The End of Endeavour’s Voyage
It was now 12 July. Endeavour anchored in the Downs. The North Downs is the name of the main hills of Kent. The Downs is an anchorage for ships off the east coast of Kent, near the port of Deal. Banks wrote “At 3 O’Clock landed at Deal”. It was the last entry in his journal. Cook’s last entry was “At 3 oClock in the PM Anchor’d in the Downs, & soon after I landed in order to repair to London”. We are left to speculate whether they went to London together, and by what means. The ship’s log is not definitive, recording “The Captain Mr Banks & Dr Solander went a shore”.
When Endeavour had left Plymouth in July 1768, Banks had with him eight people of whom only Daniel Solander, James Roberts and Peter Briscoe arrived in the Downs in July 1771. Banks also had Alexander, who Banks had employed at Batavia. The astronomer Charles Green and his servant John Reynolds had both died. Three of the 13 marines had died. Many of the officers, sailors, etc., had also died. One person had deserted, Patrick Saunders. Several men had been recruited at Batavia and at The Cape of Good Hope, though not all of them survived. It is difficult to be certain how many people were in Endeavour when she left England as we know at least one person (Nicholas Young) did not appear on the muster roll until Tahiti. However, the number was about 95. When Endeavour arrived at The Downs the muster had 92 names.
Although Cook’s and Banks’s journals ended at The Downs, the ship’s log continued. “Came on board Jno Hudson pilot & took charge of the ship found here a great many Merchant ships”. That evening “At 7 pm Anchor’d here his Majesty’s ship Sea Horse”. Seahorse was a Sixth Rate Ship launched in 1748, and recently repaired at Deptford.
On 14 July, “At 3 AM weighed and came to sail... At 4 PM came too off Margate”. The next day Endeavour “pass’d the Flatts”, a large sandbank that lies between Margate and the Isle of Sheppey. The pilot took the ship up the River Thames, passing Gravesend the next day, and anchoring the ship in Gallion’s Reach, which is between Woolwich and Barking. The pilot left the ship. A boat was sent “to Town & the Gunner to Woolwich to get a hoy for the guns. Emply’d getting the gunners stores to hand, carried small arms ashore”. A hoy was a small vessel used for carrying goods to or from a ship.
On 17 July, “came down a hoy for the guns & powder... Sent them & the gunners ashore to Woolwich”. The next day, the log of Endeavour ends with “Fresh gales and cloudy A.M. found we drove, let go the small bower [anchor], at Slack water moor’d with the two Bowers”. At the Admiralty it was recorded “Resolved that the Endeavour Bark be paid off at Woolwich”.
The First of Many Letters
In preparation for the end of the voyage, Cook wrote a few letters whilst still in Endeavour. They are dated 12 July. He may have carried them with him from Deal to London, or sent them ahead. His original orders from the Admiralty had told him “upon your Arrival in England you are immediately to repair to this Office in order to lay before us a full account of your Proceedings in the whole Course of your Voyage, taking care before you leave the Vessel to demand from the Officers and Petty Officers the Log Books and Journals they may have Kept, and to seal them up for our inspection”.
In one letter Cook wrote to Philip Stephens, the Admiralty Secretary,
It is with pleasure I have to request that you will be pleased to acquaint my Lords Commissrs of the Admiralty with the Arrival of His Majesty’s Bark under my Command at this place, where I shall leave her to wait until’ further orders. And In Obedience to their Lordships orders immediately, & with this Letter, repair to their Office, in order to lay before them a full accot of the proceedings of the whole Voyage.
I make no doubt but what you have received my Letters & Journal forwarded from Batavia in Dutch Ships in October last, & likewise my Letter of the 10th of May, together with some of the Officers Journals which I put onboard His Majesty’s Ship Portland.
In another letter to the Navy Board, Cook wrote,
I herewith transmit to you the Monthly Muster Books of His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour under my command, together with diseased Officers accompts, Dead Tickets &ca, as undermentioned.
