than exciting stories about his skills as an adventurer and former pirate.
“Come aboard my ship,” said Teach, “and I’ll see how good a pirate you are. If you are as good as your boasting, I’ll see you outfitted, and maybe we can do business together.”
Soon after Gordon got on board, the pirates saw an East Indian ship full of valuable goods heading back to London. Harold T. Wilkins, in “Pirate Treasure,” relates that the merchant ship put up a furious defense.
Gordon fought like a wild beast with a dagger and pistol until the merchantman’s deck was clear of defenders. When the prize was finally secured, Teach slapped Gordon on the back and announced, “Good work, lad. By your bravery today, you’ve shown that you deserve to be the skipper of this prize. But mind you; all loot will be shared with the crew.”
So, Gordon changed the ship’s name to the Flying Scot and set sail with Teach for the Spanish Main. This cruise was highly successful, with both ships well-loaded with plunder. Ultimately, the two ships went their separate ways but agreed to meet again in the Isles of Shoals near Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
After making this deal, Gordon sailed back to Scotland and dropped an anchor near his farmhouse on the coast. He went ashore in a small boat and returned to his ship in the darkness of that night with the beautiful Martha in his arms. She was bound hand and foot, a very unwilling passenger for the long voyage to America.
On the cruise to America, the Flying Scot sighted a great Spanish galleon and gave chase. As the pirates drew near, the Spaniard let go with a broadside that was inaccurate enough to cause little damage. Meanwhile, the Flying Scot lived up to her name and pulled alongside the Spaniard. Grappling hooks were thrown to link the ships together, and then the buccaneers swarmed aboard their victim like a host of angry hornets.
Gordon played it safe and stood on his quarterdeck until his men had the situation well in hand. Now the time had come for him to leap aboard the merchantman and take the Spanish captain as his prisoner. He might have hoped that some of the more annoying people on his crew wouldn’t make it through the attack. The galleon’s captain was very stubborn, but after some very strong persuasion, he told the pirates how much treasure was on board and where it was hidden. He was then thrown overboard.
The historical writer Charles B. Driscoll, in “Doubloons,” that a careful check of the treasure showed that Sandy Gordon was indeed a wealthy man. He took more than a million dollars worth of gold and silver from the Spanish vessel.
The Flying Scot arrived at the Isles of Shoals several weeks before Captain Teach. Landing at Star Island, Gordon ordered a division of the treasure to be made. When this was accomplished, the crew broke into several small groups to bury their loot.
The noted New England historian, Samuel Adams Drake, had this to say of these pirates: “A short life and a merry one was the careless motto of these wild rovers of the main. What had they to fear? A colony law indeed forbade the harboring of pirates.
But the islanders were scarcely less lawless than the freebooters themselves; they considered themselves beyond the arm of the law and were, in turn, looked upon as a people apart from the body politic. No one would have betrayed the presence of those who scattered gold so freely among them. Like the ancient Greeks, the name of pirate had no terrors for these rude islanders.”
What of Captain Gordon and the fair Martha? They took up residence a short distance away on White Island. Sandy had a small cottage built for them there, and it was near the cottage where he buried his treasure.
How much did he bury? This is anyone’s guess, but most authorities agree that it was of considerable value.
In time, Captain Teach arrived on the scene, and more treasure was buried. Teach is alleged to have cached as much as $300,000 on Star Island. Both he and Gordon held several conferences at this time, and when it was amicably agreed to dissolve their partnership, Teach took off for the Spanish Main.
A week later, a lookout spotted a sail on the horizon. The lure of more booty was great, so Gordon hastily assembled the crew and lifted anchor. The strange ship turned out to be a British man-of-war on a hunt for pirates.
A long and fierce conflict followed, in which the British ship finally silenced Gordon’s guns. For the last part of the battle, the ships were stuck together. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion, and pieces of both ships fell into the water.
Sandy Gordon knew that if he were caught alive, he would be used as bait for the gallows, so he fired the Flying Scot’s magazine, killing himself and his men for all time.
Remember that Sandy Gordon’s huge treasure is waiting patiently to be found.
The Isles of Shoals, nine small islands ten miles off the coast of New Hampshire, still hold some of the treasure stolen by Captain John Quelch.
How much of Quelch’s treasure is buried on the Isles of Shoals is open to conjecture. Life Magazine, in 1950, stated that $100,000 was buried there, about half of which has been recovered. In “1001 Lost, Buried, or Sunken Treasures,” the authoritative F. L. Coffman said that Quelch’s crew secreted $275,000 on Star Island and established several other caches on White Island.
Originally a pirate hunter, John Quelch turned pirate when the opportunity presented itself. In July of 1703, he joined the brigantine Charles of Boston, which was set up as a privateer to fight the French in the waters of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The captain of the boat was a man named Daniel Plowman.
But Captain Plowman didn’t like the people he hired to work on the 80-ton ship that had just been built. To make matters worse, he was taken ill just before the ship was set to sail.
Anthony Holding, one of the crew’s ringleaders, assumed command. He locked the ailing captain in his cabin and ordered the ship out to sea. Once underway, the crew chose John Quelch to be the captain, probably because he had the most knowledge of navigation.
Instead of sailing northeast to battle the French ships, the Charles now set a course to the south on a search for plunder in the Caribbean and the Spanish Main. After Quelch took over as captain, Captain Plowman was thrown overboard. It is not known if he is dead or alive.
During the next three months, Quelch made nine captures: five brigantines, a small sloop, two fishing boats, and a ship of about two hundred tons. The people who lived under the King of Portugal, now an ally of the Queen of England, owned these ships.
Quelch stole a hundred pounds of gold dust, over a thousand pounds in gold and silver coins, ammunition, small arms, and a plethora of delicate fabrics, provisions, and rum from these ships. By attacking these ships, Quetch became a pirate, and the English Navy was on the watch for him.
Quelch arrived back in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where he was eventually arrested. But between the time he arrived and when he was caught, he and some of his crew could get to Star Island and White Island, where they buried a lot of money they had gotten in the Caribbean.
Quelch was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging. On June 30, 1704, he was hung at the foot of Fleet Street in Boston, Massachusetts.