Legend claims that around the year 1714 a Spanish nobleman, Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla took a special treasure from Northern Spain and hid it on the other side of the world. A Spanish galleon carrying treasure of gold bullion, silver ingots and rumoured to hold the treasure from Enoch's Vault from the Temple of Jerusalem, landed at Robinson Crusoe island (Mas a Tierra), part of the archipelago of Juan Fernandez off the Chilean coast in the Pacific, in 1715.
Ubilla was a member of the Spanish Military Order known as the Knights of Santiago. It is claimed that the Santiago Knights became the guardians of the Temple treasure (the Holy Grail?) after it was placed in their custody by the Templars who were fleeing from the persecution of King Philip IV of France in 1307.
The ship's Captain-General Ubilla is said to have buried the treasure in a cave on this island. Ubilla died shortly after when a hurricane off the coast of Florida drove his ship onto a reef and he drowned along with over a thousand men of his fleet. Fortunately Ubilla is said to have transmitted directional details and a map to the English Royal Society before his death. A British expedition was then sent out to recover the treasure, known as the Treasure of Lord George Anson, or Anson's Gold.
|Admiral Lord George Anson|
Webb sailed to Valparaiso, Chile to repair his ship but uncovered a plot in which the crew were planning to mutiny against him and take the treasure for themselves. He blew up the ship killing all hands on board and made his escape by rowing off in a small boat, being the sole survivor of the expedition. Webb sent two letters back to Anson telling him the location of the treasure but the Admiral died suddenly on 6th June 1762, some six months before the arrival of Webb's envoy and the documents were apparently lost. A third document was buried. Webb also died soon after and the whereabouts of the treasure remained a secret …..... until now.
Codes and Conspiracies
The Shepherd's Monument at the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire, now owned by the National Trust, had remained a mystery for nearly 300 years. The 10 letter cryptic inscription bearing the letters D-O-U-O-S-V-A-V-V-M has defied some of the world's greatest thinkers including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and even the code-breakers from Bletchley Park.
Over the years theories abounded including the suggestion that the inscription is a mysterious cipher used by the Knights Templar and their successors to point to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. Another explanation is that the inscription is simply a private affirmation of love.
The Shugborough sculpture, set within a stone arch contains a marble bas-relief copy of Nicolas Poussin’s 1637-38 painting “Et in Arcadia Ego” (or “The Shepherds of Arcadia”) with the addition of an enigmatic 10-letter inscription beneath it, was commissioned by Thomas Anson, paid for by his brother, Admiral George Anson, and designed by the Flemish sculptor Peter Scheemakers in 1740.
Poussin painted two versions of The Shepherds of Arcadia, the original is held in the Louvre, Paris, and his earlier version, painted in 1627, is held at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The painting shows a woman and three shepherds, two of whom are pointing to a tomb. On the tomb is carved the Latin text 'ET IN ARCADIA EGO' translated as “And in Arcadia I am…” interpreted as referring to the true secret of Rennes-le-Château.
|Et in Arcadia Ego II (Nicolas Poussin)|
The Key to the Grail?
The Anson's were said to have been to have been members of secret societies and in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982) Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh suggested that Poussin was a member of the Priory of Sion, a successor of the medieval Knights Templar, and that his Shepherds of Arcadia contained hidden meanings of great esoteric significance.
The Templars were famous for the capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. They become self-appointed guardians of the Temple of Jerusalem which they inhabited for some time, tunnelling underneath. The Crusades seem to be intimately linked to the Grail Romances of Arthurian legend that appeared around this time. Legend claims that the Templars were the guardians of relics recovered from the Holy Land, including the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.
Lincoln and co drew attention to a poem from Erdeswick's Survey of Staffordshire (1844) which was read in parliament in honour of his memory when Admiral George Anson died in 1762:
“Upon that storied marble cast thine eye
The scene commands a moralising sigh
E'en in Arcadia's bless'd Elysian plains
Amidst the laughing nymphs and sportive swains
See festal joy subside, with melting grace
And pity visit the half smiling face;
Where now the dance, the lute, the nuptial feast
The passion throbbing in the lover's breast
Life's emblem here, in youth and vernal bloom
But reason's finger pointing at the tomb!”
This stanza seems to relate unequivocally to the Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough.
|The Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough|
Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code (2003) cleverly weaved together many of these themes, particularly from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, asserting that the Grail was a Holy bloodline descending from Jesus.
Never slow to miss an opportunity for attracting attention and visitor numbers, the following year, the Shugborough Estate launched a promotional campaign asserting a connection between Shugborough, and in particular the Shepherd's Monument inscription, and the location of the Holy Grail.
A retired engineer from Weymouth, Edmunds previous book exposed the so-called Captain Kidd's Charts as a convincing hoax. Edmunds has studied Admiral Lord George Anson, second son of William Anson, of Shugborough, for the last ten years and claims the inscription on the Shepherd's Monument is linked to the treasure hidden by the Spanish Captain-General Ubilla. Without doubt, Lord Anson's large fortune was amassed from foreign gold.
