The Virgin Islands has every reason to celebrate Treasure Island Day for it was here on Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands that the treasure was buried on November 13, 1750. The treasure had been stolen from a Spanish galleon at Ocracoke, North Carolina, by Owen Lloyd and his one-legged brother, John. Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born on November 13, 1850, would write a classic, albeit fictional, tale of returning to this island to recover the treasure.
Norman Island, the Real Treasure Island
Norman Island today carries names that are reminiscent of a nautical past if not in memory of Owen Lloyd’s visit. There is Money Bay on the south side, Man-of-War and Privateer Bays on the west end. Treasure Point guards the entrance to Man-of-War Bay. There is Soldier Bay on the north side and along the shore in Benures Bay on the north side is a large depression that may have once contained treasure or was did later by someone looking for it.
The locals of the British Virgin Islands swear that Norman Island is the real Treasure Island. A restaurant was built on the island in 1998 and was called “Billy Bones” after the Treasure Island character. Today its called “Pirates.”
Man-of-War Bay is also known as the Bight and is the most popular anchorage in the Virgin Islands
As soon as the treasure was buried on Norman Island it was discovered by a man from Tortola. At Norman Island he had found three men marooned by Owen Lloyd who confessed to having some treasure. When word was received at Tortola, the seat of British rule in the Virgin Islands, the residents and their slaves scoured “Treasure Island” and apparently recovered all of the money. After Owen Lloyd was captured at St. Eustatius, he was taken back to Norman Island to assist in locating what was believed to be still buried but Lloyd, under threat of death, failed to locate any additional silver.
In the spring of 1751, John Watson, attorney for Captain Juan Manuel Bonilla came to Tortola and secured additional silver from the inhabitants. Lieutenant General Gilbert Fleming received 1,100£ out of the recovered treasure for his efforts.
When Owen Lloyd left Norman Island he fled to St. Thomas. He struck a deal with the Danish governor to become a citizen of the island if he returned with his wife. Owen rented a sloop after abandoning the Seaflower in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie and proceeded to St. Croix.
Owen Lloyd was captured at St. Eustatius and sentenced to hang. With the help of family at St. Kitts he bribed his guards and made his escape. In February of 1751, he returned to St. Thomas with his wife Christian and they were made citizens. English officials in the Caribbean demanded that he be surrendered but the Danish governor refused.
Records show that by the end of 1752, Owen Lloyd was dead at the age of thirty-five. His wife remarried an important officer with the regiment at St. Thomas.
St. John had only a minor roll. Owen Lloyd landed here to take on supplies before he proceeded to Norman Island. When Lloyd fled St. Thomas, records indicate that Enoch Collins went to St. John before going back home.
St. Croix lies forty miles south of St. Thomas. When Owen Lloyd fled St. Thomas he had some treasure with him. Records show that he purchased a schooner while there and recorded timelines suggest he spent several days there. It was also recorded that he paid Governor Christian Suhm at St. Thomas for his protection. St. Croix would be a likely place to bank some of his money while holed up at St. Thomas. It can be inferred that his money must have run out by the end of 1752. Church records of St. Thomas record his premature death at age thirty five. The church records failed to record his burial which points to the island of St. Croix as not only the location of his grave but where he most likely hid some of his treasure.