Home > 225 Years Ago: January - March 1779

225 Years Ago: January - March 1779

Detail  from Chart of the Sandwich Islands
Detail from Chart of the Sandwich Islands
On 1st January, 1779 Captain James Cook in the Resolution and Charles Clerke in the Discovery were independently trying to round the east point of the island of Hawaii, having been separated a few days earlier. According to Cook "the new year was ushered in with very hard rain… When the rain ceased, the sky cleared and the breeze freshened. Being at this time about miles from the land, several Canoes came off with fruit and roots and at last with hogs… having got fruit &ca for four or five days and pigs for two, we made sail, with a view of proceeding to the SW or lee side of the island to look for the Discovery. But as the Wind as at South it was necessary to stretch first to the Eastward… The three following days were spent in runing down the SE side [of the] island".


On 4th Henry Roberts, master's mate on the Resolution, wrote that this part of the island was "in resemblance much like the Island of Assension in the Atlantic."

The same day, wrote David Samwell, surgeon on the Discovery, "we stood to the Westward for the Land, having weathered the most easterly point of Ou-why-ee, at 5 in the afternoon saw the Land right a head." Still aboard was the native who had been unable to get ashore since he came aboard the ship on 23rd December. However, the next day "we were close in with the Land… a great number of Canoes came off to us… a few of the Indians came on board but could give us no intelligence of the Resolution… Many people collected on the Beach to look at the Ship. Our Indian Guest… packed a few things together which had been given to him and went ashore… About 2 o'Clock in the Afternoon we saw some appearance of a Harbour, upon which we brought the Ship to & sent the great Cutter ashore to examine it… About 5 o'Clock the Boat returned having found no Harbour."

The same day Cook "in the Morning passed the South point of the island… from which we found the coast to trend N 60 W. On this point stands a pritty large Village, the inhabitants of which thronged off to the Ship with hogs and women. It was not possible to keep the latter out of the Ship and no women I ever met with were more ready to bestow their favours, indeed it appeared to me that they came with no other view. As we had now got a quantity of salt I purchased no hogs but what were fit for salting, refuseing all that were under size, in general they bring no other at first, but when they found we took none but large ones, several went a shore and returned with some, however we could seldom get one above 50 or 60 lb weight. As to fruit and roots we did not want and it was well we did not for it was very little of either they brought with them, indeed the Country did not seem capable of producing many of either having been distroyed by a Volcano, though as yet we had seen nothing like one upon the island, but the devastation it had made was visible to the naked eye. This part of the Coast is sheltered from the reigning winds but we could find no bottom to Anchor upon, a line of 160 fathoms did not reach it at the distance of half a mile from the shore."

John Henry Martin, master's mate on the Resolution, recorded "Punished James Dermot with 12 lashes for passing Tin as Iron on ye Natives."

"The next Morning" continued Cook, "Being near the shore I sent Mr Bligh the Master in a boat to Sound the Coast with orders to land and look for fresh Water. On his return he reported that at two cables lengths from the shore he had no soundings with a 160 fathom of line; that where he landed he found no fresh water, but rain water lying in holes in the rocks and that brackish with the spray of the sea, and that the surface of the Country was wholy composed of large slags and ashes here and there partly covered with plants. Between 10 and 11 oclock we saw the Discovery coming round the South point of the island and at 1 PM she joined us".


The Ships Reunite


Also on the 6th, Samwell on the Discovery wrote "This part of the Island is mountainous & entirely bare of Trees, with large Patches here & there covered with streams of Lava extending from the Hills to the Sea. About 11 o'Clock we got round a point where we found a fine Bay called by the Natives Ataw [Kau]. As we were standing into it to come to an anchor we saw the Resolution from the Mast head to leeward of us; we immediately bore down on her with a fine Breeze and about 2 o'Clock came up with her lying to about three Miles off Shore".

George Gilbert, AB on the Resolution, summarised this time thus: "After standing off and on for upwards of a month, and having coasted along near 2/3 of the Island we began to be in want of water; therefore the master with two boats well armed we sent inshore to look for a harbour, and very luckily found a small bay opposite to us which was the first we had seen the least appearance of. But however as this could not be preceived till we came within two miles of it; we were inclined to think we probably might have passed others of the same kind. The next morning being about the 16 of January we stood in for it, with a light breeze, and as we approached near the shore we were surrounded with upwards of 1,000 Canoes at the mean rate of six people in each and so very anxious were they to see us, that those who had none swam of in great numbers, and remained along side in the water, both men, women and children for four or five hours, without seeming tired; the decks both above and below were entirely covered with them, so that when we wanted to work the ship we could not come at the ropes without first driving the greatest part of them overboard; which they bore with the utmost cheerfullness and good nature jumping from every part of her into the water, as fast as they could, appearing to be much diverted at it, and would come onboard again when the business was over."

According to Samwell, "Captn Cook ordered 2 or 3 of the great Guns to be fired with ball in order to shew the Chiefs the effect of them & to what distance they would carry, at which they were much astonished."


Arrival at Kealakekua Bay


On the 17th Cook wrote "In the Evening Mr Bligh returned and reported that he had found a bay in which was good anchorage and fresh water tolerable easy to come at, into this bay I resolved to go to refit the Ships and take in water. As the night approached the Indians retired to the shore, a good [many] however desired to Sleep on board, curiosity was not their only Montive, at least not with some of them, for the next Morning several things were Missing which determined me not to entertain so many another night."


by John Webber
Rudiger Joppien and Bernard Smith wrote in their book The Art of Captain Cook's Voyages, The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768 – 1771 (Yale University Press, 1985), "A view taken from the shore. The two ships at anchor to the left with native craft about them. Native habitations to be seen along the shore are part of the town of Kealakekua. Near the houses sailors rolling barrels... In the central foreground canoes are putting off towards the ships, and a man riding a surfboard."



