On 1 July, 1772, Commander James Cook in Resolution passed the island of Portland, near Weymouth, Dorset. The following evening, according to Robert Palliser Cooper, First Lieutenant, “saw 3 sail on the NW. At 6 Join’d them being the Augusta Yatch [yacht] with the Glory & Hazard. Saluted the yatch with 17 Guns. Came on board Lord Sandwich & the Comptroller of the Navy. On their going away saluted them with 3 Cheers”. The Comptroller was Hugh Palliser, a relation of Cooper.
The next morning, Commander Tobias Furneaux, in Adventure in Plymouth Sound, wrote in his journal, “arrived here His Majesty’s Sloop the Resolution”. According to Johann Reinhold Forster in his journal, he and his son George saw Resolution “from the Garrison, a fort built of stone on the top of a rocky hill, which commands the entrance of the harbour”. He went on the ship “with the Carpenters & Joiners in order to have all the Alterations & conveniences made, which I should wish for in the little Cabin allotted to me... as I could do nothing on board till Tuesday or Wednesday, when the alterations should be done, I took a Journey into Cornwall in order to see the Tin mines there”.
The next day, Forster went with “my Son to Saltash, having passed the Arm of the Sea in a Ferry”. They “passed Leskeard & went to Bodmyn”. On 5 July, “we came to Llanivet in order to see there some mines, which upon examination were only some wretched Streamworks”. The next day, “passed through St Michael [and] arrived at Truro”. After visiting mines at “Poldice in Gwenap parish” and “Kenwyn... a new Tinwork”, he “thought myself pretty well instructed... & returned First to Truro, and then to Bodmyn”. The next day, “we saw the races at Bodmyn”, before arriving back in Plymouth on 8 July, where he “found all things on board the Ship for me done”.
James Cook and seven other men in Endeavour had transferred to Scorpion, and then transferred to Resolution. Six other men from Endeavour also joined Resolution. Another 20 men from Scorpion also sailed in Resolution.
Tobias Furneaux and six other men in Adventure had also sailed in Dolphin to the Pacific, 1766-1768. Furneaux and seven other men in Adventure had served together in Torbay in 1771. Alexander Dewar, Furneaux’s clerk, had sailed alongside him in both Dolphin and Torbay.
On 8 July, Samuel Coulson, a corporal of marines in Resolution was discharged. The next day, he was replaced as corporal by Samuel Gibson, who had previously sailed in Endeavour. Isaac Taylor joined as a private.
Two days later, Captain Cook wrote in his journal, “the Officers & Crew of both Sloops were paid their Wages up to 28th of May last and the Petty Officers and Seamen were also paid two months Advance... an indulgence never before granted to any of His Majestys Ships, and was done with a view to enable them to purchase necessarys for so long a Voyage”.
Cook also explained, “we have casks on board the two Sloops for the reception of about 400 gallns of Madeira Wine which we intend to take in at that Island... We were also provided with Mr Irvings apperatuses for distillation by which we can at any time get a small supply of fresh Water from the Sea, in case we should be short of that article”. Charles Irving was a surgeon and inventor.
William Wales in Resolution, and William Bayly in Adventure, were the Board of Longitude’s appointed astronomers. Cook noted, “the principal object of these gentlemen are sent out upon is to assertain the going of Mr Kendall’s Watch and three of Mr Arnolds”. Larcum Kendall had been paid by the Board to copy John Harrison’s fourth marine timekeeper (commonly known nowadays as H4). Kendall’s timepiece is known as K1. John Arnold had also produced some “watches”, and was present in Plymouth. Wales wrote “On July 10th, 1772, the three timekeepers Nos. 1, 2. and 3 made by Arnold were set going by himself. Nos. 1 and 2 were taken on board the Adventure by Mr. Bayly; and No. 3, together with that made by Mr. Kendall, were carried by myself on board the Resolution”.
According to Cook, Resolution had a company of 122 men, plus six supernumeraries (the astronomer, botanists, painter, and their servants), and Adventure had a company of 81 men, plus two supernumeraries (the astronomer and his servant). Georg Forster later wrote that Cook’s greatest strength for this voyage “lay in the number of capable officers he had been given by his superiors”. The two sloops were “by Navy rules, only allowed to carry a single lieutenant [however] he was assigned three, along with three master’s mates; instead of two midshipmen he was allowed to pay six, as well as taking along several without pay. This system was of the greatest use for his itinerary. When the ship was in port it was possible, without emptying it of officers to send out several parties on different errands at the same time, each under the command of an officer”.
