Home > 225 Years Ago: April - June 1772

225 Years Ago: April - June 1772

Hodges portrait             of Cook In April, 1772, the Resolution and Adventure were in wet dock in Deptford getting ready for sea.
On the 9th, James Cook wrote to the Navy Board "His Majestys Sloop Resolution under my command is so very full of Provisions & Stores that it will be impossible for me to allow any one Man, or set of Men, a single Chest to keep the few necessary Cloathing &ca they may have; I pray you will be pleased to order for this purpose, canvas bags to be made for each man, about a yard in length, and the Resolution to be supply’d therewith." It was agreed.

That day "we saild from Deptford and the same evening stop’d a long side the sheer hulk at Woolwich where we were detain’d by contrary Winds".

The following day he wrote to the Admiralty Secretary, Philip Stephens, "Agreeable to their Lordships order, I have purchased all the Articles intended to be sent out in the Resolution and Adventure (and which are now on board) amounting to Three hundred and Nine pounds One Shilling and Four pence, as will appear by the inclosed papers, which I pray you will be pleased to lay before their Lord Ships and move them to order me to be repaid." They included "Caps & Hatts of Hen. Dekor... Ribbans [of] Jos. Vaux... Beads [of] Jno Howard...Kettles & Wire [of] Geo. Pengree."

On 12th April Anders Sparrman arrived in Table Bay [South Africa] having left Sweden in January. After a few days he became a teacher to six children of the Swedish Kirsten family and an interpreter between Kirsten and the French.

The next day the Admiralty Secretary sent Cook a supply of instruments for the use of William Wales, the astronomer, which were "to be stowed in a proper manner and place".

Three days later the Admiralty directed the Navy Board to pay Messrs Boulton and Fothergill of Birmingham £80 14s 3d for articles supplied as presents with which to win natives’ friendship etc., such as iron utensils and shot, and a further £50 for making a die and striking off 2,000 medals to be distributed to natives of "such new discovered countries as the sloops may touch at".

The Ships Move to Long Reach

On the 22nd Cook took "Advantage of a Westerly wind" to move his ship. He wrote to the Admiralty Secretary, "Please to acquaint my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty with the arrival of His Majestys Sloop Resolution under my command at Long Reach, in order to take in her Guns and other Ordnance Stores, which could not be done in Gailions Reach, there not being there a sufficient depth of Water for the Sloop to lay with safety". Two days later the ship was "join’d by the Adventure".

On 29th "we received on board our party of Marines consisting of Lieutenant Edgcumbe, one Serjeant two Corpls one Drum and fifteen Private. The Adventure also took on board her Marines consisting of a Lieutenant Serjeant Corperal, Drum and eight private. The Resolutions complement was now 112 men and the Adventures 81".

On 2nd May "Mr Banks gave an entertainment on board to the Earl of Sandwich, the French Embassador Cont de Guines and several other persons of distinction". According to Joseph Gilbert, Master, they were saluted "with three chears & 17 guns at their coming on board & going out of the ship". Cook also noted "scarce a day past on which she was not crowded with Strangers who came on board for no other purpose but to see the Ship in which Mr Banks was to sail round the world."

On 4 May the Admiralty ordered Furneaux to proceed to The Downs. On the same day the Admiralty Secretary wrote "As Cook wishes to be absent a few days longer, he is to order his 1st lieutenant to proceed to Downs with sloop, there to remain till further orders." The first lieutenant was Robert Palliser Cooper, a relation of Hugh Palliser.

The First Death of the Voyage

Before she went "in the night of the 7th Mr Sandford one of the Midshipmen fell out of the Launch... and was unfortunatly drown’d, he was a young man of good parts and much esteem’d by the officers".

On the 9th the Admiralty ordered the Navy Board to make payment to the officers and men of Resolution and Adventure, in advance, 6 months’ wages, so that they could make provision for their families.

There were no major problems with Furneaux’s ship, and on 11th the Admiralty ordered him to proceed to Plymouth Sound and await for further orders. However, he did report that he was unable to procure two carpenter’s mates. The Commissioners at Plymouth were ordered to let him have any two shipwrights out of the yard who were willing to go and if none offered then to discharge two from the guardships into the sloop.