According to John Law, surgeon on the Resolution, the natives "began today to make use of their fingers too freely... among other things the Captns Bunch of Keys, which he got Again by the Assistance of an Aree or Chief." James Burney, First Lieutenant on the Discovery, noted "the Resolution lost the Lids of the Ships Coppers which were conveyed out of the Ship by some Visitors who were allowed to sleep on board. the Morning we Anchord, almost all our Backstay Tackles were cut out of the Chains, for the Sake of the Iron Hooks and Thimbles, and carried off. Several other things which were part of the Ship's Furniture, went the same way."


Cook's Last Written Words


"I have no where in this Sea seen such a number of people assembled at one place, besides those in the Canoes all the Shore of the bay was covered with people and hundreds were swiming about the Ships like shoals of fish. We should have found it difficult to have kept them in order had not a Chief or Servant of Terrio-boos named Parea now and then [exerted] his authority by turning or rather driving them all out of the Ships. Among our numerous Visiters was a man named Tou-ah-ah, who we soon found belonged to the Church, he intorduced himself with much ceremony, in the Course of which he presented me with a small pig, two Cocoanuts and a piece of red cloth which he wraped round me: in this manner all or most of the chiefs or people of Note interduce them selves, but this man went farther, he brought with him a large hog and a quant[it]y of fruits and roots all of which he included in the present. In the after noon I went a shore to view the place, accompaned by Touahah, Parea, Mr King and others; as soon as we landed Touahah took me by the hand and conducted me to a large Morai, the other gentlemen with Parea and four or five more of the Natives followed."

Cook's journal ends with this entry. J. C. Beaglehole in his book "The Journals of Captain James Cook: Vol. III: The Voyage of the Resolution and Discovery, 1776-1780" (Hakluyt Society, 1967) considers "it is impossible to believe that he committed nothing at all to paper after his entry for Sunday, 17 January 1779, whatever his process of composition was; and we can but lament the misfortune of this loss."


Ashore to Stay


John Ledyard, corporal of marines on the Resolution, wrote "Cook went on shore in his Pennace attended only by his barges crew and two of his the chiefs, and landed upon a fine beach before the west part of the town of Kirekakooa. His crew were without arms and had himself only his hanger, which he never went without".

According to Samwell "Capt. Cook attended by two other Gentlemen went on shore to see for a convenient place for erecting the Tents, Astronomers Observatories &c. As he went along a Herald walked before him repeatg some Words & the Indians cleared the way & prostrated themselves on their Faces before Captn Cook." Burney noted "All the people, except those of the Priesthood, laying prostrate or rather on their Hands and Knees with their Heads bowed down to the Ground".

King heard "3 or 4 men… repeating a sentence, wherein the word Erono [Lono] was always mention'd, this is the name by which the Captn has for some time been distinguish'd by the Natives… we saw numbers of Inhabitants Prostrate, as they were at our first Visit at Atoui." The ships had visited Kauai, one of the western islands in the Hawaiian Group in January 1778.


The First Ceremony Honouring Cook


Samwell continued "A Priest whose name is Coo-a-ha [Koa'a] attended by others of the same order led Captn Cook to the top of a Pile of stones called O-he-kee-aw, which is a sacred place, & on which the Images of their Gods are placed & two or three Houses & kind of alters all dedicated to religious Uses; on the Pales [poles] with which this place is surrounded were stuck twenty human Skulls, of Men who had been offered as Sacrifices to their Gods. The Priest performed various Ceremonies on this Occasion, he killed a pig at Captn Cook's feet, at the same time chanting some words in concert with his Attendants, he then went round & touched the Images one by one… The priest took some of the fat which probably he looked upon as holy oil & anointed Captn Cooks Arms & other parts with it, the Priests at the same time chanting their Hymns or whatever they may be called. These Ceremonies seem to have been intended as a welcome reception to Capt. Cook into this Country." According to King, Cook "was quite passive, & sufferd Koah to do with him as he chose".

Samwell continued, "A Spot was found for erecting the Tents & every thing agreed upon between Captn Cook & the Chiefs, and after taking a short walk in which the Indians shew'd him the highest respect, prostrating themselves on their Faces as he passed along, he returned on board accompanyed by some of the Indian Chiefs."


Setting Up Ashore


On 18th "We got our observatories and tents onshore here as usual" wrote Gilbert "and pitched them upon a large oblong piece of ground walled round with stones". According to King "the field was tabooed by the priests, sticking upon the Walls their Wands. We had a party of 6 marines & a Corporal under their Officer, to protect those that were to be on shore; Mr Philips orderd the Marines when on duty to appear in their Regimentals & like Soldiers; he made some other regulations, tending to keep up a respect amongst the People, & not let the Natives handle their Pieces, or to shew them the Method of loading &c &c. The Chief of the Village or district call'd Koho was recompenced to his hearts disire for the injury we did the young sweet Potatoe roots. The Natives sat upon the Walls markg our boundary, & none offerd to interrupt or come within the Taboo'd space without permission. All things promis'd for the Short time the Captn means to stay (for we are not to get the Clock & Telescopes ashore) more quietness than in any place we have been at."

Molesworth Philips was second lieutenant of marines in the Resolution. The corporal was Ledyard, who wrote, "As soon as the sun set I ordered some additional sentries, and though the wondering Indians did not entirely evacuate the surrounding walls until dark, yet they retired in the greatest peace and good order."

Gilbert wrote "The sailmakers were sent onshore with the greatest part of our sails to repair them. They being now very much worn; as was all our rigging which we carefully overhauled here."

