In 1753 his luck was over. He signed a contract with Swindle McSue to deliver a chest full of horse radish to Jamaica. Three weeks later his ship sunk along with the chest before reaching Jamaica. It was sabotaged by Swindle. When Hugh returned to Scotland he found out that his contract had some small print letters that his failing sight didn't allow him to see. The term in small letters said that if Hugh failed to deliver the chest to Jamaica all of his belongings would go to Swindle. Hugh kept just his clothes, his silver watch in his pocket and his golden dentures in his mouth. Swindle wanted them too but Hugh escaped.
The only thing known about his later life is that he died in 1776. It is presumed he was involved in the Anglo-American War. His descendants include the brothers Quagmire McDuck who inherited the silver watch, known by then as "the heirloom watch", and Dingus McDuck.
According to Don Rosa, Seafoam McDuck and Hugh McDuck are the same character; "Seafoam" is just a nickname.