Jacques Francis (c.1527 – ? )

Some historians believe Francis was from Arguin Island, Mauritania.

  • Francis was likely born around 1527 and although he is known to be of African descent the exact area is unknown. Some historians believe he was from Arguin Island, Mauritania.
  • Records describe him as a very talented “Guinea diver”. He had been bought over to England in 1546 by Piero Corsi to salvage the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s ship that was full of expensive weapons and had sunk off the coast of Southampton.
  • Francis and his team were given the task of diving deep down into the sea and salvaging valuables from the ship. Francis was likely paid well for the job.
  • During this expedition, Corsi was accused another of the divers of theft and Francis was called to court to give evidence as a witness. It is these court records that have left a record of his existence in England.

The remnants of the Mary Rose undergoing conservation in Portsmouth in 2020.