Home > 225 Years Ago: July - September 1775

225 Years Ago: July - September 1775


At the beginning of July, 1775, Captain James Cook was sailing northwards in the Resolution towards the Portuguese islands of the Azores. According to Johann Forster, the naturalist, on the 10th, its "Situation is looked upon as not yet settled; we shall perhaps have an Occasion to do it by some good Astronomical Observation."

They arrived on 13th at the island of Pico, off which they spent the night. The following morning, wrote Cook, "made sail for the Bay of Fayal... The Moment we had Anchored, I sent an officer accompanied by Mr Wales on shore to wait on the English Consul and to notify our arrival to the Governor and request permission for Mr Wales to make observations on shore". William Wales, the astronomer, was able to make observations the same day. Forster, his son George, Wales and William Hodges, the artist, all lodged with Thomas Dent, the vice-consul.

"The ceremony of Saluting", continued Cook, "was here omited, as the Governor refused to return Gun for Gun... During our stay the Ships Company was Served with fresh beef, and we took on board about fifteen Tons of Water... The Bullocks and Hogs are very good, the latter especially, but the Sheep are very small and wretchedly poor."

"A small American Vessel was here & a French Frigatte", wrote Forster. He was "told the Kings troops had had a Skirmish with the Provincial Troops in N. America, wherein 8 were killed, that 14 Sail of the Line blokaded the Port of Boston & that several Frigates cruized & took all N. England Vessels; that one stood here several times in, but seing the French Frigatte & mistaking her for an English Ship, stood out again."

They sailed on 19th, passing the islands of St. George, Tercera and Gratiosa. On 22nd, the wind grew to a gale "with which", Cook wrote, "we Steered directly for the Lizard", the southernmost part of Cornwall. Forster noted their passing of it on 28th, as well as a "vast Number of Ships plying to windward in order to get out of the Channel." The next day they passed "Eddystone Lighthouse & Start Point, the first part of Englands happy Shores" off Plymouth. "The numberless Ships & finely cultivated country we see make our hearts Glad, being a Sight from which we were weaned 3 tedious long years."

Cook notes from their observation of Plymouth, "that the error of Mr Kendalls Watch in Longitude was only 7' 45", which was too far to the west." On the morning of the 30th "anchored at Spit-head. Having been absent from England Three Years and Eighteen Days, in which time I lost but four men and one only of them by sickness." Cook, Hodges and Wales landed at Portsmouth and set off for London the same day.


Joseph Banks, Omai and Lord Sandwich returned to London from their tour of the naval dockyards on 13th July. About a week later they left for the latter's home at Hinchingbrooke. Then Banks and Omai and some friends travelled north to York where, in mid-August, they met Constantine Phipps and went with him to his home at Mulgrave Hall, near Whitby.

On 1st August 1775, Captain James Cook was at the Admiralty, London where, according to Dr Daniel Solander writing to Joseph Banks, he was "in the board-room, giving an account of himself & Co. He looks as well as ever... Mr Hodges came up in his chaise; I saw him and his Drawings. He has great many portraits - some very good... Forster Senr and Junr are also come up, but I have not seen them, they did not call at the admiralty."

The same day Cook wrote to the Admiralty Secretary about the provisions he had used and the health of the ship's company. He also wrote to the Victualling Board on the experimentally cured beef, inspissated juice of wort and beer, the failure of the bread to last, and the Sour Krout. Wales took Kendal's copy of John Harrison's chronometer (a term not yet invented) "down to Greenwich in a Coach & delivered it to the Revd Mr Maskelyne", the Astronomer Royal.

Two days later the Admiralty ordered the Resolution to proceed to Galleons Reach in the River Thames. And the next day the Ordnance Office wrote to the Admiralty Secretary: "A suit of armour having been prepared for Omai if Otaheite, at the desire of Lord Sandwich, the armour is ready in the Tower and the proper persons are waiting to fit it on Omai."

Presentation and Promotion

On 10th the General Evening Post reported "Yesterday Capt. Cook, who has lately been a voyage round the world, and made several discoveries in the South seas, was presented to his Majesty at St. James's by Lord Sandwich, and most graciously received". The London Chronicle added that the captain made his own presentation of maps and charts and that the Resolution was "to be repaired for another voyage". Cook was promoted Post-Captain and appointed to H.M.S. Kent, a 74-gun ship, built in 1762. Cook was appointed to Greenwich Hospital as Fourth Captain at £200 per year, plus fire and light and 1s 2d per diem table money. The appointment was made with the agreement the Cook could quit it when there was service for him.

By now Johann Forster was in the middle of moving his family from Paddington Green to No 16, Percy Street, Rathbone Place, St Pancras, when thieves broke into the old residence and made off with books, manuscripts and effects. The books and manuscripts were discarded not far from the house. A month later Forster was accosted and robbed by footpads. He had brought back thousands of plants, many of them duplicates and known species, but at least 220 were entirely unknown. Some 260 quadrupeds, cetacea, amphibia, birds and fishes were collected, of which 114 birds and 74 fishes were new to science.

On 12th Dr Charles Burney wrote to James Lind, saying "nothing was resolved on during the absence of Capt. Cook; but now he is come home & has made considerable discoveries another Expedition is not only talked of, but determined to take place between this Time & next Xmas... Two Ships are to be sent out, in one of wch I believe my Son, who has already been a circumnavigator wth Capt. Four-neaux, will go out Lieutenant."