According to Ledyard "Mr, King the 2d Lieut. of the Resolution and Astronomer in chief had the command of the tents, accompanied by the Astronomer of the Discovery". King enjoyed the life ashore. "Whilst we were in so very easy & tranquil a state, on board they were full of confusion & hurry, the Number of People particularly women obligd them (often many times a day) to make a Clearance, but in two or three days, their Curiosity being gratified, they became less numerous & troublesome. The Caulkers were set upon the Ships sides, which was the only material duty going forward on board. Our first enquiries [were] who was the Chief of the Island, where he was & if he would not, come to visit us. Pareea told us that he was at Mowee but would come over & be here in 3 or 4 days; he call'd himself T'akanee to Terreeoboo [Kalani'opu'u]". Maui had been visited in November 1778.

King continued "From the 19 to the 24 when Pareea & Koah left us, as they said to fetch or meet Terree oboo who was landed to Windward of the Island, no very material transaction happen'd except an unbounded supply of hogs, & Vegetables, from the Priesthood to us who lived on Shore, as well as boat loads sent to the Ship.

On 19th Samwell wrote "Yesterday an Indian stole the Butchers Knife unperceived. Parea being informed of it went immediately out of the Ship & in a short time brought the Knife back; the Chiefs have always very good intelligence & there is hardly any thing can be stole, be it ever so secretly done, but they are able to recover if they choose it. These People pay the greatest attention to Captn Cook, having a very high opinion of his Station & Quality, which he every where maintains by his happy method of managing Indians which never fails of obtaining their Friendship and Esteem.


The Second Ceremony Honouring Cook



by John Webber
Samwell continued "To day a Ceremony was performed by the Priests in which he was invested by them with the Title and Dignity of Orono, which is the highest Rank among these Indians and is a Character that is looked upon by them as partaking something of divinity; The Scene was among some cocoa nut Trees close by Ohekeeaw, before a sacred building which they call 'Ehare no Orono' or the Temple of Orono.

Captn Cook attended by three other Gentlemen was seated on a little pile of Stones at the foot of an ill formed Idol stuck round with rags and decayed Fruit, the other Gentlemen sat on one side of him and before him sat several Priests and behind them a number of Servants with a barbequed Hog."

King was "here again made to support the Captains Arms, & after dressing him, a young pig was brought by Koah, (when they went thro' a deal of ceremony in presenting it to him, he & about a dozen standing in a line;)… afterwards the Performers sat down, Kava was made & presented".


After the ceremony, wrote Samwell "the Company dispersed except two of the Priests that took Captain Cook to another part of the Island about 5 Miles off, where much such another Ceremony was gone through. In their Way thither a Herald went before them singing, and thousands of people prostrated themselves as they passed along and put their Hands before their Faces as if it was deem'd Vilation or Sacrilege to look at them."

On 21st, wrote Samwell, "Canoes about us in great Numbers trading. These Indians like those of all the South Sea Islands will steal whenever an Opportunity offers, tho' upon the whole it must be allowed that they are not such notorious Thieves as the Otaheiteans… Captn Clerke going on shore this Afternoon was received by the Priests with the usual Ceremonies paid to Capt. Cook. These People are so eager after our Iron that they pick the Sheathing Nails out of the Ship's bottom, & our Men pull as many as they can conveniently on the inside to give to the Girls, so that between them both was there not a strict Eye kept over them we should have the Ships pulled to pieces at this place."


Surfing Observed


The next day "As two or three of us were walking along shore to day we saw a number of boys & young Girls playing in the Surf, which broke very high on the Beach as there was a great swell rolling into the Bay. In the first place they provide themselves with a thin board about six or seven foot long & about 2 broad, on these they swim off shore to meet the Surf, as soon as they see one coming they get them- selves in readiness & turn their sides to it, they suffer themselves to be involyed in it & then manage so as to get just before it or rather on the Slant or declivity of the Surf, & thus they lie with their Hands lower than their Heels laying hold of the fore part of the board which receives the force of the water on its under side, & by that means keeps before the wave which drives it along with an incredible Swiftness to the shore. The Motion is so rapid for near the Space of a stones throw that they seem to fly on the water, the flight of a bird being hardly quicker than theirs. On their putting off shore if they meet with the Surf too near in to afford them a tolerable long Space to run before it they dive under it with the greatest Ease & proceed further out to sea. Sometimes they fail in trying to get before the surf, as it requires great dexterity & address, and after struggling awhile in such a tremendous wave that we should have judged it impossible for any human being to live in it, they rise on the other side laughing and shaking their Locks & push on to meet the next Surf when they generally succeed, hardly ever being foiled in more than one attempt. Thus these People find one of their Chief amusements in that which to us presented nothing but Horror & Destruction, and we saw with astonishment young boys & Girls about 9 or ten years of age playing amid such tempestuous Waves that the hardiest of our seamen would have trembled to face, as to be involved in them among the Rocks, on which they broke with a tremendous Noise, they could look upon as no other than certain death. So true it is that many seeming difficulties are easily overcome by dexterity & Perseverance."

On 23rd Captain Clerke "went ashore at the Town of Kavaroa [Kaawaloa]. We were met by some Chiefs who kept the Croud at a distance & as we passed along made the people sit down; in a little time we were met by Parea who came to welcome Capt. Clerke on shore with a Pig, a Fowl & a Cocoa nut which were carryed by a Servant. He put a piece of red cloth round C. Cl.'s neck, with the ends of it hanging before and behind, he then put a piece of white Cloth in the same manner over my Shoulders & carryed us to his House. He ordered a matt to be spread for Us to sit on and he then withdrew, having left orders with his Servts to kill two pigs & roast them for our breakfast. He soon returned & brought a red & yellow feathered Cloak with him which he put on C. Cl. and then tyed a piece of Cloth round his waist like a Sash, & put another piece round mine."


