A little over a century ago, when pirates roamed over the seas between the southern states and the Spanish main, the brig “Nancy” was pursued by the British warship “Sparrow.” She was suspected of being engaged in illicit trade and piracy, but when captured, not a scrap of incriminating evidence could be found among her papers. It was thought that she would have to be released, but the question was referred to the authorities at Kingston, Jamaica, into which port she was brought.
Meanwhile another vessel (Ferret, Lieutenant Michael Fitton) a tender of the British frigate “Abergavenney,” had been cruising the same waters off the coast of Haiti. He harpooned a shark, and found a parcel of papers tied around with string.
These papers (Which are still on display in the Institute Museum of Jamaica) were found to relate to the doings of a ship called the “Nancy” and thinking they might serve an useful purpose, the officer (Lieutenant Michael Fitton?) preserved them till they reached Kingston, which was the next port of call, arriving there just as the case of the “Nancy” came before the courts.
The consternation of the “Nancy” captain and crew may be imagined, when, jubilant at the prospect of release, they were suddenly confronted with the misdeeds—in the papers which they had thrown overboard when pursued by the warship, and which they thought were buried in the depths of the sea! —H.P.Barker
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