On 13 July, Cooper wrote, “At 4 am weigh’d & came to Sail as did the Adventure... At Noon The Ramhead NE¾E Dist. 7 Leagues”. Rame Head was such an important point of land that Cook wrote “Ram head from which I take my departure”. Forster noted that the ships “passed Eddystone light house”. Also that day, Cooper wrote, “Read the Articles of War & Abstract of the late Act of Parliament to the Ships Compy. Punish’d Richd Waterford & Richd Carpenter Marines with 6 Lashes each for Mutiny”. In 1749, Parliament had passed “An Act for amending, explaining, and reducing into one Act of Parliament the Laws relating to the Government of His Majesty’s Ships, Vessels and Forces by Sea”.
Cook explained in his journal to his future readers beyond the Admiralty that, “Before I go on regularly with the Transaction of each day it will be necessary to premise that the day is supposed to begin and end at Noon, that is Tuesday will now begin on Monday Noon and end on Tuesday Noon, at which time Wednesday begins &ca”. In the eighteenth century, naval officers used nautical or ship’s time rather than civil time. Cook’s journal entries begin with the events of the afternoon, followed by midnight, followed by those of the morning, and end with noon.
As the two ships sailed south across the Bay of Biscay, both Lieutenant Cooper and Joseph Gilbert (master in Resolution) frequently wrote in their journals “Shorten’d sail for the Adventure” or “Shortened sail for the Adventure to come up with us”. On 20 July, the ships saw Cape Ortegal in northern Spain.
Two days later, there was calm weather, so Cook “took the opportunity of the Calm to send a Boat on board the Adventure with Mr Wales in order to compare the Watches”.
On 23 July, Furneaux in Adventure wrote, “Spoke a Spanish Ship of the line, bound to the Groyne [Coruña, a port in northern Spain], with an other Ship of the Line and a Frigate”. According to Cooper in Resolution “Pass’d by us 3 Spanish Men O’War, after which the two last hauld their Wind & chas’d the Adventure, & Fir’d 2 Shot at her. We Bro[ugh]t to, then she spoke [to] the Adventure & Made Sail”. John Elliott, a midshipman in Resolution, wrote, “we were Chased by two Spanish Men of War. The nearest, a Sixty four, fired several shot at the Adventure, to bring her to, and Capt. Foneraux did bring to, which displeased Capt. Cook, as he condsidered it an Insult to the British Flag. The Spaniard asked what ship that was ahead, and being told it was the Resolution, Capt. Cook, he said: Oh, Cook is it? and wished us all a good Voyage”. The ships sailed on, passing Cape Finisterre, on the west coast of Spain.
On 28 July, Cooper wrote, “Saw the land ahead from the mast head... the Island Porto Santo”. According to Forster, it is “a small Island about 6 leagues in length, barren & very thinly inhabited”. A little later, he saw “Madeira a breast & the town of Sta Cruz... The Isle with its lofty hills, bore a very fine prospect”.
The ships anchored in Funchal Road overnight. In the morning, wrote Cook, “saluted the Garrison with 11 guns which was emmidiately return’d”.
Forster “was roused by the morning Gun, & as I knew the Ship was going to salute the Castle, I got up, in order to be out of the way, when the Guns on both sides of my Cabin should be fired... About 7 o’clock there came a boat on board, with a Captain of the Hall & an Interpreter, to enquire into the state of the health of our Ships-company & whether we came from any... places that are suspected to be infected with plague... Capt Furneaux breakfasted with us & then we went altogether in the pinnace ashore”.
Cook had been to Madeira in Endeavour. He wrote, “For a more particular account of this Island I must refer to my last Voyage”. In 1768, Cook had met the island’s “English Consul Mr Cheap”. However, wrote Forster in 1772, “As Mr Cheap the former Consul had left some time ago Madeira & the new Consul Mr Murray was not yet arrived, we were conducted to the house of Mr Loughnan [who] is the Contractor for providing the kings Ships with necessaries”.
The main purpose of the stay was to obtain fresh water and refreshments. On 30 July, Furneaux “Received onboard 122 fresh beef”. The next day he “Received onboard 244 pds fresh beef”. According to Cook during their stay “Mr Forster and his son [stayed at a] country house about two miles out of Town where they persued their Botanical discoveries”. They were accompanied by Forster’s servant Ernest Scholient, who is rarely mentioned by anyone. Apart from helping the two Forsters to collect specimens, he also carried much of what was found. At the end of one day, Forster used a local man “to find the shortest road, & to relieve my poor Servant, with the box of plants, who was quite spent”.