On 14th the Board of Longitude awarded "To Mr Larcum Kendall of Furnival’s Inn Court, watchmaker, for a new watch machine constructed by him in consequence of Board’s orders, wherein some of the expensive parts of that made by Mr John Harrison for the discovery of longitude at sea have been left out, and other alterations made in order to reduce the price and so bring such watch machines within general use - £200."

The Resolution Proves Crank

The same day Cooper reported to Cook from the Resolution’s new berth in Hole Reach "I take this opportunity of informing you of our leaving Gravesend this morning with a moderate breeze with the wind from ENE to ESE, and in working down the River, find the ship so exceedingly crank that though the light colliers working down the river, some with top gallant sails and all their whole topsails and staysails when we could not with safety (though the wind was steady and without flurries) carry our single Reeft Topsails with the Jib and main topmast staysails: the two latter we was obliged to haul down, the ship frequently fell down within 3 streaks of the port cills, at the same time the ship not at all under command, with great difficulty and attention able to get her about. The Pilot desires me to inform you that he cannot think of taking her further than the Nore with security to the ship or without hazarding his reputation in the attempt, unless with a fair wind... I think her an exceeding dangerous and unsafe ship. However, in the morning we shall proceed in our way for the Nore when I shall write to you again".

According to William Falconer’s "Marine Dictionary" of 1780, the term crank means that a ship "is rendered incapable of carrying sail without being exposed to the danger of oversetting."

Charles Clerke writes to Joseph Banks

Charles Clerke, second lieutenant, who had sailed on the Endeavour, wrote to Joseph Banks on 15 May,
"Resolution in Sea Reach / Sir / The Interest you must necessarily have in matters I now trouble you with, flatter myself will render any kind of apology unnecessary so will proceed without farther preface. We weigh’d anchor at Graves-End this morning about 10 O’clock, with a fine Breeze from the Eastward, the wind from that quarter, laid us under the necessity of working down the Reaches which work, I’m sorry to tell you, we found the Resolution very unequal to; for whilst several light Colliers were working down with their whole Topsails, Staysails &c. one small Brig in particular with her Top Gallant Sails; these Light Vessels so upright, that a Marble wou’d hardly rowl from Windward to Leeward, the Resolution I give you my honour, under her reeft Topsails, Jibb & Main Top Mast Staysail, heel’d within three Streaks of her Gun Ports. She is so very bad, that the Pilot declares, he will not run the risk of his Character so far, as to take charge of her, farther than the Nore without a fair Wind, that he cannot with safety to himself attempt working her to the Downs. Hope you know me too well, to impute my giving this intelligence to any ridiculous apprehensions for myself, by God I’ll go to Sea in a Grog Tub if desir’d, or in the Resolution as soon as you please; but must say, I do think her by far the most unsafe Ship, I ever saw or heard of. however, if you think proper to embark for the South Pole in a Ship, which a Pilot, (who I think is, by no means a timorous man) will not undertake to carry down the River; all I can say, is, that you shall be most chearfury attended, so long as we can keep her above Water by / Sir / Your Much Oblig’d & H’ble Servt Chas Clerke".The same day the Navy Board wrote to the Admiralty saying that the trouble must be attributed to the accommodation for passengers and the quantity of heavy stowage. It was proposed that she should be ordered to Sheerness and alterations made in her and the guns altered from 6 pounders to 4 pounders.

The next day the Admiralty Secretary wrote to Furneaux for an account of the behaviour of his ship in its passage from Longreach to The Downs and then to Plymouth.

Cook’s Opinion of the Resolution

Three days later Cook wrote anxiously to the Admiralty Secretary, "...I understand that it has been suggested, that I never thought her, or these kind of Vessels proper for the service she is going upon: I beg you will acquaint their Lordships that I do now, and ever did think her the most proper Ship for this service I ever saw, and that from the knowlidge and experience I have had of these sort of Vessels I shall always be of opinion that only such are proper to be sent on Discoveries to very distant parts."

The same day William Appleby, pilot of the Resolution, was call’d in to the Navy Board and "discoursed on the qualities of the said Sloop. He acquainted the Board that he took charge of her at Deptford and Piloted her to the Warp below Sheerness. That she is very crank owing to her being over built with the additional Works raised on her. That he is well acquainted with these kind of Ships having served his time in them, and been Mate and Master of several of them, and that they are of a built for burthen and stowage. That he is of opinion if the additions were taken away, she will be as good as any Ship of that kind. That he never heard of her being esteemed Crank when a Merchant Ship or could say any thing to that effect having never seen or known the Ship before."