1 Parcel containing 16 Monthly Muster Books
& 29 Dead Tickets
1 Parcel containing Public Papers of Mr Jno Satterley
1 Do Do Mr Jno Gathrey
1 Do Do Mr Munkhouse
1 Do Do Jno Ravenhill
1 Do Do Jno Thompson
1 Do reports of Surveys
The people named in this letter were the carpenter, boatswain, surgeon, sailmaker and cook.
On 25 July, the Admiralty directed the Navy Board that Endeavour was to be docked at Woolwich as soon as may be, re-sheathed, and fitted in all respects proper for carrying a supply of provisions and stores to the Falkland Islands, reporting when she will be ready to receive men, and the number of men and guns it may be proper to establish upon her.
Cook is Home
Cook went home to his wife, Elizabeth, 29 years old, at Mile End, London. There, he found his sons James and Nathaniel were now eight and six years old, respectively; his daughter Elizabeth had died three months earlier at the age of four, and his wife had given birth to another son Joseph a few days after he had departed in 1768, who had also died.
Amongst Cook’s duties was that of dealing with the aftermath of the deaths of his men, as can be seen in a letter he wrote to George Monkhouse, Penrith, Cumberland, the father of William Brougham Monkhouse and Jonathan Monkhouse.
Your two Sons Effects jointly Sold on board amounts to £229..17..6½ exclusive of Medecines and some Surgeons Instruments, the Value of which must be refer’d to proper judges in London. The Sooner you appoint a person to pass the Drs Accots the better, if you are pleased to appoint me, I can only assure you that I will do my best to dispatch them... I have this moment enquired and am told that the original will must be sent up here to be proved at Drs Commons. My respects to all Your family.
Banks is Home
Banks went home to No. 14 New Burlington Street, London, which he had acquired in 1767 after returning from Newfoundland. On 13 July, he wrote to his friend Thomas Pennant, traveller and naturalist,
a few short lines must suffice to acquaint you with the arrival of Dr Solander & myself in good health this day. Mr Buchan Mr Parkinson and Mr Sporing are all dead as is our astronomer seven officers & about a third part of the ships crew of diseases contracted in the East Indies not in the South Seas where health seems to have her cheif residence. Our Collections will I hope satisfy you, very few quadripeds, one mouse however (Gerbua) weighing 80lb weight. I long for nothing so much as to see you but must delay that pleasure some time. My relations are dispersed almost to the extremities of the Kingdom & I must see them before I begin to arrange or meddle with anything.
Soon after his return, Banks wrote to Stanfield Parkinson about his brother, Sydney, who had died on the voyage, and whose effects were now in Banks’s possession. In 1767, Stanfield, an upholsterer, had provided furnishing to Banks, and now was asked to provide more.
On 25 July, Banks attended the General Meeting of the Royal Society Dining Club, to which he had been elected in his absence a year earlier. He had been elected to the Royal Society in 1766.
Endeavour Voyage Reported in the Newspapers
On 16 July, the Kentish Gazette reported,
The Endeavour, Capt. Cooke [sic], from the East-Indies, lately arrived, sailed in August 1768, with Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, Mr. Green, and other ingenious gentlemen on board, for the South Seas, to observe the transit of Venus; they have since made a voyage round the world, and touched at every coast and Island, w[h]ere it was possible to get on shore, to collect every speicies of plants and other productions in nature. Their voyage, upon the whole, has been as agreeable and successful as they could have expected, except the death of Mr. Green, who died upon his passage from Batavia: Dr. Solander has been indisposed, but it is hopped a few days’ refreshment will soon establish his health: Capt. Cooke, and Mr. Banks are perfectly well.
On 23 July, the Stamford Mercury reported,
We hear that Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander have collected an amazing variety of unknown seeds and bulbs in all the Southern latitudes, from Cape Horn to the Equinoctial line, and that they have practised various methods in order to preserve them during so long a voyage. These they have communicated for the benefit of the public, to some of the most ingenious Artist[s] in this way, particularly a very handsome collection of them to the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew... Dr. Solander and the other Gentlemen who lately sailed around the World in the Endeavour frigate [sic], spent four months at George’s Land, one of the new discovered Islands. They made themselves masters of the language there, and two of the Natives came with them to Batavia, where they were carried off by sickness, together with many of the crew. Dr. Solander and his Company touched at near forty other undiscovered Islands, not known to any other Europeans, but which have plenty of Inhabitants; and have brought over with them above a thousand different species of plants, none of which were ever known in Europe before.