According to Cook, Mr Loughnan “accommodated the Astronomers with an upper apartment in his house in Town very sutable for their purpose and into which they got their Instruments &ca to make the necessary observations”. When Harrison’s H4 had been sent in a ship to the Caribbean to test its accuracy (accompanied by Harrison’s son William), a stop was made at Madeira, and H4 was used to determine the island’s longitude. Cook now wrote, “Mr Harrison... when he was sent to the West Indias by the Board of Longitude in order to assertain the going of his watch or time piece [H4], made the Longitude of Funchall... to be 17°10' and Mr Kendalls Watch now on board and which is made after the very same manner as Mr Harrisons (parts like parts) 17°10'... Altho these two Watches point out the very same Longitude they may nevertheless have made some difference for Mr Harrison’s was set going at Portsmouth, and Kendalls at Plymouth”.
In a letter from Madeira, dated 1 August, Cook wrote, “Three days before we arrived a person left the Island who went by the name of Burnett he had been waiting for Mr Banks arrival about three months, at first he said he came here for the recovery of his health, but afterwards said his intention was to go out with Mr Banks, to some he said he was unknown to this Gentleman, to others he said it was by his appointment he came here as he could not be receiv’d on board in England, at last when he heard that Mr Banks did not go, he took the very first opportunity to get of the Island, he was about 30 Years of age and rather ordinary than otherwise and employ’d his time in Botanizing &ca. Every part of Mr Burnetts behaviour and every action tended to prove that he was a Woman, I have not met with a person that entertains a doubt of a contrary nature, he brought letters of recommendation to an English House where he was accomodated during his stay, It must be observed that Mrs Burnett must have left London about the time we were first ready to sail”. It is unclear to whom the letter was sent, possibly Philip Stephens, the Secretary to the Admiralty.
Cook also wrote in this letter, “the two Sloops are well match’d what difference there is is in favour of the Resolution”.
The ships set sail from Madeira about 10 o’clock on the evening of 1 August. The next morning, Furneaux “Received from the Resolution a quarter of Beef and a quantity of Onions for the Ship’s Company”. According to Cook, a “Thousand Bunches” of onions had been obtained and “distributed among the people for a Sea store, a Custom I observed last Voyage [in Endeavour] and had reason to think that they recived great benifit therefrom”.
Also this day, a stowaway was found in Adventure. He was John Rayside. Furneaux wrote to Cook that “an Englishman belonging to a Portuguese Vessel at Madeira came unperceived onboard His Majesty’s Sloop under my Command last evening in a Shore boat and secreted himself till this morning, he equaints me that he is desirous of Enlisting in this Sloop, as my Complement of men is full, I beg to be informed how he is to be disposed of”. Cook replied, “as it is now impossible to put him on Shore and highly probable that one or the other of the two Sloops may want a Man in a Short time, you are hereby required & directed to bear the Said John Rayside” as a supernumerary.
According to Cooper, on 3 August, “Serv’d wine to the Ship’s Company”. The following day, “Punish’d John Marra with 1 dozen for Mutiny”. According to Gilbert, his name was “John Marrow”
On 4 August, Richard Pickersgill, Third Lieutenant in Resolution, wrote, we “saw the Isle of Ferro... Louis 14th attempted to make this island the Meridian of the world and published an Eddict requiring all his subjects to keep their accounts of Longitude from here, had it been followed by the rest of the Powers of Europe, it would have saved a great deal of confusion occasion’d at present by every Navigator keeping his Longitude from where he pleases, and some times never mentions the place at all espicelly if you only get a Part of a Journal”. The island was El Hierro in the Canary Islands.
On 6 August Forster wrote, “A flying fish (Exocoetus evolans) came in the Evening on the forecastle, which we described shortly & drew. Great shoals of these flying Fish were constantly observed to rise out of the water & to skim the Surface of the Sea; often they meet a wave, and swim across it, & immediately after emerging from it continue their flight”. The modern name is Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish (Exocoetus volitans).
The same day, Cooper wrote, “Pump’d the Ship out & put a foot of salt water down the Pumps which has been done twice or three times a week & which will Contribute greatly towards the health of the Ships Company. Before this was observ’d the stench of the Bilge water was exceedingly offensive”.