An Excursion Inland


The next day "an order was issued by the Indian Chiefs forbidding all Canoes from coming to the ships on account of the King Kariopoo [Kalani'opu'u] being expected here to morrow or the next day; This interdiction, which they call Taboo, was strictly observed so that we had no Girls or a single person on board of us to day. Three of us to day taking Canicoa with us as a Guide made a short Excursion up the Country towards the Snowy Mountain. As we ascended the Hills we came among their Plantations where we saw a few Houses, here is a rich Soil tho' I believe it is no where very deep, being no more than a layer of Earth over the Lava of which I think it is probable the body of the Island is composed. Their plantations are divided from each other by thick low walls built with Lava. Here we found the Breadfruit Trees, Plantains, Taroo root, Sweet potatoes, Ginger root and Sugar Canes… The Woods are filled with birds of a most beautiful Plumage & some of a very sweet note, we bought many of them alive of the Indians who were employed in catching them with birdlime smeared on the end of a long rod which they thrust between the branches of the Trees."

On 25th "In the Afternoon the long expected Kariopoo arrived in the Bay & went on board the Resolution where Captn Cook received him according to his Quality. They entered into a league of Friendship by changing Names according to the Custom of these People, Captain Cook taking upon him the Name of Kariopoo & the King calling himself Co-kee. He seems to be above 60 years of age, is very tall & thin, seemingly much Emaciated by Debaucheries, tottering as he walks along, his Skin is very scurfy and his Eyes sore with drinking Ava… Captain Cook made him many presents with which he was very much pleased & at night took his Leave of us & went a shore to sleep. On his arrival the Taboo was taken off the Ships so that our old Sweethearts came to visit us to night as usual."


by John Webber
The next day King, ashore, wrote "At Noon Terreeoboo in a large Canoe attended by two others set out from the Village, & paddled towards the Ships in great state. In the first Canoe was Terreeoboo, In the Second Kao with 4 Images, the third was fill'd with hogs & Vegetables, as they went along those in the Center Canoe kept Singing with much Solemnity; from which we concluded that this procession had some of their religious ceremonys mixt with it;

but instead of going on board they came to our side, their appearance was very grand… we drew out our little guard to receive him, & the Captn observing that the King went on shore, followd him. After we had got into the Markee, the King got up & threw in a graceful manner over the Captns Shoulders the Cloak he himself wore, & put a featherd Cap upon his head, & a very handsome fly flap in his hand: besides which he laid down at the Captains feet 5 or 6 Cloaks more, all very beautiful, & to them of the greatest Value; his attendant brought 4 large hogs, with other refreshments which were also presented… The Captain carryed Terreeoboo, & as many of his attendants as the Pinnace could hold, on board the Resolution where they had presents given them, that made them happy."



Another Excursion Inland


Later that day, continued King, "A free leave was given to trade at our desire, & the bay in a short time became crouded with Canoes, leave was ask'd & granted for a party to go into the country & to attempt reaching the Snowy Mountain; This Party consisted of the Resolutions Gunner, Mr Vancover, a young gentleman of the Discovery, Mr Nelson sent out by Mr Banks to botanize; the Corporal we had on Shore, & three other men, they carried no arms of any kind, & set out at ½ past 3 this Afternoon with 4 of the Natives." Robert Anderson was the gunner on the Resolution, George Vancouver was a midshipman on the Discovery and David Nelson was a gardener from Kew.


Acts of Friendship


Meanwhile, on 27th James Trevenen, AB on the Resolution, wrote "A constant exchange of good offices, & mutual little acts of friendship obtained among us. I had once occasion to experience the good effects of it, where the assistance received seemed to flow entirely from a desire to be of service to those who wanted it without any view to interest. Having occasion with two other midshipmen, to go off to the Ship at night thro' a considerable surf, the Canoe we had engaged filled & sunk at about 20 yards from the Shore to which we had to swim, and land on a rocky beach that was difficult of access. Some little children playing near the spot had observed us, & whilst one or two ran to the houses close by for better assistance, the rest came down to us crying and leaning over the rock reached out their little hands to endeavour to help us up it. they afterwards conducted us to the village, running by our side & uttering the most endearing expressions of pity & concern. We were equally well received at the Village, another large canoe was immediately launched & we were conveyed in safety to the Ship".

Also that day, "The Resolutions rudder was sent on shore", wrote King, "in order to repair some of the Pintles, & to fix Iron hoops over the head piece that was much Shaken." According to Falconer's Marine Dictionary of 1780 the pintles were "certain pins or hooks, fastened upon the back part of the rudder, with their points downwards, in order to enter into, and rest upon the googings, fixed on the stern-post to hang the rudder."

On 28th Samwell remarked "As these people behave to us on all occasions when we are rambling on shore and entirely in their Power, with the utmost kindness and Hospitality, it must hurt every benevolent Mind to be informed that notwithstanding all this, some among the lower Class of our People often behave in a brutal Manner towards them. A poor Indian to day for some trifling offence on board the Discovery, such as not moving quick enough out of the way when he was ordered, had a blow given to him by one of the Captain's servants which made a large Wound on his forehead. Had any of our Men received such Treatment from the Indians we should have a number of Epithets to bestow upon them such as savage, barbarous &c., when at the same time some among us are found capable of acting in the above base & cruel Manner & yet call themselves Christians and a civilized People. As some reparation to the poor fellow we dressed his wound."


An Amiable Purchase or Not?


On 1st February "We were in want of fire wood" wrote King "& the Captain desird us to treat with the Natives, whether or no they would not sell the Pailing round their Morai, they had often of themselves taken out some of the pales, & as it had much the Appearance of being suffer'd to go to decay, we did not seem to run any risk in being look'd upon as impious to propose the purchasing of it; It was accordingly done & the Wood most readily given to us even without any demand; they were however very handsomely rewarded, & this morning the launches from both Ships took it off; The Sailors were also moving off their Carved Images, & before I was aware of it had got down to the boats all the Semicircle, & acquainted me that the Natives told them to do so & assist'd. I however went to Kao who was with us, & he desir'd only that we would return the little Image, & to leave standing the two in the Center of the Morai, the little Image was carried into one of their houses."