On 27 July, the Oxford Journal reported,
We learn by the Endeavour, from the South Seas, that they discovered a Southern Continent, in the Latitude of the Dutch Spice Islands; that the People were hospitable, ingenious, and civil, of a Copper Complexion, but handsome and well-made. Mr. Banks passed some Months amongst them: And though these people were so politely civilized, it is very extraordinary that they have no Kind of Worship or Religion amongst them. Two of the Natives came voluntarily with Mr. Banks, but died of the Flux at Batavia. From this Voyage we expect many Discoveries and much Entertainment. They had an excellent Observation of the Transit of Venus, but the ingenious Mr. Green died on his Return. Upon their arrival, the Admiralty seized all the Officers Papers. In Consequence of this Discovery more ships will be destined in search of this new terrestrial Acquisition.
On 30 July, the Kentish Gazette reported,
Some of the plants brought over by Dr. Solander have been set in the Royal Garden at Richmond, and thrive as well as in their natural soil.
Various Admiralty Matters
On 1 August, the Admiralty recorded in its minutes “The Lords took into consideration several Letters from Lieut. Cook late commander of the Endeavour Bark, giving an account of his late voyage, and enclosing several Journals and Charts relative thereto. Resolved that he be acquainted the Board extremely well approve of the whole of his Proceedings, and have great satisfaction in the account he gives of the good behaviour of his officers and men, and of the chearfulness and alertness with which they went through the fatigues and dangers of the Voyage”.
Accordingly, the following day the Admiralty Secretary wrote to “Lieut. Cook Endeavour Bark”. The letter was sent to him at his house at Mile End.
On 3 August, Cook completed a printed form headed “Observations of the Qualities of His Majesty’s Bark the Endeavour”. Among his comments were “her best Sailing is with the Wind a point or two abaft the beam she will then run 7 or 8 Knots and carry a weather Helm... No Sea can hurt he laying Too under a Main Sail or Mizon ballanc’d... She is a good Roader and Careens easy and without the least danger”.
On 8 August, the Admiralty recorded in its minutes “Lieut. James Gordon to command the Endeavour Bark, at Woolwich, and that she be fitted to carry stores and provisions to Falkland Islands”.
About the same time, Cook wrote to the Admiralty Secretary recommending promotions and placements for some of his men. For example, “Mr Richd Orton Clerk, formerly Pursser of the Barbadoes Sloop & Ship Arundel wishes to have some place in the Customhouse or any other public office”. Also, “Mr Jno Edgcombe Sergt of Marines, a good Solder very much of a gentleman & well deserving of promotion in the Marine Service”. And, “Mr Isaac Smith & Mr Isaac Manly, both too young for preferment, yet their behaviour merits the best recommendation. The former was of great use to me in assisting to make Surveys, Plans, Drawings &ca in which he is very expert”.
Meeting the King
On 2 August, Banks was presented to King George III at the Court of St. James’s. A week later Banks and Solander were formally presented to the King and Queen at Kew by Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society. The meeting was reported by the Stamford Mercury on 15 August. “Dr. Solander and Mr. Banks, accompanied by Sir John Pringle, by his Majesty’s order, attended at Richmond, and had the honour of having a private conference with his Majesty, on the discoveries they made on their late voyage”. On another page in the same issue the newspaper told its readers “Dr. Solander, who lately sailed round the world, is a native of Sweden, and about 40 years of age; Henry [sic] Banks, Esq; who accompanied him, is aged about 26, possessed of a handsome estate in Lincolnshire; he is a Gentleman likewise of great learning and abilities; five years ago he sailed to the Labrador Coast, in North America, in search of plants”.
On 17 August, Cook was introduced to the King at St James’s. The Kentish Gazette described the meeting. “On Thursday Lieutenant Cook, of the Royal Navy, who sailed round the globe with Messrs. Solander, Banks, &c. was presented to his Majesty by Lord Sandwich, and had the honour of presenting to his Majesty a compleat journal of the said voyage, together with some curious maps and charts, that he made of different places during the said voyage, which were graciously received, and at the same time he was presented with a Captain’s commission”. John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, had been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty earlier that year.