Two days later, “We Cross’d the Tropick of Cancer”, wrote Cooper. Forster commented, “About this time we found that our books & other Utensils covered with leather began to mould, the moisture of the Sea, the Steams & Exhalations from the Men between Decks, & Animals on Deck, together with the increasing warmth of the Climate made it necessary to provide for the cleanliness of the Ship”.
The next day, Cooper “Clean’d & Smoak’d between decks”
Endeavour in September 1768.
Scomber Pelamys), my Son drew it, & we dined upon part of it, which seemed to be a very good dish but rather dry”. The modern name is of this fish is Bonito, or Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis).
Isis, commanded by Charles Pierre Claret, Comte de Fleurieu, which had sailed from France with the astronomer Alexandre-Gui Pingre to test a chronometer made by Ferdinand Berthoud. Berthoud had once been sent to London to examine Harrison’s timekeeper H4. Forster also saw several birds ashore, including “great numbers of a most beautiful redbilld & redleg’d Kingfisher, with blue wing & tail feathers, a white head neck & breast, a ferrugineous belly & vent’ black on the back & under the tail & wings, with a white broad stripe on the underside of the quill feathers. Four of which I preserved in Spirits, & my Son drew”—the Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala acteon). He continued, “Our plants amounted to a good number & we found about 10 new ones, which my Son drew & I described”.
On 17 August, Forster “observed a Meteor descending towards NW & moving down to the Horizon: it was very bright & had a bluish light, but its duration was momentaneous & the motion quick”. The next day, Charles Clerke, Second Lieutenant in Resolution, wrote, “Brew’d some Beer with the essence of malt, which we have onboard – it has several times fermented and blew the Bungs out – more than once the Head of the Cask out, by which accidents a considerable quantity of it has been lost, which is rather unfortunate, as it makes a most agreeable and I believe a very salutary drink”.
On 20 August, Gilbert wrote, “Henry Smock, one of the carpenters crew, being at work over the ships side upon a grating, slip’t overboard unperceived & was drown’d”.
Two days later, Gilbert wrote, “Punish’d Rich’d Waterfield with 6 lashes for insolence to the Boatswain & disobeying his order”. Richard Waterfield was a marine. The Boatswain was James Gray.
Although George Forster did not write a journal during the voyage, he published one based on his father’s journal, and his own recollections. In it we are reminded that James Cook once sailed to Norway (in 1749), while working for John Walker at Whitby. George wrote on 22 August, “Captain Cook very obligingly communicated to me... Being on board a ship between Norway and England, he met with a violent storm, during which a flight of several hundred birds overed the whole rigging of the ship. Among numbers of small birds, he observed several hawks, which lived very luxuriously by preying on those poor defenceless creatures”.
The next day, Clerke wrote, “Made the People spread their Bedding fore & aft the Decks to air”. The following day, he wrote, “Distill’d water with Doctor Irwin’s machine”. He meant Irving’s machine. Gilbert wrote, “Distilled fresh water from the sea water, got three gallons per hour, made use of two gallons of coals per hour”.
On 25 August, Furneaux wrote, “Departed this life Mr Jno James Lambrecht Midshipman”. Lambrecht had died “of a Fever he caught at St Jago by bathing and making too free with the water in the heat of the day”. John Rayside, the stowaway, was appointed as a sailor in his place. Four days later, Furneaux “Punished Donald Stewart (marine) with a dozen lashes for Fighting and Contempt to his Officers”.
On 28 August, Gilbert wrote, “Erwins Machine generally made us of from 4 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon distilling fresh water”. He meant Irving’s machine.
On 31 August, Isaac Smith, a master’s mate in Resolution, wrote, “Sent the Boat on board the Adventure with the Astronomer to Compare the Watches”.
On 1 September, Cooper wrote, “Employ’d great Guns & Small Arms”. Forster explained a bit more. “The Ships Company were mustered according to a Quarterbill, & every one’s business in case of an Engagement was fixed & in consequence part of them were exercised in managing the great Guns & others in handling the small Arms”. The Quarter Bill was a list of men stating to which part of the ship they should go when a battle was likely. For Resolution the main places were the Main Deck, Forecastle, Quarter Deck, Foretopsail braces, Magazine, Helm, Lightroom, and Cockpit.