Ledyard recorded this incident quite differently.

"Cook was insensible of the daily decline of his greatness and importance in the estimation of the natives, nay, so confident was he, and so secure in the opposite opinion that on the 4th of February he came to Kireekakooa with his boats to purchase and carry off the fence round the Morai, which he wanted to wood the ships with. When he landed he sent for the Priest Kikinny and some other chiefs, and offered them two iron hatchets for the fence. The chiefs were astonished not only at the inadequate price, but at the proposal and refused him. Cook was as much chagrined as they were surprized, and not meeting with the easy acquiescence he expected to his requisitions gave immediate orders to his people to ascend the Morai, break down the fence and load the boats with it, leading the way himself to enforce his orders. The poor dismayed chiefs dreading his displeasure, which they saw approaching followed him upon the Morai to behold the fence that enclosed the mansions of their noble ancestors, and the images of their gods torn to pieces by a handful of rude strangers without the power, or at least without the resolution of opposing their sacrilegious depredations."

Samwell recorded this incident succinctly. "Captn Cook… bought the Pales which surrounded Ohekeaw of the Chiefs for fire wood and divided it between the 2 ships."


William Watman


King continued on 1st "William Watman, one of the Gunners Crew this day Died; he had as a Convalescent when we first came into the bay been a few days on shore; We supposed him well, & at his own desire he went on board again, but the day after was taken with a Paralytic stroke & in two days died; he was an old man, had been 21 Years a Marine, & was the last Voyage with Captn Cook, who got him Greenwich hospital, which he left as well as the Captn whose fortunes he was desirous of following; William Watman was belov'd by his fellows, for his good, & benevolent disposition, his experience made him foresee that the Cups & bowls of the Young folks in particular, would soon be lost or demolishd & he took care to collect a number of Coco nut Shells, which he distributed to them in their distress. The Chiefs knowing of his death expressd a desire that he might be bury'd on shore"

According to Samwell, "In the Afternoon he was buryed with great decency at the foot of an Image on the Pile of stones called O-hekeaw, the burial Place of the Indian Chiefs. Captn Cook assisted in performing the burial Service, after which the Indian Priests sacrificed a Hog and performed other Ceremonies, and at night came in procession carrying a kind of Ensign before them & performed those Rites which they use over the dead. A board was fastened to the Image at the foot of which he is buryed with the following Inscription engraved upon it

'Georgius tertius Rex 1779
Hicjacet Gulielmus Watman'.

The board was made fast to the Image with wooden pegs lest the Indians might have been tempted to take it down for the sake of the nails if any had been put in."


Leaving Hawaii


On 2nd King noted "Terreeoboo & the Chiefs became inquisitive as to the time of our departing & seemd well pleas'd that it was to be soon, & that we shou'd stop at Mowee; whether this arises thro jealousy, or thro a desire of collecting a supply of food for our use, is doubtful, but candour should make us suppose the latter".

On 4th, wrote Samwell, "Early this morning we sailed out of the Harbour of Kerag-e-goo-a accompanyed by a number of Canoes and stood to the westwd towards the Island of Mow-ee… "

Ledyard explained "We had now been 19 days in the bay Kireekakooa, in the Island of Owyhee, we had repaired our ships, had regaled and refreshed our people, and had lain in a supply of pork that would probably support us 6 months; the only article we wanted in particular was water, which was here very brackish and bad."

On 8th, on the Discovery "we stood within two miles of the Shore where we lay to in order to tighten our rigging which was too slack. Last Night the Resolution sprung the Head of her fore mast." According to King "Both the fishes, which were put on the head of the Mast at King Georges Sound are the parts now found sprung, & so very defective as to make it Absolutely necessary .to replace them with others; I believe these fishes were made from some old drift wood, that I remember was thought suspicious at the time. What made them give way the sooner was our Fore topmast rigging being Slack... The Captn was for sometime doubtfull, whether to run the Chance of meeting with as good a bay as Karakacooa in the Islands to Leeward, or to return thither".

On 10th King wrote "At ½ past 1 In a strong squall found ourselves close in with the breakers that lye to the Northward of the West point of Owhyhee, we hauld off & fir'd several Guns to the Discovery to advert them of the Danger, which she answer'd."


Back in Kealakekua Bay

On 11th the Resolution, wrote King "At daylight Anchord in Karakakooa bay". Samwell noted "We had but few Canoes about us in Comparison to the great number we had about us on our first coming into this bay. The Resolution busy in striking her topmasts & preparing to send her foremast on shore to be repaired. Most of our old sweethearts came to see us."

The next day on the Resolution "In the Forenoon had the Sheers up & secur'd, & the Forehold clear for unstepping the Foremast; & in the afternoon had the purchases ready reev'd for getting the Mast out." Samwell noted "The Ships were put under a taboo on Acct of Kariopoo paying his first visit to day, who arrived here & brought several Presents for Captain Cook. No Girls were suffered to come on board."

On 13th "the Taboo was taken off the Ships. The Resolution's foremast was got on shore on the sandy beach & the Astronomer's Observatories were erected on the old Spot, a great number of large Canoes arrived in the Bay and were hauled ashore at the Town of Ka-va-roa where the Indians are busy in erecting temporary Hutts for their Residence during our Stay here." Thomas Edgar, Master, on the Discovery, recorded "abt 11 Punish'd an Indian with 40 lashes for stealing the Armourers Tong's & Kept'd him Seizd up to the Main Shrouds till the Tongs Should be returnd abt ½ past 11 the Tongs being returnd Released the Indian & turnd him Out of the Ship."

