Sunday, April 21, 2013

4/21/13 Report - Pirate Henry Jennings & Coprous Shipwreck Beach Finds

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

A Sample of Treasure Coast Cuprous
Shipwreck Beach Finds.
People who hunt the Treasure Coast most often think of Spanish galleons.  That's mostly what the Treasure Coast is known for, especially the 1715 Fleet.  But sometimes old shipwreck items are found on Treasure Coast beaches that do not seem to be Spanish, and that sometimes makes people wonder where they came from.

There are a number of  reasons you will find old items from other countries along the Treasure Coast.  Two very obvious reasons include the fact that Florida was not always a Spanish possession  (everybody knows that), and ships of other nations traveled the Florida Coast even while Florida was a Spanish possession (everybody knows that as well).  There are other reasons that I will mention in a little more detail today and in the near future.

The one that I'll address most directly today is piracy.  Of course piracy is not the greatest source of Treasure Coast finds that are not Spanish, but it is one source, and a very interesting one at that.

A couple of days ago I posted a link to a TV program about Ben Franklin's privateers.  There was a very famous privateer that worked some on the Treasure Coast.
First I should explain that there is a difference between a privateer and a pirate (sometimes).  Basically, privateers act as an agent of a nation, while pirates act under no national authority. 

The distinction can get blurred.  Privateers can easily become pirates when they see the opportunity or when their privateering work is done, and pirates might claim to be good friends of one specific nation or might claim patriotic motives for their actions.

Henry Jennings was an 18th century British privateer, who later did a little work as a pirate, including some work right here on our Treasure Coast. 

Jennings was a privateer during the Spanish War of Succession, but his first act of piracy is said to be a raid on a 1715 Fleet salvage camp that occurred in 1716.  The Spanish salvage effort of the 1715 Fleet was mostly complete by early 1716, but Jennings made several attacks on the Spanish salvage camps, including the main camp located near the McClarty museum and stole something like 350,000 pesos, eventually retiring as a wealthy plantation owner in Bermuda.

Jennings teamed up with Black Sam Bellamy for a while, but that relationship ended poorly, like many relationships between pirates.

If you want to read more about Jennings, here is a place to start.

The battles between Jennings and the Spanish salvagers undoubtedly resulted in some items of British and other origins being lost on the Treasure Coast, as did the actions of other pirates (some of whom I've mentioned before in this blog).  I'm sure there are musket balls and other items that were lost.

It was not uncommon for well-traveled opportunist of other nationalities to fish the Spanish wrecks along the Treasure Coast over the years. 

We also need to remember that the Spanish galleons were built and supplied with many products made in other countries.  Cannons used by the Spanish were sometimes made in other countries, as one of many examples.  Many items were imported, even back in those days.

The intermingling of goods from various sources had to become even greater the longer a vessel was in service.  So don't be surprised if you dig a British, French or Dutch item on a beach associated with a Spanish shipwreck.  It is always possible that such an item came from a Spanish shipwreck, so don't be too quick to think that an item is not from a Spanish galleon just because you think it doesn't look Spanish.

Also remember that there are colonial period wrecks from other nations intermingled with the Spanish shipwrecks along the Treasure Coast.

The photo above shows some miscellaneous cuprous shipwreck beach finds.  By cuprous, I mean to include copper, bronze and brass.  It can be hard to tell the difference. 

Among the more common shipwreck finds are connectors, such as spikes, nails, tacks and pins. Many connectors are made of iron, which often corrode worse than copper items, and might be more difficult to clean and preserve.

There are two copper pieces at the bottom left in the photo that are obviously not connectors.

With thousands of law enforcement personnel surrounding the area, it looked like the 19 year old terrorist slipped them all until a citizen reported his location.  There is no substitute for making use of the eyes of the population no matter if you are talking law enforcement of archaeology.   Too bad there isn't greater cooperation between archaeology and the population.  We'd see a boom-age revival of archaeology instead hard times.

I'll be posting a new poll in this blog soon.

After today the surf will increase a little on the Treasure Coast.  Today we are expecting around a 2 foot surf.  For the next few days it will be more like a 2 - 4 foot surf.  That isn't much increase, but it is enough to possibly freshen up some spots on the front of the beach.

The wind will be mostly from the east and east/northeast.

Low tide this morning is going to be after between 11 and 11:30.

Happy hunting,