The next day, John Davall Burr, a Master’s mate in Resolution, wrote, “Punish’d Ricd Baldy, Marine with six Lashes for taking fresh water out of the Hold”.
On 5 September, Forster wrote, “A boat was hoisted out, & Mr Wales the astronomer & the Master went out in it. They tried the current in the following manner. As it is pretty calm or at least very little wind, the boat is fixed by letting down the Carpenters Iron pitch-pot with a line of 85 fathom, & this is as good as an Anchor: then a Board in the shape of a log but a great deal larger, is thrown out & the line eased from the reel as long as it will run in half a minute: which was in this case ½ of a knot, the Current setting North. The Astronomer Mr Wales had also a thermometer in a glass tube, & this in a wooden case with valves above & below, tied to the pitch pot, when it was let down & the result of this Experiment was as follows: In the open air the Thermometer stood at 75½ degrees, at the Surface of the water, when plunged into it, the mercury was at 74, & at 85 fathom depth it stood at 66”. Cook commented, “By this experiment it appears the Sea Water was 8° colder at the depth of 70 fathoms than it was at the Surface”.
On 7 September, Cooper wrote, “The Adventure made the Sigl for a sail in the NE. She was a Brig standing to the Westwd”.
James Burney, a sailor in Resolution, wrote on the same day, “2 of the Men by way of Fun made an house of Office [i.e. toilet] of a pair of Breeches belonging to our Armourer which he finding out complaind of the Fact being fully provd the Aggressors were obligd between them to buy the Breeches, each paying an equal Share. They then tossd up which should keep them & Winner was orderd on the Spot to try how his new purchase fitted; which, after many wry faces, he did, to the no small diversion of the Spectators, many Jokes, or what were meant as Such being made on the Occasion”.
The next day, noted Pickersgill, “we cross’d the equinoctial Line being then in Longitude 10° 22' W. of Greenwich; here according to the usual Custom of seamen we brought the ship too and duck’d a great number of the seamen who never before had been a cross, and refused to pay the accustomed fine, this cerimony was perform’d by hoisting the Person to be Duck’d by a rope to the yard arm and then letting go the rope lett him plung[e] into the sea, this repeated three times he is taken in and is free of the Line; after which a tub of punch is made and they all get merry over the forfits.” Bayly recorded that “Capt Furneaux did not chose to let it be carried into execution on board the Adventure for fear of an Accident, though I confess I did not see any great danger in it”.
On 10 September, Furneaux wrote, “Departed this life Mr Samuel Kempe, Midshipman”. According to Bayly, Kempe, “departed this life of a Putrid fever which he contracted at St Jago, he recovered so far as to be able to walk about but for want of taking proper care of himself catched cold & had a relapse”. Arthur Kempe, a cousin, was a lieutenant in the ship.
The next day, Cooper wrote, “Punish’d Richard Lee Seaman & Frank Taylor Marine 1 dzn las for Insolence & disrespect to the offr of the watch”.
On 14 September, Furneaux wrote, “At ½ past 9 am The Resolution sent her boat onboard to compare the Watches and Lunar Observations; the latter agreed within 10 Miles, the former one Degree... At ½ past 11 the Boat returned. Made sail”. According to Cook, “Captn Furneaux dine[d] with me to day”.
The next day, the ships passed, without seeing, the island of Ascension. Two days later, Furneaux “Served Sour Krout to the Ship’s Company”.
On 24 September, Cooper wrote, “Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn”. Three days later, “Hoisted the Cutter out, & sent her on board the Adventure with Mr Wales to Compare the Watches”.
On 27 September, wrote Bayly, “Capt Furx Mr Falkener & my Self went on Board the Resolution to dinner & spent the afternoon on board, & Lieutena[n]t Charls Clark dined on board the Adventure, returning on board our respective ships in the evenin after spending the afternoon very agreeable”. John Richard Falconar was a sailor.
The next day, Furneaux wrote, “saw a sail to the westward, the Resolution brought to in order to speak to her”. According to Cooper, “The Adventure made the Sigl for a Sail to the SW, standing to the SE”. A few hours later, “we intended speaking to the Snow [a two-masted vessel] to the Westward. Shorten’d sail for her to come up with us & hoisted our Colours”. Later on, “The Snow astern hoisted Portuguese Colours, being little wind we made sail again”.
On 30 September, Furneaux wrote, “Punished John Cronean [a sailor] with a dozen lashes for theft”.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 35, volume 45, number 3 (2022).
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