A CHRONOLOGY OF THE OAK ISLAND TREASURE OF SIR WILLIAM PHIPS
A detailed account of the various treasure-seeking activities upon Oak Island, since signs were first discovered in 1795 that underground workings existed beneath the island, has been given in Oak Island and its Lost Treasure. A consideration of the many technical factors arising from this work enabled the following conclusions to be drawn:
(1) The major features of the underground workings, namely the Money Pit and the Flood Tunnel were excavated by two separate groups decades apart.
(2) The bottom of the Money Pit was subject to a catastrophic implosion, or ‘blow out’, likely caused through pumping, or dewatering, during treasure recovery by the original diggers. This implies that whatever was consigned to the imagined security of the depths was irretrievably lost and, what is more important, remains to be recovered.
(3) The intended purpose of the Flood Tunnel was to ensure the lower levels of the Money Pit were flooded for perpetuity.
(4) The excavation of the Money Pit was a simple affair requiring few skills, and could have been excavated in a matter of a few months. The excavation of the Flood Tunnel, on the other hand, was a sophisticated enterprise requiring skilled miners, elaborate ventilation techniques, accurate surveying and a multitude of support activities over a considerably longer period.
The excavation of the Money Pit has been linked to the activities of Sir William Phips (1651-95), and that of the Flood Tunnel to the British military in the period 1752-54, a period contemporary with the founding of nearby Lunenburg. This chronology has been compiled from available evidence, and places the salient events of the lost treasure of Oak Island in an historical perspective.
Confirmatory evidence, regarding the lost treasure of Sir William Phips, will likely be found in classified documents of the British Government presently unavailable.
1651 (Feb) – Birth of William Phips at a place now known as Phipp’s Point, near Woolwich, Maine. He becomes a ship’s carpenter. Voyaging in the Caribbean he hears of a fabulous wreck that had sunk in 1641 and is determined to find it. The wreck subsequently proves to be that of the Concepci?.
1683 (Sep 4) – Phips sails from England on his first voyage of discovery on the Rose of Algeree given him by King Charles II. The voyage is a failure, and he is faced with at least two mutinies which he puts down in a determined fashion.
1685 (Jul) – Return of the Rose to England. A minor amount of treasure was recovered from a wreck off New Providence, but insufficient to pay for the repairs of the ship. Phips is held temporarily in the Tower of London by the new king (James II).
1686 (April/May) – Phips is introduced to Christopher Monck (2nd Duke of Albemarle). A gambler at heart the duke arranges a consortium of investors to finance a second voyage.
1686 (Sep 12) – Phips sails on the James and Mary with the Henry (under Francis Rogers) in attendance. They arrive off the coast of Hispaniola in December, and spend the next few weeks trading along the coast.
1687 (Jan) – Phips dispatches the Henry to undertake a search. The James and Mary remains in Puerto Plata.
1687 (Jan 19) – The Henry finds the reef. The wreck is discovered the following day and silver begins to be recovered.
1687 (Feb 7) – The Henry returns with the good news to Puerto Plata.
1687 (Feb 22) – Phips arrives at the reef and 25 tons of treasure, mainly silver, is recovered over the
1687 (Apr 19) – Phips weighs anchor at the wreck and sails for England with a consignment of treasure consisting mainly of silver bullion weighing 68,515 lbs, and later valued at ?206,773 (probably about $10 million or more in today?s currency).
1687 (Jun 6) – Phips arrives in England.
1687 (Jun 28) – Phips is knighted by King James at Windsor Castle.
1687 (June/Jul) – A return expedition is planned. During this period Lord Mordaunt, a confidante of William, Prince of Orange (an adversary of King James), sows the idea of recovering the remainder of the treasure and, thereby, financing the invasion of England to unseat King James.
1687 (Sep 12) – A flotilla of vessels sails from Portsmouth for the wreck. They include HMS Foresight (Sir John Narbrough), the Good Luck (William Phips), the Princess, the James and Mary and the Henry. In addition is HMS Assistance (to take the Duke and Duchess of Albemarle to Jamaica) and the Boy Huzzar (the duke?s yacht).
1687 (Dec 15) – The flotilla arrive at Saman?Bay, Hispaniola, and a few days later reach the wreck site.
1688 (Feb 19) – Lord Mordaunt arrives at the wreck site with four men-o?-war and support vessels.