Samwell continued "another Indian in the Afternoon had the boldness to snatch the same tongues & a Chizel off the Forge before the Armourer's face & jump overboard with them; he might have been shot in the water but we thought it too rash to take his life when there was a probability of catching him." Edgar, the Master, "being orderd by Capt. Clarke went in the small Cutter with 2 Men & a Midshipman after the Canoe, and fearing she might get on shore before we could come up with her, put of without firearms, there being a Constant fireing of Muskets from the Ship in order to Stop her, but to no purpose, as she got with her prize on shore in a small cove; we followed in the Cutter, when another Canoe met us, & brought the Tongs & Chisle, and Lid of the water Cask, the latter we had not miss'd."

Samwell continued "Captain Cook who was on shore at this time & saw the boat pursuing the Canoe, had run with the 2d Lieut. and a Marine armed to intercept his Landing, but it seems that he was led out of the way designedly by some Indians who intruded themselves as Guides to lead him to the place where the Canoe would land."


Pinnace Stolen and Recovered


Then, wrote Gilbert "The master and midshipman landed amongst a great number of the Natives and were going to seize one of the Canoes when a chief who was present told them that it belonged to him and they could not have it; and indeed it was, very probably, but they mistook the one the man got into who committed the Theft, either in pushing off from the ship, amongst so many, or in hauling up; but they still foolishly persisted in attempting to take it away. The Chief layed hold of them and gave them a severe beating with his hands, which the two men, who remained in the Jolly boat perceiving, they rowed off to a little distance and got clear. Our pinnace, that was laying not far off waiting for Capt Cook with only the crew in her, who seeing the affair went without any orders to their assistance; but as soon as they came near the shore the Natives lay hold of the Boat and hauled her up high and dry upon the beach, and broke some of the oars, which obliged the crew to take to the water and swim to the Jolly boat, the Indians at the same time pelting them with stones. In a little time they were quiet and called to the people in the boat to come onshore and that they would let them have the pinnace; which they did with the oars that remained and likewise released the Master and midshipman. About an hour afterwards Capt Cook hearing of the quarrel was very angry and gave our people a severe repremand for their rashness; he walked round with one of the Officers to the place where it happened and found every thing very peaceable."

Samwell noted "The Indian Chiefs frequently enquire of us who are the Tata Toa or fighting Men among us, they suppose none are such but those who are tall & stout, the same as they are among them. To day one of them asked Captn Cook if he was a Toa & he answered in the affirmative, the Indian then desired him to shew his Wounds, on which Captain Cook held out his right hand to him which had a large Gash upon it between the Thumb & fore finger, and the Indian Chief seemed satisfied". The scar was caused by the explosion of a powder horn on 6th August 1764 at Noddy Harbour, Newfoundland.


Cutter Stolen


During the night the natives "took away our large Cutter which lay swamped at the Buoy of the small Bower Anchor, they carryed her off so quietly that we knew nothing of it". Heinrich Zimmerman, AB on the Discovery, wrote "I, being deck watch discovered the theft at break of day and reported it to Captain Cook". According to Clerke "Lieut Burney, who was the Officer of the Watch, acquainted me that the large Cutter was taken from the Buoy where we had moor'd and sunk her to prevent the heat of the sun which is here very powerfull from renting the Plank; upon examining part of her Moorings that was left upon the Buoy and was a 4 inch rope I found plainly it had been cut by some instrument or other, which clearly evinc'd she must have been taken away by the Indians, with which circumstances I directly waited upon Capt Cook and made him acquainted, and after some conversation upon the subject he propos'd that his Boats should go to the NW Point of the Bay and mine to the SE Point to prevent any Canoes going away and if any attempted it to drive them onshore, for he said he would sieze them all and made no doubt but to redeem them they would very readily return the Boat again. It was now between 6 and 7 o'clock in the morning I return'd onboard to put these orders into execution and sent Lieut Rickman with the Launch and small Cutter with their Crews and some Marines well arm'd to the station Capt Cook had assign'd them; I soon after took the Jolly Boat (which now was the only Boat I had left) and came to the Resolution with an intention of having some more discourse with Capt Cook upon this business, but when I came near the Ship Lieut Gore told me that Capt Cook was gone with his Pinnace, Launch and small Cutter to a Town situated just within the NW Point, where King Terre'oboo and the major part of the People of consequence then resided, upon which I return'd to my Ship, concluding as Capt Cook was gone to the King, matters would soon be settled, for we were as yet by no means upon bad terms either with Arees or any body else."

According to King, Cook was "loading his double Barreld piece" and Clerke "was too unwell to go on shore to Terreeoboo to enquire after [the boat]. C Cook therefore himself went: he put off from the Ship in the Pinnace having Mr Philips & Mr Roberts with him, with the Marines, at the same time that I put off in the jolly Boat with the Time Keeper; he calld to me to keep the Indians about us quiet, by assuring them they should not be hurt". Molesworth Philips was second lieutenant of marines and Henry Roberts was a master's mate.

"Soon after" Clerke "got onboard I observ'd some Muskets discharg'd from my Launch and small Cutter upon which I sent the Jolly Boat to know how matters went, and Orders to Lieut Rickman if he had made any seizures of Canoes to send them to the Ship by the Jolly Boat. It was now just 8 O'clock when we were alarm'd by the discharge of a Volley of small Arms from Capt Cooks People and a violent shout of the Indians; with my Glass I clearly saw that our People were drove off to their Boats but I could not distinguish Persons in that confused Croud". Though Burney on the same ship "with Glasses… could see Captn Cook receive a Blow from a Club and fall off a Rock into the Water."

