THE ‘‘GREAT SANCY”
ACCORDING to Mr. Streeter, “this is the very Sphinx of diamonds “;for its history “seems to be wrapped up in a dense cloud of mystery.” By some writers this gem, which weighs 53 1/2 carats, has been confounded with one of only 34 carats in the Prussian Royal Treasury, known as the “Little Sancy.” The name originated from the circumstance of the gem having been brought from the East by Nicholas Harlai, Seigneur de Sancy, about the year I570. “Harlai was attached to the Courts of Henry III and Henry IV, having been ambassador for the former in Turkey, for the latter in England during the reign of Elizabeth.” Of the romantic story of the loss of the diamond referred to in the lecture we subjoin the version given in “Great Diamonds”: — “Henry IV of Navarre, being desirous of strengthening his army by a body of Swiss recruits, is reported to have borrowed the diamond of Nicholas, now superintendent of finance, intending to raise money on its security.
But the messenger charged with the. responsibility of conveying the gem either to the king from Harlai, or from the king to the Swiss (for the story is here somewhat confused), disappeared on the way. A long interval elapsed before it became known that he had been waylaid and assassinated.
Full of confidence in the loyalty and inventive faculty of his servant, Harlai proceeded to the forest where the murder had been committed. After a long search the body was found, disinterred, and opened. In the stomach was found the diamond, which, as suspected by his master, the faithful valet had swallowed to prevent its falling into the hands of the thieves.”
Somewhere between 1590 and 1600 Harlai sold it to the British Crown.
Then there is good reason to believe that the Queen Dowager Henrietta Maria, when in exile, sent the “Sancy,” with other valuables, to Somerset, Earl of Worcester, “in return for the sacrifices he had made in the cause of the house of Stewart.” It passed into the hands of James II, who sold it to Louis XIV for f 25,000. Like the “Regent”, it disappeared in the French Revolution. About the year 1830 it was the property of a French merchant, and since then of the Russian Prince Demidoff, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, and the Maharajah of Puttiala, who wore it in his turban at a Grand Durbar when the Prince of Wales visited India. Mr. Streeter finishes up the interesting story of the “Sancy’s” vicissitudes by stating that owing to the death of the Maharajah the gem is once more on sale.