In January 1767, James Cook was following the regimen he had developed over the previous few years. He was at home in Mile End Old Town, London, working on his charts, enjoying being with his family, and contemplating a new year. His vessel, the Grenville brig, was waiting moored at Deptford. Cook was about to cross the Atlantic for what would turn out to be his last season in Newfoundland.
Cook had surveyed Newfoundland’s south coast in 1765 and 1766, and he had also investigated the northern end of the west coast in 1764. A gap remained uncharted on the west coast, and Cook’s intention now was to resume surveying the coast at Cape Anguille and continue north as far as Point Ferolle, where he had finished in 1764.
After preparing his chart from 1766, Cook submitted it for publication. Once again it was engraved by J. Larken, and printed and sold by Mount and Page, Jefferys, Dury and Carrington Bowles. It was entitled A Chart of Part of the South Coast of Newfoundland including the islands St. Peters and Miquelon: with the Southern Entrance into the Gulph of St. Laurence from actual surveys Taken by Order of Commodore Pallisser, Governor of Newfoundland, Labradore, &c.
As well as drawing up the charts from 1766, Cook was still sorting out problems for his company. He had written to the Admiralty seeking discharges for some of his men.
I have communicated to my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty your Letter of this date informing them that the six men named in the Margin, belonging to the Schooner you command have applied to be discharged, on providing Able Seamen to serve in their room except Frans. Gathman, who desires to be discharged into the Scarborough on preferment, And I am commanded to Signify their Lordships direction to you to discharge the five first upon their procuring each an Able Sea-Man to serve in his room, and to acquaint you that it is necessary the Captain of the Scarborough should signify his request to have Gathman on preferment.1
The men mentioned in the margin of this letter were Nathaniel Lungley, John Cunningham, William Lamb, John Willoughby, Stephen Lyon and Francis Gathman. Lungley, Cunningham and Lamb had sailed in Grenville in 1765 and 1766. Willoughby and Lyon had sailed in Grenville only in 1766. All were discharged in March 1767.
Francis Gathman had sailed in Grenville for three years; in 1764 as an AB; in 1765 and 1766 as a midshipman. He was successfully discharged into Scarborough on 23 February, 1767, but was dead within the year. Sadly, Scarborough’s Captain Robert Gregory had to send documentation from Antigua, including monthly muster books and pay tickets for several recently deceased men, including Francis Gathman.2 Gathman had been baptised on 9 December, 1744, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel and Mary Gahtman, who operated trading vessels on the American coast. The family name Gathman had been changed from Gahtman after the family moved from Germany.
James Cook was joined in Grenville for 1767 by the following men who had sailed with him in 1766: Thomas Smith (carpenter's mate); Peter Flower, William Gilliard and Timothy Rarden (ABs); and John Charlton (master's servant).
New to the brig were Michael Lane (master's mate), Alexander Lind (midshipman), John Smith (master’s servant), and the following Able seamen (ABs): William Coal, Simon Doughty, George English, William Grimshaw, Thomas Hardman, Isaac Hutchison, Edward Norris, John Simms, James Simpkins, Isaac Smith, James Surridge, Abraham Vandome and John Vincent. Later, in Newfoundland, they were joined by William Howson as another AB.
The three Smiths sailing this year in Grenville are interesting.
- Isaac Smith was a first cousin, once removed, of Cook’s wife, Elizabeth. He would later sail twice with Cook to the Pacific and become a post captain in his own right in 1787.
- John Smith was another cousin of Cook’s wife. His son, another John Smith, became a naval captain and featured in Elizabeth Cook’s will.
- Thomas Smith might have been a relation, but a connection remains unknown, and is unlikely.
The most significant change to the makeup of the brig’s company related to Cook’s deputy. Michael Lane replaced William Parker as master’s mate. Lane had been working as schoolmaster in HMS Guernsey and, as such, was known to Hugh Palliser. The 1767 log for Grenville begins on 2 March, and is in the new hand of Michael Lane as he had assumed responsibility for maintaining the ship’s record.
Since her return from Newfoundland late in 1766, Grenville had spent the winter moored at Deptford, having formally obtained permission to do so on 27 November, 1766.3 She now needed to be repaired and fitted out for her next active service. The brig was, therefore, moved into the dry dock on 2 March. In the log was written, “At 1pm hauled into dock”.
A pleasing event occurred on 10 March when the men received 12 months’ wages. A few days later, Grenville was hauled out of the dock. The rest of the month was spent preparing the vessel, and stowing stores and provisions for the new season. Cook had asked for new equipment, including a reflecting telescope.
- Philip Stephens to James Cook, dated 28 January, 1767. Held at the Essex Peabody Museum, Salem.
- ADM 106/1152/373. Dated 23 October, 1767. Held at The National Archives (TNA), Kew.
- Cook’s Log, page 15, vol. 38, no. 4 (2015).
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 38, volume 40, number 1 (2017).