On the 21st Cook wrote to the Admiralty Secretary, "Please to acquaint their Lordships with my repairing to His Majestys Sloop Resolution under my Command yesterday, that the intended alterations go on with great alertness, and that I shall not only forward them but take every other step to put the Ship in a condition to put [to] Sea with all Possible expadition - I beg leave also to acquaint you, that sence the Ship came along side the jetty, a stranger came into the yard who knew her in the Merchant Service, he with great confidence, and some warmth, asserted that at that time she, not only was a stiff Ship, but had as many other good quallities as any Ship ever built in Whitby, this tends to refute some false suggestions that have been thrown out against her. I can only assure you that there does not remain the least doubt but what she will a[n]swer every wish’d for purpose & am’ etc."

There were other problems. Cook wrote to the Victualling Board reporting the bread supply to be damp and mouldy due to the greenness of the wood lining of the bread store. He suggested that a new supply of fresh bread be issued. The Board ordered that 130 empty bisket bags be forthwith sent to the sloop to bring up her bread, with more to follow.

On 24th "Mr Banks and Dr Solander came down to take a view of the Sloop as she was now altered and return’d to town again the same eveng and soon after Mr Banks declared his resolution not to go the Voyage, aledging that the Sloop was neither roomy nor convenient enough for his purpose".

Johann and George Forster Become Involved

On 26th May Johann Forster wrote in his journal, "Mr Irwin [Charles Irving, surgeon and inventor], who had not seen me ever since I left London in the year 1767, came late in the Evening & in a very mysterious manner told me, that Mr Banks did not go in the Resolution to the South Seas, & asked whether I would go; I told if a proper provision were made for me & my Family, I would not hesitate one moment but my Son George must in that case go with me, being both as a Naturalist & a tolerable Draughtsman well qualified for to assist me. Mr Irwin seemed to like it, desired me to keep upon this application the strictest secrecy, & told that he had it in his power to recommend me in such a manner that I would be certainly employed in the Expedition, & as he was to breakfast with Mr Stephens [Philip Stephens, secretary to the Admiralty] he would speak to him about it."

On 28th May the Admiralty Secretary wrote to the Navy Board that Banks had this day informed their Lordships that he did not intend to proceed in Resolution on her present voyage; accommodation, therefore, was to be prepared only for the captain, officers and the astronomer, who was going at the request of the Board of Longitude.

On the 30th "Mr Palliser the Comptroller of the Navy paid us a Visit in order to inspect into the several alterations that had been & were still to make, for this gentleman had taken upon him in spite of all that had been alledged against her to make her compleatly fit not only for the sea but for the service she was intended for, indeed if his advice had not been over ruled at first a great deal of unnecessary trouble and expence would have been saved not only to the Crown but to Mr Banks and every other person concerned."

The 1st June saw Cook writing to the Navy Board, "Mr Hunt, Master Builder of this Yard, being desireous that tryal may be made, in the Resolution, of the composition he has invented to prevent Worms from eating into Ships Bottoms &c& I pray you will be pleased to order two of her Boats bottoms to be paid therewith to be supply’d with two or three hundred weight for such other tryals as may offer in the Course of the Voyage, or you are pleased to direct, all which is humbly subm[i]tted to your consideration". It was agreed.

Captain Cook writes to Joseph Banks

The next day Cook wrote to Banks, "Sir / I receiv’d your letter by one of your People acquainting me that you had order’d every thing belonging to you to be removed out of the Ship and desireing my assistance therein.
I hope Sir you will find this done to your satisfaction, and with that care the present hurry and confused state of the Ship required - some few articles which were for the Mess I have kept, for which together with the Money I have remaining in my hands I shall account with you for when I come to Town...
The Cook & two French Horn men are at liberty to go when ever they please.
If it should not be convenient to send down for what may be still remaining in the Ship of yours they shall be sent you by / Sir / Your Most Obt & very humble Servant /Jams Cook
I Pray my best respects to the Dr & sence I am not to have your Company in the Resolution I most sin[c]erely wish you success in all your exploring undertakens."

On the same day Forster was told that Lord Sandwich "seemed pleased with... my character".