1688 (Apr/May) – Fever strikes the wreck site. Many die, but the crew of the Good Luck is unaffected. Narbrough dies May 27th and is buried at sea.
1688 (May 8) – Phips in the Good Luck sails alone from the wreck. Lord Mordaunt and his men-o?- war sail the same day. When the rest of the flotilla return to England they take little treasure with them, but many excuses as to why they met with no success.
1688 (Jun 1) – Phips arrives in Boston. He squabbles with the governor, Edmund Andros.
1688 (Jun) – Mordaunt returns to Holland, and plans are immediately laid for the invasion of England. It may be presumed that since William?s war-chest was bare, and the invasion force comprised over six hundred vessels (including fifty men-o?-war) and forty thousand men, Mordaunt had not returned to Holland empty handed! It would have been prudent for him to return with all the gold and silver bullion that could be turned into ready cash to help finance the invasion. This would have left Phips with the gemstones, plate, and Chinese trade goods carried by the Concepci?. It should be noted that the Concepci? broke apart when it foundered on the reef, and since Phips recovered silver from his first visit to the wreck that he discovered only the bow section. The stern was the target of the return visit, as within would have reposed the more valuable cargo – gold bullion, plate and gemstones.
1688 (Jul 16) – Phips sails from Boston.
1688 (Aug 17) – Phips arrives in England – or is said to arrive in England. He immediately disappears and there is no mention of him until the following February. The excavation of the Money Pit on Oak Island, which is estimated as requiring no more than four to five months to excavate, is surmised as having taken place during this period. In the interval momentous political events take place.
1688 (Nov 6) – William?s forces land at Torbay, Devon, and soon strike inland. With general acclaim from the inhabitants of England William?s army reaches London by Christmas scarcely having fired a shot. The English army and navy immediately ally themselves with the forces of William in what has become known as the ?Glorious Revolution?, the only revolution of such magnitude to have been bloodless. The loyalty of the English military to James has often been questioned by historians, especially that of the navy. James and his cronies take flight but are apprehended.
1688/89 (Dec/Jan) – The Money Pit is complete, and Phips and the crew of the Good Luck sail for England to find the revolution has not only taken place but has been successfully concluded.
1689 (Mar/Apr) – Lord Mordaunt is heaped with numerous honours from the new King William. One of these is the post of Lord of the Treasury. This was a peculiar award as Mordaunt was a man renowned for his lack of financial acumen in the handling of his own affairs, but an appointment understandable in he having brought to the cause of revolution the means by which it could be mounted.
1689 (Apr 29) – Phips returns to Boston and immediately takes charge of the frigate Six Friends. He returns to Oak Island to recover the treasure that had been consigned to the imagined security of the depths. The recovery meets with disaster in the form of a ?blow out?, the evidence of which was first reported by Blair in his treasure-seeking attempt of 1931, but the geological significance of which was not appreciated until 1994.
1689 (June) – Mordaunt falls from grace.
1690 (May) – Phips attacks and captures Port Royal (Annapolis).
1690 (Oct) – Phips attacks Quebec. He fails to capture the city, and this reverse has been interpreted by historians as a humiliation. However, against the backdrop of the loss of the treasure the failure can be seen as a masterful stroke of strategy as it laid the mainland of Nova Scotia open to British occupation without it becoming a battlefield in the ongoing hostilities with France. For the next seven years, until the territory was handed back to France by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, the British could come and go as they pleased.
1690-97 – This interval must have witnessed several attempts to recover the lost treasure of Sir William Phips. All may be deduced as having failed abysmally, as only recently has an understanding been gained of the unique geological circumstances which led to the loss of the treasure.
1695 (Feb 18) – Phips dies in London, and is buried on the 21st.
1713 – The mainland of Nova Scotia is granted to Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht.
1750 (Nov) – Documents relating to William Phips (fifty-five years after his death) are assembled by the British Government in London. These documents were discovered in files pertaining to the proposed settlement of Lunenburg, only ten miles distant from Oak Island. Why would anyone in government be interested in the activities of Phips so long after his death? The loss of a vast treasure so close to the new settlement would certainly justify that interest.
1752-54 – Excavation of the renowned Flood Tunnel and its ancillary works by military engineers.
1795 – The legendary discovery of the signs that underground workings existed beneath Oak Island.
1795 to present – Numerous abortive attempts to recovery the Oak Island treasure, all of which are referenced in the Oak Island lit