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English Isle Offers Cannon Swap

April 12, 1985

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) _ Arms talks on a smaller scale are going on between Plymouth and officials of the Island of Guernsey, who are willing to build a replica of a historic cannon if the Massachusetts town returns the original.

The six-foot brass cannon, cast in the 16th century and called the ″Guernsey Falcon,″ was given to the town by the British government in 1920 for the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s voyage to America.

Since then, the cannon has adorned Burial Hill, the ancient town cemetery for some Pilgrims and their descendents.

″We need an agreement with your selectmen before we can proceed″ with a fundraising effort to pay for the creation of a replica cannon, wrote David LeConte, chairman of the Guernsey Ancient Monuments Committee.

LeConte came to Plymouth last July to plead his case in person. He climbed Burial Hill with the selectmen and told them he believed it had been sent by error and that its return would create much good will.

Plymouth Executive Secretary William Griffin said the Board of Selectmen is expected to discuss the Guernsey offer Tuesday.

The falcon, a type of cannon used from the 15th to 17th centuries, was cast by London gunfounder Thomas Owen in 1550, but never reached its destination, Castle Cornet on Guernsey.It was found in a British military museum by searchers for a suitable tercentenary gift in 1920.

The late Jack Hart, a Guernsey official, learned of the falcon’s existence from an old book and when he learned that it was in Plymouth, Hart termed the gift a ″ghastly mistake.″

Hart began writing to the late David Freeman, director of Plimoth Plantation until his death in 1975, setting up the possibility of a return.

″I suppose I will never see it,″ Hart said, ″although I have ensured that the people of Guernsey will never forget it.″

All the other falcons on the island were melted during World War II.

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