Winter comes early in Newfoundland, and by the beginning of October 1766, James Cook realised that he needed to be finishing his survey work for the season so he could return to Britain. He had reached the southwestern point of Newfoundland. Grenville was anchored behind Codroy Island, south of Cape Anguille. Completing the survey around the Codroy River, Cook began the return to St. John’s, leaving Codroy on 4 October. Grenville rounded Cape Ray, and sailed east along the south coast.
Cook had spent some time surveying La Poile Harbour earlier in the year, and now returned to the inlet. Grenville was anchored in the entrance on 6 October, and remained there for two weeks before continuing along the south coast on the 21st. The stopover offered the opportunity to prepare the brig for crossing the Atlantic. Wood and fresh water were taken on board.
12 October. The first part fair weather. The later frost and some snow. AM began cleaning the hold.
14 October. Fresh gales and fair. Employed wooding.
15 October. Employed getting water on board.
Cook brought Grenville into St. John’s Harbour on 27 October, finding several other ships already anchored there:
27 October. 5AM Anchored in the Narrows of St. John’s Harbour. 8 Anchored in St. John’s Harbour and moored with the small anchor. Found here Commodore Palliser in the Guernsey with the Niger, Favourite, and Zephyr.
Joseph Banks, who would sail with Cook in Endeavour, had spent the summer in Newfoundland in HMS Niger. There has been speculation as to whether Cook and Banks met at St. John’s, but it is unlikely that they did. Their stays overlapped for only twenty-four hours, during which time Cook was occupied with Grenville, and Banks was preparing to sail the next day in Niger. Cook prepared Grenville for crossing the Atlantic, and Palliser gave him orders to proceed.
You are hereby required and directed to proceed with His Majestys Brigg under your command directly to Woolwich, and on your arrival you are to inform the Secretary of the Admiralty thereof.1
Two new members of Grenville’s company, John Asget and William Dyer, were taken on at St. John’s on 1 November. Cook sailed from Newfoundland on the 4th. The Lizard was sighted on the 21st, and they were off to Beachy Head on the 23rd. The log and journal both finish at this time, so details of the rest of the year remain unknown.
At the end of 1766, only three men would remain in Grenville to return with Cook to Newfoundland the following year.
- Nine men were discharged: James Command, John Cunningham, John Dunn, Francis Gathman, William Lamb, Nathanial Lungley, Stephen Lyon, William Parker, and John Willoughby.
- Three men were discharged into sick quarters: William Gilliard, James Griffiths, and Timothy Rarden.
- Six men ran: John Asget, Michael Brown, William Dyer, Zachariah Stringer, Robert Turner, and John Williams.
William Parker was one of those leaving Grenville, having served as Cook’s deputy for three summers. The question of a replacement arose, and Hugh Palliser proposed Michael Lane, who had previously served as schoolmaster in HMS Antelope, and in HMS Guernsey.
On a second conversation with Mr. Cook, I wish you to alow me to recommend for the assistant (in lieu of the young man I before mentioned) Mr. Michi. Lane, schoolmaster of the Guernsey, who draws well, is master of surveying, was brought up in the Bluecoat School, served afterwards as an apprentice to Capt. Denis, who is his friend and patron, at whose recommendation I took him into the Guernsey. Mr. Cook waits on you with this. P.S.—The other young man has a desire to go another way.2
As for Cook, he returned to Mile End to meet his first, and only, daughter, Elizabeth. She had been baptized on 22 September, 1766, at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney. Sadly, she died on 9 April, 1771, aged only four, before Cook returned from his Endeavour voyage.
Cook set about his usual task of preparing copies of his work from the just finished surveying season. One manuscript chart survives from 1766,3 covering the coast from Jervis Harbour to Cape Anguille. Cook submitted this chart in late 1766, and it was published in 1767.
- Hugh Palliser to James Cook, 29 October, 1766. Essex Peabody Museum.
- Hugh Palliser to Admiralty (Stephens), 2 December, 1766. ADM 1/2300. The National Archives (TNA).
- MS C54/5, 1767. Admiralty Library, Taunton.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 3, volume 39, number 4 (2016).