“In the Name of God Amen, I Francis Wilkinson belonging to his Majesty’s Bark the Endeavour, being of sound and disposing mind and memory do hereby make this my last Will and Testament.
First and Principally, I Commend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God, hoping for Remission of all my Sins through the Merits of Jesus Christ my blessed Saviour and Redeemer, and my body to the Earth of Sea as it shall please God.
And as for such Worldly Estate and Effects which I shall be Possessed of or intitled unto at the time of my decease, I give and bequeath the same as followeth, that is to say unto my beloved Friends Richard and Susannah Durham of the Parish of St Paul’s Deptford in the County of Kent, Victualler, all and singular my Goods, Chattels, Wages, Sum and Sums of Money that now is due to me from the said Ship, or may hereafter be due to me from any other Ship or Service whatsoever.
And I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my said beloved Friends Richard and Susannah Durham, Sole Executor and Executrix of this my last Will and Testament. And I do give and bequeath unto my said Executor and Executrix all the Rest and Residue of my Estate whatsoever, both Real and Personal, hereby revoking and making void all other and former Wills by me heretofore made, and I do declare this to be my last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this twenty seventh day of July in the year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Seventy One and in the Eleventh Year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King Defender of the Faith and so forth. Frans. Wilkinson
Signed, Sealed, Published and declar’d by the said Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have hereunto subscribed Our Names as Witnesses in the presence of the said Testator. James Woodward John Hamersley Isaac Crafts.
This Will was proved at London before the Worshipful Andrew Coltee Ducarel, Doctor of Laws, Surrogate of the Right Worshipful George Hay, Doctor of Laws Master Keeper of Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted on the Sixth day of September in the Year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Seventy One by the Oath of Richard Durham one of the Executors named in the Will to whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Goods, Chattels and Credits of the deceased having been first sworn duly to Administer, Power reserved of making the like Grant to Susannah Durham (Wife of the said Richard Durham) the other Executor named in the said Will when she shall apply for the same.”
Transcribed from a copy of the will at The National Archives, Kew.
Microfilm reference: PROB 11/ 971
- Francis Wilkinson joined the crew of Endeavour on 22 June 1768. He was one of a several men who had recently returned from circumnavigating the world on board HMS Dolphin. His experience was such that before Endeavour sailed from Plymouth, Wilkinson had been promoted to Master’s Mate.
- By mid-July 1771, Endeavour had returned to the River Thames and was moored in Gallions Reach awaiting orders. On 25th July the Admiralty ordered the vessel to dock at Woolwich. Wilkinson made his will on 27th July and refers to himself as “belonging to” Endeavour. It appears that he had remained on board as one of the skeleton crew. None of the three witnesses to his will had served in Endeavour. They may have come aboard the ship after most of Cook’s crew had been paid off.
- Endeavour’s muster-book records Wilkinson as coming from Bangor, Wales. John Robson has investigated Wilkinson’s origins and believes that the Bangor entry is a mistake. He prefers to rely on Wilkinson’s entry in the muster-book of Dolphin, which records him as coming from Chatham. Whatever his origins, there is no mention of any family members in Wilkinson’s will. His sole beneficiaries, as well as his executors, were Richard and Susannah Durham of Deptford. They are described in the will as victuallers, i.e. the landlords of a pub in Deptford. It was not uncommon for sailors to leave their worldly goods to their local publican, presumably in payment for the debts that they had run up at the bar.
- Francis Wilkinson’s puzzle was featured in Cook’s Log, page 9, vol. 31, no. 2 (2008).
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 30, volume 33, number 4 (2010).