On 5th Forster wrote in his journal "Ld Sandwich suspecting that Mr Banks would endeavour to obtain a new Ship, he went to His Majesty, & laid the plan of sending me on the Expedition, with the Character given me by Mr Barrington before the King, who was graciously pleased to approve of my going on the Expedition & by this Ld Sandwich hindered any further application from Mr Banks side." And the next day "The chief members of the Council of ye Royal Society signed a Certificate in my favour, recommending me as a proper person for going on the Expedition."

On 7th Cook wrote to the Admiralty Secretary "All the alteration that have been made in His Majestys Sloop Resolution under my command, are now in a fair way of being finished in a few Days, painting excepted, I pray you will be pleased to move my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to grant me a Weeks leave of absence from the Sloop in order to come to town to settle some private affairs of my own before I take my final departure." The following day the Admiralty Secretary wrote to Captain Suckling, Senior Officer, Chatham, granting Cook’s leave.

On the 10th "the Earl of Sandwich having imbarked on board the Augusta Yacht in order to Visit the several Dock yards and inspect into the state of the Navy, anchor’d at the Nore and soon after landed in the yard and came on board the Resolution. His Lordship inspected into and was pleased to approve of all the alterations that had been made".

Johann Forster is Appointed to the Resolution

On 11th Forster wrote "From this day I could first consider myself as being appointed by his Majesty on the Expedition. The Order signed by the king imported that 1795.£ should be paid to me by the Exchequer".

The following day the Admiralty Secretary wrote to the Navy Board that John Reinhold Forster and George Forster, "gentlemen skilled in natural history and drawing", would be going and directing that accommodation should be made in the Resolution.

According to Forster on 13th "Came to see Mr Banks & begged of him the favour to give me some informations relative to my Equipment, adding that I knew very well the necessity of common Articles, but I thought that by his experience he must have found out, the convenience or inconvenience of many things, which could not be foreseen at such a distance, or did not occur to one who had not been on the Voyage: Mr Banks declared he would give me any information & I should ask him Questions & he would answer me... then he desired me to come Saturday next. I met Capt Cook that day at Mr Banks’s & went with him to the Admiralty, where a board of longitude was to be held, in order to see there Mr Hornsby [Thomas Hornsby, professor of Astronomy at Oxford and a member of the Board of Longitude]; & then went with Capt Cook home, to have him to dinner."

Shells from Endeavour sent to Linnaeus

On 15 June, 1772, Marmaduke Tunstall, an English ornithologist and owner of a large collection of shells, sent about 200 to Carl Linnaeus with a letter saying they had been "brought from the South Seas, New Zealand & other places by the ship Endeavour".

The same day Cook wrote to the Navy Board, "Understanding from Mr Stephens that two Botanists will be sent out by the King in His Majestys Sloop Resolution under my command, I pray you will be pleased to order the two fore mast Cabbins under the Quarter Deck to be rebuilt for their reception, with all possible dispatch", which was agreed.

The next day he was ordered to proceed to Plymouth.

Charles Clerke writes to Joseph Banks

On the 17th, Charles Clerke wrote to Banks from the Resolution at Sheerness " Sir / I receivd yours by your servant and am very much oblig’d for the Cagg of Nails - think I now set out compleatly freighted for the South Sea Marts, hope to make a good trading Voyage of it, go matters how they will, and stow away in a curious Cabinet of Miti [mitai? the Tahitian word for good or beautiful] curiosities at my return. - flatter myself with the hopes of making an addition to the Burlington Street collection, will certainly make some increase, and I hope a good one; for shall be happy my actions shou’d bespeak my sense of your civilities and friendship. - Must again express my unhappiness that I cannot have the pleasure of attending you, but can’t help it, two or three Years will blow all over, and replace me again in Old London and its Purlieu’s, Captain of at least my own Carcass, to dispose of it as I please: when I assure you, you shall never want a Sailors attendance to run any where on this side of H - so long as remains above Water / Your Much Oblig’d / & Devoted Servant Chas Clerke Believe our stay here will be 12 or 14 days longer-the Gentlemen of the Gunroom intreat your acceptance of their respects & Compliments"

On the 18th the Admiralty Secretary wrote to the Victualling Board that the naturalists have stated that "it would be of great use if they were provided with 4 puncheons of double proof spirits of 86 gals. each for preserving specimens".

On the 20th Forster’s baggage "was sent on board the Resolution by the Sheerness paquet."

Cook Takes Leave of His Family

The next day Cook "tooke leave of my Family and set out, in company with Mr Wales the Astronomer for Sheerness".

