Location: Penwith, Cornwall
Age / period: post medieval (possibly 1684)
List entry number: 1000076
Reason for designation: historical significance
Wreck history and loss
Remains of the wreck of a 17th century armed cargo vessel, thought to be identifiable with the English East Indiaman 'President', which stranded near Loe Bar in 1684.
The 'President' was homeward bound from India to London and contemporary records show that she carried an extremely valuable cargo of spices, indigo, drugs, Indian piece goods (ie textiles) and one hundred tons of pepper. Also listed were a small amount of diamonds and much 'Jewish Treasure of Pearl', though the latter may just be polished nacre. Historical evidence indicates that salvage took place soon after the wrecking.
Discovery and investigation
The site has been subject to much controversy, with contention between two local diving groups both claiming to be the initial discoverers of the wreck in 1998.
A contemporary account of the wrecking of the 'President' by one of the survivors gave descriptions of some topographical features that investigators believed can still be identified in the cliff overlooking the wreck site, which lies close to the low water mark.
The site contains the scattered and abraded remains of an unidentified 17th century vessel. The site clearly attracted attention because of treasure stories associated with the 'President' and was designated for protection against casual diving after reports of it containing 'treasure'. It is still designated as probably being the wreck of the 'President', a rare example of a 17th century ship and an East Indiaman, of which only one other, the 'Trial', has been investigated archaeologically.
The site lies at a depth of up to about 10-11m. It is in a rocky area with variable sand cover, lying only a few meters out from the low water mark. While iron objects are scattered over the site, smaller items may be covered by pockets of sand in the uneven rock. The surge from offshore swell is very apparent on the seabed and easily moves loose material. It is a very dynamic site which is a problem for preservation, and means objects can be mobile and as much as 3-4m of shingle overburden can cover the site.
The report of the discovery of the wreck was published in the diving press in 1998 with two tons of timber and 58 cannon reportedly being recovered.
Currently iron objects are scattered around the site, including ordnance and an anchor, and there is also an intrusive material that could be derived from a cargo of the ship; preliminary research shows its main constituent (47%) is manganese oxide.