Cook had been told about his promotion in a letter from Banks, we learn from a reply that Cook wrote on a Sunday morning, possibly either 4 or 11 August. It was headed “Will’s Coffee-house, Charing Cross”.
Your very obliging letter was the first Messenger that conveyed to me Lord Sandwich’s intentions. Promotion unsolicited to a man of my station in life must convey a satisfaction to the mind that is better conceived than described—I had this morning the honour to wait upon his Lordship who renewed his promises to me, and in so obliging and polite a manner as convinced me that he approved of the Voyage. The reputation I may have acquired on this account by which I shall receive promotion calls to my mind the very great assistance I received therein from you, which will ever be remembered with most gratefull Acknowledgments.
There was no such rank in the navy as Captain at this time. Cook’s promotion was to Commander. After the Second Voyage he became Post-Captain.
On 17 August, Cook wrote from Mile End to his former employer at Whitby, John Walker. “Your very obliging letter came safe to hand for which and your kind enquiry after my health I return you my most sincere thanks... I had the Honour of an hour’s Conference with the King the other day, who was pleased to express his Approbation of my Conduct in Terms that were extremely pleasing to me—I however have made no very great Discoveries yet I have exploar’d more of the Great South Sea than all that have gone before me”. Cook then gave an account of the voyage up to when he left the Society Islands. He ended the letter, “Should I come into the North I shall certainly call upon you”.
Banks and Solander
On 12 August, the Caledonian Mercury reported,
We are credibly informed that the Endeavour, which carried Mr Banks and Dr. Solander round the world, sailed many hundred leagues with a large piece of rock sticking to her bottom, which, had it fallen out, must have occasioned inevitable destruction to them all.
On 13 August, Johann Reinhold Forster wrote to his friend Thomas Pennant about what he had heard of the voyage of Banks and Solander, adding “Mr Banks I have heard, meditates already a new Expedition to Africa”.
On 18 August, Benjamin Franklin dined in Pall Mall, London, at Sir John Pringle’s house. He wrote the following day to Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of St Asaph, then at Twyford House, a large manor in Winchester,
I din’d on Sunday last at Sir John Pringle’s with Messrs. Banks and Solander, and learnt some farther particulars. The People of Otahitee (Georges Island) are civilized in a great degree... The Inhabitants of New Zealand were found to be a brave & sensible people, and seem’d to have a fine Country... The Inhabitants of New Holland... would accept none of our Presents. Whatever we gave them, they would look at a while, then lay it down and walk away.
James Gordon had established a nursery at Mile End Old Town, London, in 1742. Solander had visited him as early as 1760. Banks had bought many seeds from him, and taken them in Endeavour, planting them in Tahiti and elsewhere. On 23 August, the Derby Mercury reported,
The learned Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander paid a Visit lately to the ingenious Botanist, Mr. James Gordon, of Mile-End, and gave him a Bag of some very valuable Seeds they had gathered from the most remote Parts of the Globe, from which an useful Produce is expected.
The next day, Daines Barrington, lawyer and naturalist, wrote to his friend Thomas Pennant about Miss Harriet Blosset. She had fallen in love with Joseph Banks just before he had sailed away in 1768, and some said they were engaged to be married. Barrington wrote,
The account I have receivd of Mr Banks’s infidelity is the following & I believe you may depend upon every circumstance of it. Upon his arrival in England, he took no sort of notice of Miss Blosset for the first week or nearly so at the same time that he went about London & visited other friends & acquaintance. On this Miss Blosset set out for London & wrote him a letter desiring an interview of explanation. To this Mr Bankes answer’d by a letter of 2 or 3 sheets professing love &c but that he found he was of too volatile a temper to marry... Mr Bankes’s behaviour seems therefore to me to be totally without excuses as he admits he gave Miss Bl: the strongest reason to expect he would return her husband.
It is interesting that Pennant did not include gossip he had read in the letter from Forster, dated 13 August, “the marriage [of Banks] with Miss Harriet Blosset is not to take place. & she is to have 5000£: this Dr Bosworth told me”.