On 25th the Admiralty wrote to Cook that he was to give the naturalists, "John Reinhold Forster and Geo. Forster, and observers, Wm. Wales" all the "convenient accommodation, facilities to land when opportunity arises." Also sent were "very particular instructions about the watch machines which are going out for trial under the observers". He was also ordered "To make use of recommendation of Prince of Orange in case of touching at any of ports or settlements of Dutch East India Company". The same day the Admiralty wrote to Furneaux that he was to be under the command of Cook.

The next day the Admiralty Secretary sent to Cook the East India Company’s private signals for his and Furneaux’s guidance. John Ibbetson, the Secretary of the Board of Longitude wrote to Cook entrusting to his care a "deal case containing three mahogany boxes and keys and the clock machines to be used on the voyage". The same day the ship was moved to the Downs.

The Forsters Leave London

The same day Forster, "Having compleated my Equipment, I took leave of my Family & Friends & took a post-chaise for Plymouth, The Resolution having left Sheerness ye 22d.
We passed through Brenton a dirty town, came to Hounslow, all a fine & cultivated country, then passed Hounslow-heath, filled with furze & gallows, both a disgrace to the Country. Dined at Stainsbridge: passed over the uncultivated hills on Bagshot common, which furnish ye London Markets with the finest mutton, but in my opinion would be better imployed in plantations chiefly of oak. The same country continues to Murrelgreen, whence we went to Basingstock an ancient town; we passed Sutton & Stockbridge, & having crossed the bleak & dreary heath on the plains of Salisbury, we reached that ancient city: the spire is remarkable on account of its height & pointed figure & has walls round the city. Our road lay still on the same barren heath. The bottom of all the country is chalk.

The ship sailed from The Downs bound for Plymouth.

On 27th Forster continued "We reached Barnetdown a single house & then came to Blandford." His journey that day took him and his son via Dorchester, "a tolerable good place", Bridport, which "has a manufacture of Sailcloth which employs a good number of hands", Axminster, where "carpets are manufactured", Honiton, whose "chief Staple commodity are coarse cloaths", Exeter, "a very disagreeable dirty place, surrounded by old decaying walls, its streets are extremely narrow, go up & down hill, & make the city to a dismall place".

The next day they passed through Chudleigh, a "small inconsiderable town", Ashburton "another small town. The Inn we put up, was occupied by a Scotsman called Kenneth Ross who overcharged every article of our bad fare, & gave us most sorry horses & a surlly, impudent driver." In the Afternoon they reached Plymouth, "a place with narrow irregular winding streets, which have a Channel with running fresh water in their middle, & though this is a great inconvenience to carriages, which must always have one wheel in the channel, & to people walking in the Streets, who are constantly splashed by the horses; it has on the other hand the Advantage of carrying off all the filth & impurities of the town, especially at night, when the contents of a great many pots with humane excrements are emptied into it, as few people have regular little house in this town. The recession of the Sea at ebbtide leaves a great part of the interior harbour dry & causes an untolerable stench."

On 29th they "came to Plymouthdock a kind of new town 2 miles from Plymouth with a number of good houses & regular streets, which are improving every day. The dockyard is beyond this, inclosed in high walls, & none but those who are belonging to it are admitted: we wanted to wait upon Lord Sandwich, who was gone up the river 10 or 12 miles, in the Afternoon I went on board the Adventure, who lay near mount Edgecombe in Pool, but found neither Capt Furneaux, nor Lieut. Kempe on board, for whom I had letters from the honble Capt Byron [John Byron, circumnavigator and, currently, governor of Newfoundland]."

On 30th June, 225 years ago, the Admiralty wrote to Cook "Whereas we have engaged Mr William Hodges, a Lanskip Painter to proceed in his Majesty’s Sloop under your Command on her present intended Voyage in order to make Drawings and Paintings of such places in the Countries you may touch at in the Course of the said Voyage as may be proper to give a more perfect idea thereof than can be formed from written descriptions only; You are hereby required and directed to receive the said Mr William Hodges on board giving him all proper accomodation and assistance, victualling him as the Ship’s Company and taking care that he does diligently employ himself in making Drawings or Paintings of such Places as you may touch at that may be worthy of notice in the course of your Voyage as also of such other Objects and things as may fall within the Compass of his Abilities."

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1391, volume 20, number 2 (1997).

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