Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/295

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

the caves of Lundy. He excused himself for not fulfilling his compact to transport the convicts to Virginia and Maryland by saying that he considered Lundy to be quite as much out of the world as these colonies. As the fieri facias did not realize the sum of his fine, an extent was issued in 1753 for £7872 duties, under which his patrimonial estate of Napp was seized, and retained during his life by the Government.

"The most villainous transaction, however, in which he was implicated was the conspiracy to defraud the insurance offices, by lading a vessel with a valuable cargo of pewter, linen, and salt, which he heavily insured. The vessel sailed for Maryland, but by a secret arrangement between the Master and Benson, put back in the night and landed the greater part of the cargo at Lundy, where Benson had repaired, concealing it in the caves there; and then the Master, Lancey, put to sea, and burnt and scuttled his vessel, some leagues to the westward, the crew being taken off by a homeward-bound vessel. The roguery was, however, discovered by the confession of one of the crew. Lancey was apprehended with some of his shipmates, seized and condemned, hung at Execution Dock and afterwards in chains. Benson escaped to Portugal; he is said, however, to have returned to Napp incognito for a time, some years afterwards, when the affair was nearly forgotten, but ultimately returned to Portugal, and died there." I quote from a manuscript journal of a visit to Lundy by a friend of Benson's some particulars of the island and of Benson himself at this time.

"In the month of July, 1752, I sailed from Appledore on a Monday morning with Sir Thomas Gunstone in a little vessel bound to Wales which dropped us at Lundy road. We came from Benson's house, of Napp, who rented the island of the Lords Carteret and