On 29 August, the Stamford Mercury reported,
Mr. Banks is to have two ships from Government to pursue his discoveries in the South Seas, and will sail upon his second voyage next March.
On 31 August, the Oxford Journal reported,
Dr. Solander and Mr. Banks have the Honour of frequently waiting on his Majesty at Richmond, who is in a Course of examining their whole Collection of Drawings of Plants and Views of the Country. A Circumstance which does honour to the Taste of his Majesty, whose Patronage of this great Design cannot fail of being an Additional Motive to the learned Persons to undertake their Second Voyage the ensuing Spring.
Appointments to Scorpion
On 29 August, there was a commission for “Mr. James Cook (2d) to be commander Scorpion”. He was James Cook the second as that other James Cook (whom Cook met at St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1762) had preceded him to become number 1.
On the same day, Richard Pickersgill, who had begun the Endeavour voyage as a master’s mate, and ended it as Master, was appointed “Lieutenant of the Scorpion”.
Scorpion was one of two merchant vessels purchased earlier that year by the Admiralty to be used as fireships. Originally called Borryan, she was renamed Etna by the Admiralty on 6 March. However, on 24 July it was decided to complete the two vessels as sloops, and this one was renamed Scorpion on 10 August. She was commissioned under Commander James Cook.
The Oxford Journal reported the appointment on 7 September, “Capt. Cooke, of the Endeavour, is promoted to the Command of the Ætna Sloop”.
Several orders were minuted or sent on 29 August. One minute said that Scorpion was to be fitted at Deptford for Channel Service. Her complement was to be 120 men, with 14 carriage guns and 14 swivels. The Admiralty Secretary wrote to Cook enclosing an order to make observations and surveys of coasts. The Admiralty Secretary also wrote to Cook “To hasten to the Nore [a sandbank at the mouth of the River Thames] with his ship, agreeable to their Lordships’ orders of 9 January last”.
According to Scorpion’s musters, the following men from Endeavour joined on 31 August: George Nowell as carpenter, John Ramsay as cook, William Dawson as clerk, Isaac Smith as master’s mate, and John Marra as gunner’s mate. In September the following men joined Scorpion from Endeavour: Thomas Hardman as yeoman of the sheets and William Perry as surgeon.
On 18 September, the Admiralty Secretary wrote to Cook that Lieutenant Pickersgill had requested leave to go into the country for the recovery of his health, and asked Cook if he had any objection? Cook replied three days later, “I have to acquaint you that I have no objection to their Lordships granting Lieutt Pickersgill leave to go into the Country for the recovery of his health”. Two days later, the Admiralty Secretary directed Cook to give leave to Pickersgill.
On 20 September, the Admiralty Secretary wrote to Cook about Matthew Cox, a sailor in Endeavour. On 30 November, 1769, he was one of three seamen who had deserted their posts whilst on New Zealand the previous night. They had left their posts to go and dig up some potatoes from a nearby plantation belonging to the Māori. Cook punished them with 12 lashes each for deserting their posts. When Cox argued that their actions had not caused any harm, Cook put him in confinement for a period. It seems that Cox was so upset with the way in which he had been treated that, in England, he served legal papers on Cook for the imprisonment and whipping which he had suffered. Cook forwarded the legal papers to the Admiralty on 16 September. Philip Stephens replied to Cook, “Their Lordships, in reply to his letter of the 16th inst., have directed their Solicitor to defend him in the action brought against him by Matthew Cox, a seaman who was in the Endeavour Bark, for punishing him with imprisonment and whipping”.
In a second letter to John Walker, written on 13 September, Cook wrote about the rest of the Endeavour voyage, and contained a hint about the future. I “expect that my Lords commissioners of the Admiralty will very soon publish the whole Voyage, Charts &ca. Another Voyage is thought of, with two Ships which if it takes place I believe the command will be confer’d upon me”.
On 25 September, the Admiralty instructed the Navy Board to purchase two proper vessels of about 400 tons for service in remote parts.