King "was for some time in the Observatory preparing to take equal Altitudes, so that I did not see what was going forward in the bay, only that our boats were scatterd about often in chase of Canoes, but in a short time the firing of Musketry at Kowroowa where the Captn was, so roused & agitated our Spirits, that it was impossible to continue on observing… all fyring had ceas'd, & we for about 10 minutes… were under the most torturing suspence & anxiety that can be conceiv'd… at last our Cutter coming on shore, with Mr Bligh, he calld out before he reached the Shore, to strike the Observatorys as quick as possible, & before he announced to us the Shocking news that Captn Cook was kill'd, we saw it in his & the Sailors looks."

Gavin Kennedy in his 103-page book "The Death of Captain Cook" (Duckworth, 1978) notes "The timing of events… is vague. Each account gives only approximate times, and not all of these can be reconciled." There is no definitive version of these events and many different interpretations have been made of them. Paul Capper, whose chronological account of Cook's life was serialised in Cook's Log, summarised it thus: "Cook along with Marines, Corporal Thomas, Privates Hinks, Allen and Fatchett are killed ashore near village of Kaawaloa, about 9 a.m. There had been ill feeling, menaces and theft - particularly Discovery's cutter - and Cook had gone ashore to settle the matter. Confusion, musket fire and mis-interpreted signals led to the tragedy and the resulting contemporary confusion of accounts and paintings of the scene."

Clerke "order'd the Observatories and Fore Mast to be got off with all expedition." According to Harvey, Clerke "immediately order'd the Ships to be unmoor'd & to warp them before the Town and to destroy it with our great Guns which had been play'd upon [it] ever since the first attack, but after some little consultation, which as we may say the second thoughts are always suppos'd to be the best, the unmooring of the Ships was postpon'd to the discontent of both Ship's Companys… as we wanted the dead bodys to give them a proper interment".

On 16th wrote Clerke "a Priest whose name was Car'na'care… came onboard and brought with him a large piece of Flesh which we soon saw to be Human and which he gave us to understand was part of the Corpse of our late unfortunate Captain, it was clearly a part of the Thigh about 6 or 8 pounds without any bone at all - the poor fellow told us that all the rest of the Flesh had been burnt at different places with some peculiar kind of ceremony,' that this had been deliver'd to him for that purpose, but as we appear'd anxious to recover the Body he had brought us all that he could get of it, he likewise added that the Bones which were all that now remain'd were in the possession of King Terre'oboo."

It was not until 20th that Clerke was able to report "to my very great satisfaction the Mast is compleat… In the Morning got the Fore Mast step'd and were very busy rigging the rest of the day. About Noon E'ar'po came to the Beach… I went in the Pinnace and took Mr King in the Cutter near enough the shore to hold conversation and demanded the remains of Capt Cook which he deliver'd to me very decently wrap'd up… I ask'd him for the remains of the other four People, but he told me that Capt Cook being the principal Man he of course became the property of King Terre'oboo, that the others were taken by various Arees who were now dispers'd in different parts of the Isle and that it would be impossible to collect them. I thought this so probable an account that I said no more upon the subject… they gave me an account of their loss of Men in our various skirmishes which amounts to four Aree's kill'd and 6 wounded, of their people 25 kill'd and 15 wounded, this is the same as I have before heard and as it is thus corroborated I suppose it is the fact. Upon examining the remains of my late honour'd and much lamented friend I found all his Bones excepting those of the Back, Jaw & feet".

On 22nd "In the Evening I had the remains of Capt Cook committed to the deep with all the attention and honour we could possibly pay it in this part of the World".


Leaving Kealakekua for the Second Time


In the evening of 23rd Clerke, on the Resolution, "took up the small Anchor, hoisted in the Launch and about 8 having a Light Breeze off the land weigh'd and made sail out of the Bay, the Boats ahead towing. At 10 having a good Offing hoisted in all the boats… I order'd Capt Gore in case of separation to rendezvous at A'tou'I for the first satation, to which place I mean to repair with as much expedition as I can, taking the necessary observations for the proper arrangement of the various Isles in the intermediate space."

Samwell, on the Discovery, "About nine o'Clock at Night the land breeze spring[ing] up we sailed out of Kerag-egooa Harbour and stood along the shore for the Island of Mowee".


Detail  from Chart of the Sandwich Islands
Detail from Chart of the Sandwich Islands
Showing the islands of Morotoi [Molokai], Ranai [Lanai] and Mowee [Maui].
The next day Clerke suffered "a fresh Gale… split the Mizen… squally Weather with a high short Sea". Samwell had the isles of "Mowee, Oranai and Morotai in sight… Canoes came off to us from the different Islands… The News of the affair of Kerag-egooa had reached before our arrival, for that was almost the first thing they mentioned to us, and seemed desirous that we should know that Kariopoo was not the King of these Islands but that they belonged to Ka-hee-keere".

Clerke wanted to "look at this part of Mow'wee, but found broken, uneven Ground and shoal Water so was oblig'd to bear away". The next day he "stood for the opening between Mow'wee and Morotoi, but at sunset we saw the appearance of foul Ground between these Isles, so haul'd our Wind to the Soward… In the morning we run round the Somost part of Ranai".

According to Gilbert "seeing no signs of any harbour we did not stop", so on 26th, wrote Samwell, "we are running along the Island Morotai with a large island to leeward of us in sight, called O-ahoo [Oahu]… Our object now is to procure Yams to carry to Sea with us on our next northern Expedition to serve instead of bread, which is an article that is very short in both Ships, and Yams are the only roots that will keep for any length of time."



Waimea Bay, Oahu


They arrived at Oahu on 27th and Clerke "stood into a Bay… the Eastern Shore of which was far the most beautiful Country we have as yet seen among these Isles". According to King "the two Captains went on shore, we found but a few of the Natives, & those mostly Women, who prostrated themselves as we Went along." Gilbert considered "this place appeared to be in every respect more convenient for our purpose than that we were going to, yet! Capt Clerke did not approve of our staying here, and in the evening sailed from the Island".

