William Hamilton Gibbons joined Adventure on 11 February, 1772, at Deptford as an able bodied sailor (AB). He was discharged on 19 June while the ship was at Plymouth and awaiting the arrival of Resolution. However, he was re-entered on the muster on 25 June as AB at Plymouth.
Gibbons completed the voyage as an AB. Like many of Adventure’s men, he was not mentioned in the journals. Interestingly, J. C. Beaglehole did not include Gibbons in the muster he reproduced in the Hakluyt edition of the voyage.1
After the voyage, Gibbons appears to have left the Royal Navy. He obtained a commission as a lieutenant in the Marines in 1776. It is not known how an able seaman in Adventure in 1774 was able to purchase a lieutenant’s commission in the Royal Marines in 1776. He was promoted to a captain in the Marines in 1781 and, in 1782, was serving as such in HMS Sultan. Gibbons was among the many men wounded during the Second Battle of Negapatam, off India’s east coast, which was fought between a British fleet and a French fleet. “The following is a statement of the killed and wounded in the british squadron on the 6th of July, 1782, with the names of the officers of marines on board the respective ships... Sultan, 74 guns, captain James Watts, 16 killed, 21 wounded. Captain William Hamilton Gibbons, lieutenant Richard Williams (wounded)”.2 Lieutenant Joseph Lambrecht, younger brother of John James Lambrecht who had sailed with Gibbons in Adventure, was wounded in the same battle while serving in HMS Eagle.3
Gibbons was promoted to major in the marines. He married Sarah Lyndsay Vennables from Chester in 1796. The Monthly Magazine recorded the event in June 1796. “William Hamilton Gibbons, major of marines, to Miss Vennables, of Chester”.4
Sadly, Sarah died in December 1800, having just given birth to a son, William, who also died. Gibbons himself died the next year, and was buried on 29 October, 1801, at Lydd, aged 47. The inscription on the memorial in the churchyard of All Saints, Lydd, Kent, reads “Sarah Lyndsay wife of Major William Hamilton GIBBONS, Barrack Master of Dungeness d. 1 Dec. 1800 aged 33. Their infant William Hamilton who reposes in the arms of his Mother was born the 27th and Died the 30 Nov. The above Wm. Hamilton Gibbons d. 24 Oct. 1801 aged 47”.5
It is not known when Gibbons became Barrack Master of Dungeness, but he left the post in 1799, as recorded on another memorial in the same churchyard. “Capt. Samuel FINN of Dengemarsh and later of Westbroke in this parish held H.M. Commission as Barrack Master of Dungeness from 1799 succeeding Major W. Hamilton Gibbons”.
Gibbons died one week after the death of Thomas Edgar on 17 October. He had been Master of Discovery during Cook’s Third Voyage. Edgar was also buried in the same graveyard.
Many details about William Hamilton Gibbons remain unknown. He may possibly have been the William Gibbons baptised at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on 17 November, 1754, the son of John and Mary Gibbons. John Gibbons was listed as being a shipwright.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 12, volume 47, number 1 (2024).
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