“The End of the Lutine”

“The end of HMS Lutine; its lost bullion,
its saved bell and Lloyd’s”

by Martin Hendriksma

picture of the sailing vessel the Lutine in heavy seasLate 1799 Europe was in turmoil. There was a financial crisis comparable to the 2008 one. The economy in Hamburg was on the brink of collapse. City of London bankers managed to collect a vast sum of gold and silver, £ 1.4 million, today £ 103 million, from the Bank of England to rescue the situation. The British Government allocated Royal Navy ship HMS Lutine to transfer this vast sum and heavy load to this German port as fast as possible. Lloyds’ underwriters insured the highly valuable cargo.

photo of the pedestal with the Lutine bell in the Lloyd's Insurance buildingSailing from Yarmouth it wrecked on 9 October 1799 near the coast of Terschelling in foul weather. Lloyd’s had to pay out in full. Nobody knows how much because the great fire that destroyed the Royal Exchange in the year of 1838 also destroyed Lloyds’ Lutine papers. Lloyds paid the British merchants only three weeks after the disaster, so the Lutine became a symbol of the reliability of Lloyd’s.

The treasure became a part of a myth. There have been many explanations for the ship being off course. Since that time its gold has been stimulating the imagination of many professional and not so professional salvation workers. Notwithstanding many rescue attempts, the shipwreck and a large part of the treasure, remain at the bottom of the sea until this day. The Lutine bell was recovered and transferred to Lloyds to play its macabre role until 1981.

photo of the author Martin Hendriksma who will speak on the LutineMartin Hendriksma, the author of ‘Lutine’, will join us for a presentation about his book. It unravels the story of the Netherlands’ most mysterious ship disaster in the history. The writer searched extensively through Lloyds’ and other archives. He talked to descendants of authors from the 19th and 20th century, treasure hunters and sailors. He will tell us about cranky seadogs, political issues and obviously all that irresistible gold! His conclusions will be surprising.


On a Thursday evening in early February at a Central London location.