Clerke was headed for A'tou'I [Kauai] where "I can get good Water and much more Fruit & Hogs than I shall want, but a stock of Yams is now my principal Aim".


Waimea, Kauai


On 1st March, as Gilbert recorded, the ships "came to an anchor in Ohamaya Road; where we had been before in January 1778. We were visited by the Natives as usual, who seemed to be very well pleased at seeing us again". Samwell wrote "the Indians calling the Town & River off which we lye O-waimea".

The natives that King saw aboard "began telling us a Story of some fighting… they were relating to us a very late battle between Neoneo the old Chief, & Taiavee, the former was worst'd & the latter they now call the Chief: One Man without putting questions to him on our beginning the conversation told us that we had left a disorder amongst their Women, which had killd several of them as well as Men; he himself was infectd with the Venereal disease, & describ'd in feeling terms the havock it had made, & its pains &c."

Clerke "sent Lieut King onshore with the Boats mann'd and Arm'd, Marines &c for a turn of Water; they had not been long landed before the Natives became exceedingly rude and troublesome, they took by force some of their Watering materials and proceeded so far as to snatch at & seize the Peoples Muskets which laid Mr King under the necessity of killing one of them for the security of Himself and Party. In the Morning I sent Mr King again upon the Watering business with all the Boats of both Ships and 50 Men under arms to protect those who were employ'd about the Casks &c, with orders not by any means to suffer a Native to come near them - they now went on very well, the Natives assembled to the amount of some thousands but were merely distant Spectators, they gave our Party no kind of interruption… This Morning I got the Discovery's Carpenters and set them to work with my Own to caulk the Resolutions Sides, which are so open that every trifling shower of rain runs through them… This is the most extraordinary Hog Island we ever met with… Iron is the current cash on our side".

On 3rd Samwell "learnt from the Indians that since we were here last they had been at war with the People of Nehaw [Nihau] about the two Goats that were left there by Captn Cook & that in the Conflict the poor Goats were both killed."

According to King that day "went again on shore & completed the watering of our Ship" and the day after next "the Watering party went on shore under the Command of Lieutenant Burney to compleat the Discovery". On 6th "Busied in setting up the rigging, Paying the Ships sides with Varnish of pine &c & getting ready for Sea."




On 8th "at 9 in the forenoon" King "Weighd & Saild for Neeneehow, & at 3 in the Afternoon Anchord in 20 fm nearly in the same spot when here in February 1778."

Clerke set the "Carpenters caulking the Main Deck." The next day "the People drawing Yarns and making Spunyarn, the Carpenters caulking the Main deck and painting the Quick work round the Ship. The Launch employ'd trading for Yams." This pattern continued for the next few days. On 13th Clerke "sent away the Master with the Pinnace & Cutter to examine the Western part of the Isle, and see if there was no better shelter'd Road for ye anchorage of Ships than this we were now riding in, which is by no means so good a Roadstead as I could wish to ride in, was my stay here to be of any duration." The next day "the Carpenters finishd caulking the main deck" and on 15th "we hoisted in the Boats and made all clear for Sea. In the morning at 7 weigh'd & made sail."

William Charlton, midshipman on the Resolution, noted "Read the Artciles of War to the Ships Company who are to have full Allowance of all Provisions except Bread & Grog." Edgar, on the Discovery, wrote "the People were all allowanced at 5 lbs of cornpork pr week; & two lbs of Yam's pr day, with a little hog's lard serv'd out to them in lieu of butter, pease & wheat on the proper day's the lock was put on the water cask, that no waste might be made."

Gilbert was disappointed that "after using every method in our power to procure yams, we got only a sufficient quantity to last us three weeks; which was far short of what we wished for, or even expected".


Sailing North


Gilbert continued, "we sailed for the Northward to prosecute our Discoveries another season in search of a passage thro' the Ice above Behring straits". Samwell noted "our next Rendezvous being the Harbour of St Peter and Paul in Kamtschatka".

On 16th Clerke "employ'd overhauling the Cables, Hawsers & Cordage in the Hold which are very wet from the Leaks about the Wale, found a leak on the Larboard side of the Cole Hole forward which we must look into the first opportunity, as it admits a great deal of Water when the Starboard Tacks are onboard." Three days later "People making spunyard and picking Oakum."

On 20th "in the Night a Net that was towing astern with some corn'd meat to freshen was tore to pieces and its contents taken away - in the Morning a Shark was caught which on being open'd the Meat was found in its Maw." Next day "we catch plenty of Boneta with the Hooks of the friendly Isles [Tonga] quite bare, wholly devoid of any Bait whilst nothing that we can devise to put on our European Hooks will allure a single fish near them." On 26th Samwell recorded "The Resolution made the Signal for seeing Land, but it proved to be what the sailors call Cape Flyaway; we expect daily to see land on account of the Birds we have about us."

On 31st Clerke found "The Winds we meet with here are so very light & uncertain that I find it necessary to change my plan of proceeding, I did purpose to stand to the Westward in this Latitude as far as Longitude 170º before I haul'd to the Noward… but… will immediately make the best of my way towards Kamtschatka, the Major part of which passage is a new Track too from all the accounts I can find", 225 years ago.

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 39, volume 27, number 1 (2004).

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“On Monday, the 15th of March c.1779, we weighed anchor, and paffing to the N. of Tahoora, ftood to the S. W. in expectation of felling in with the ifland of Modoopapappa ; the natives having affured us, that it lay in that direction, within five hours fail of Tahoora.”}
By S.C.R. on 9/22/2012 3:09:42 AM Like:5 DisLike:3

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