Anson, one of Britain’s foremost admirals is favourably compared with Francis Drake after leading a fleet on a circumnavigation voyage in the 1740s, in which he captured the Spanish bullion ship Nuestra Señora de Cavadonga.
The Capture of the Spanish Galleon 'Nuestra Señora de Covadonga', 20 April 1743
(John Cleveley, the younger, 1756 - Shugborough Estate collection)
A month after England had declared war on Spain the highly regarded Anson was selected to lead an expedition to attack Spanish holdings in the Pacific Ocean. In September 1740 Anson's ships sailed from England under orders to raid and plunder the Pacific coast of South America, attacking Panama and with the intention of capturing the annual galleon which carried treasure and goods between Mexico and the Philippines. In 1741 Anson is known to have stopped off at Juan Fernandez in his ship HMS Centurion.
Anson succeeded in capturing the Manila treasure galleon 'Nuestra Señora de Covadonga' on its voyage from Acapulco in June 1743. The amount of treasure was enormous, said to value about £500,000. He arrived back at Portsmouth in June 1744, to receive wide acclaim and great personal wealth; no doubt some of the booty was used to enhance the Anson's ancestral home at Shugborough. It was around this time that the Shepherd's Monument was commissioned.
Edmunds argues that Anson’s elevated position as First Lord of the Admiralty during the Seven Years' War gave him access to state secrets from which he learnt of the Spanish treasure. In 1760 he launched a secret expedition to search for Ubilla's treasure but died before its recovery.
The Shepherd's Code
In his latest book 'Anson’s Gold and the Secrets to Captain Kidd’s Charts' Edmunds claims that decoding the Shepherd's Monument cipher proves Lord Anson's involvement in the search for the treasure explaining that this is why the Shepherd's Monument was constructed.
|George Edmunds at Shugborough|
Edmunds claims that the cipher contains the co-ordinates to the location of the Spanish treasure, consisting of more than 160 chests of gold, silver, and possibly even the relics from the Temple of Jerusalem, buried on a remote island in the south Pacific ocean, and he believes it is still there.
The trail for Ubilla's treasure goes cold after the death of Anson and Webb. However, in the 1950s an Italian Jorge di Giorgio heard about the Legend of Anson's Gold. He contacted a Chilean friend living in England named Tita Diaz who visited the Anson family home at Shugborough. Diaz is said to have found some old letters written in code in an old writing desk at Shugborough Hall.
Girogio could not make head nor tail of the letters but his mother Angelica Lyon was an expert in cryptograms and interpreted the letters as referring to the “Horseshoe Expedition” led by Captain Webb on the Unicorn, specifically sent by Lord Anson to the South Seas in 1760.
The letter states that, “adverse circumstances forced me [Webb] to bury the property of the crown in a new place and blow up the ship.” A piece of paper attached to this letter claimed it “arrived from Chile six months after my Lord [Anson] passed away.”
The second document referred to “the map of the bay 'Pascoy' with many lines; one indicating a point on the coast where the answer can be found.” Written in the corner, “This map arrived from Chile fifteen months after my Lord passed away.”
A third document refers to “Altitude Schuba I Depth Yellow Stone 1.”
Giorgio was convinced that the second document referred to the place the directional instructions for finding the treasure where hidden. He was convinced it was Horcon to the north of Quintero. Realising he needed more funds to carry out the exploration he formed a Company with his friend Louis Cousino.
Cousino went out at night to search the beaches of Horcon. He eventually found a box containing a document written in the same key as the Shugborough letters found by Diaz. Again Angela Lyon de-coded the text. It was written by Cornelius Webb Captain of the Unicorn, and only survivor of the Horseshoe Expedition. Webb detailed the treasure, consisting of 864 bags of gold, 200 bars of gold, 21 barrels of precious stones and jewels, a gilded trunk and 160 chests of gold and silver coins which he transferred, providing longitude and latitude, to a new hiding place, seemingly 15 feet below a great yellow stone.
Giorgio and Cousino assembled a team to carry out a search on Juan Fernandez island. After finding nothing they returned to the mainland empty handed in 1952. Forty years later a wealthy American named Bernard Keiser began a search of the island for the so-called Anson's Gold but after a seven year investigation also failed to find the treasure.
Keiser was looking in the wrong place, claims Edmunds, because he had made a fundamental translation error of the Latin in looking for the 'yellow rock' when this was in fact a reference to a significant star in a constellation for the second bearing. Edmunds and his then business partner offered to exchange information with Keiser but the American declined.
Edmunds believes that the so-called Anson's Gold will not be found on Juan Fernandez island, as the “horseshoe” (expedition) refers to another island in the Pacific where Webb relocated Ubilla's treasure; the co-ordinates given on the Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough.
by George Edmunds
Filament Publishing, 2016
The Story of Admiral Lord Anson's Treasure
* * *