One of the people keen to go on any new voyage with Banks and Solander was Reinhold Forster. He dedicated his forthcoming book Florae Americae Septentrionalis or a Catalogue of the Plants of North America... to Solander. On 26 September, he wrote the Latin dedication for his forthcoming book Novae Species Insectorum (New Insect Species). It was to Banks, saying, “I take this opportunity, too, to say how ready I am in keenest strength of mind and body to sustain the labours of a new journey that you are contemplating, and not only to pray for every good fortune and a happy and safe return, adorned by new spoils of the sea and the antipodes, but also, if it pleases God, to endure the same perils with you, to share with you the same pleasure the study of nature gives, under a new sky”.
On 28 September, the Kentish Gazette reported,
the Earl of Sandwich gave a splendid entertainment, at his Lordship’s house at the Admiralty, to Dr. Solander, Mr. Banks, and all the officers belonging to the Endeavour, lately arrived from her voyage round the world.
Books about the Endeavour Voyage
Dr Charles Burney was a prominent figure in London’s musical and social world. He was also a close friend of Lord Sandwich. Frances (better known as Fanny Burney), one of his daughters, kept a diary. In 1769 she wrote “Our party... was large and brilliant. Mr. Greville, the celebrated Mr. Hawkesworth... dined with us”.
John Hawkesworth had first made the acquaintance of Dr Burney in 1745. Hawkesworth had written on a variety of subjects, translated foreign publications, and had been the editor of, and main contributor to, the periodical The Adventurer. In 1754 he published a biography of Jonathan Swift. The Archbishop of Canterbury gave him a Lambeth doctorate in 1756 for being such a good moralist.
On 15 September, 1771, Fanny Burney wrote,
My father has had a happy oppurtunity of extremely obliging Dr. Hawkesworth. During [Dr. Burney’s] stay in Norfolk, he waited upon Lord Orford, who had always been particularly friendly to him. He there, among others, met with Lord Sandwich. His Lordship was speaking of the late voyage round the world and mentioned his having the papers of it in his possession; for he is First Lord of the Admiralty; and said that they were not arranged, but mere rough draughts, and said that he should be much obliged to any one who could recommend a proper person to write the Voyage. My father directly named Dr Hawkesworth, and his Lordship did him the honour to accept his recommendation... I cannot but be amazed, that a man of Lord Sandwich’s power, &ca., should be so ignorance of men of learning and merit, as to apply to an almost stranger for [a recommendation].
George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, lived at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. He served as High Steward of King's Lynn, and as Lord of the Bedchamber to King George III.
On 18 September, Hawkesworth wrote to Dr. Burney,
There is nothing about which I would so willingly be employed as the work you mention. I would do my best to make it another Anson’s Voyage. I am very unwilling to wait for Lord S.’s application without doing Something to anticipate or quicken it. Will you tell him by a Line that I most heartily concur on the proposal? I have written to Garrick requesting that he will do what he may.
David Garrick was an actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer.
On 26 September, 1771, The London Chronical carried an advertisement for a forthcoming book.
A Journal of a Voyage round the World in his Majesty’s Ship ENDEAVOUR, in the Years 1768, 1769, 1770 and1771, undertaken in Pursuit of Natural Knowledge... To remove every possible Doubt of the Authenticity of this Journal, the Public are referred to the Editor’s Address to the Lords of the Admiralty, and to Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, prefixed to the publication.
On 28 September, the Admiralty responded in an advertisement that appeared in The London Chronical.
Admiralty Office, Sept. 27, 1771.
The Editor of a work, intitled, “A Journal of a Voyage round the world, in his Majesty’s Ship the Endeavour”, which was advertised in a morning paper of this day, having made free with our names, we think it only proper to assure the public, that we know nothing of any such journal. An account of the discoveries that have been made in the voyage of the Endeavour, with the charts and drawings necessary to illustrate the work, is now preparing to be laid before the public by authority; of which they will have timely information.
DAN. C. SOLANDER.
On 29 September, Daniel Wray, a trustee of the British Museum, wrote to Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke, “The Voyage of the Endeavour has been settled: Hawkesworth is to be the writer, recommended by Garrick”.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 18, volume 44, number 3 (2021).