Solander Keeps Banks Informed

Two days later, Solander wrote to Banks: "Our Expedition down to the Resolution made yesterday quite a feast to all who were concerned... We were welcomed on board of the Resolution and Lord Sandwich made many of them quite happy. Mr Cooper was made Master and Commander. Mr Clerke was promised the command of the Resolution to carry Mr Omai home; Mr Pickersgill to be his 1st Lieutenant. 3 Midshipmen were made Lieutenants viz. Smith, Burr & [blank]. The Master Mr Gilbert is made Master Attendant at Sheerness... All inquired after you. In fact we had a glorious day and long'd for nothing but you and Mr Omai. Mr Edgecomb & his Marines made a fine appearance. Most of our time, yesterday on board, was taken up in Ceremonies, so I had not much time to see their curious collections. Mr Clerke shew'd me some drawings of Birds, made by a Midshipman, not bad, which I believe he intends for you... Forster had on board the following Live Stock: a Springe Bock from the Cape, a Surikate, two Eagles, & several small birds all from the Cape."

On 16th, Forster was received at a levée by the king. Three days later Cook wrote to Captain John Walker in Whitby "As I have not now time to draw up an account of such occurrences of the Voyage as I wish to communicate to you, I can only thank you for your obliging letter and kind enquiryes after me during my absence; I must however tell you that the Resolution was found to answer, on all occasions even beyond my expectation and is so little injured by the Voyage that she will soon be sent out again, but I shall not command her, my fate drives me from one extream to a nother a fews Months ago the whole Southern hemisphere was hardly big enough for me and now I am going to be confined within the limits of Greenwich Hospital, which are far too small for an active mind like mine, I must however confess it is a fine retreat and a pretty income, but whether I can bring my self to like ease and retirement, time will shew. Mrs Cook joins with me in best respects to you and all your family".

On 20th Banks and Omai arrived at Mulgrave Hall and immediately studied the alum mines on the estate at Sandsend. The next day Forster went to Kew to present his South African animals to the queen. The following day Solander wrote to Banks "Several of the Resolutions men have called at your house, to offer you their curiosities. Tyrrell was here this morning. Mr Clarke, as I hear has been in a sad scrape. Upon going out, he gave a joint Bond with his Brother, for paying Sir John Clarke's debts. I've wondered much why I had not seen Mr Clarke since the ship came up to Deptford, but I this day learnt, that he has been obliged to live among Lawyers &c till he could quiet the creditors, which I hope he has now done, at least I was told so. Sir John Clarke has now sent some money home from India but not enough - and now I have been told Clarke is to pay them 100£ immediately and part of his pay quarterly... Capt Cook has sent all his curiosities to my apartments at the museum. All the shells is to go to Lord Bristol. 4 casks have your name on them and I understand they contain Birds and Fish & 1 Box Do with Plants from the Cape."

On 24th, Forster wrote to his friend Johann Michaelis that a manuscript of his work on the Resolution containing botanical and zoological descriptions, would "soon appear". It included an outline of the difficulties and frustrations of collecting at landfalls where the stay was short and the season "too advanced". Four days later the Resolution's company was paid off at Deptford in the River Thames.

According to the playwright George Colman, one of the companions of Banks, Omai and Phipps, early in September they all visited Captain Cook's father, James Cook at the village of Kirkleatham, now 80. They were able to tell him news of his son from Solander's letters.

More News For Banks From Solander

On 1st, Solander wrote to Banks "I wont trouble you with enumerating the many inquiries the Endeavour's People, who have been out in the Resolution, have made for you. Clarke is made Master & Commander in the Favourite, but is to have the Resolution. Mr Forster overwhelms me with civilities upon your account. He is of all men I know either the most open or the greatest fool. He certainly has made some clever remarks during the Voyage; but he talks rather too much of them. You cannot imagine how much the Man is mended since he came home: the officers say they hardly know the Man. He came home thinking himself very great - now he... is reduced even in his own opinion - some days ago he desired to me to call upon him; and he then desir'd me to pick out of his insects two of each species, one for you & one for the Museum, which I did not think proper to refuse... Ld Sandwich has desired him to, by way of specimen, send in some sheets, contain an account of what happened in Dusky Bay, New Zealand. If approv'd of, he is to write the account of the Voyage; and he is to have ½ the profits, and ½ to Captn Cook. Mr Hodges is to have 250£ a year as long as he is employed by the admiralty to finish the Drawings & Paintings he has made during the Voyage. They are very fine. But it will take up 3 or 4 years to finish them, at least. Forster's Drawings of Birds & Fish are pretty. But his Drawings of Plants mere sketches, not one has a grain of colour laid in."

On 6th Cook wrote to Latouche-Tréville, a French naval officer (translated into French), about Pacific Exploration. Five days later on 13th Cook wrote to the Sick and Hurt Board reporting favourably on portable soup. The next day he wrote to Walker giving a full account of the Voyage with the postscript "My Compliments to Mr Ellerton if he is yet living." Richard Ellerton was master of Walker's collier Friendship, in which Cook sailed as mate, May-November 1753.

An Anonymous Publication of the Voyage

On 18th Cook wrote to the Admiralty Secretary about an unofficial, anonymous publication of Voyage. "Last Saturday Morning I examined Mr Anderson the gunner about the Publication of my late Voyage, said to be in the press, and told him that he was Susspected of being the Author; he afirm'd that he had no knowlidge, or hand in it, and would use his Endeavours to find out the Author., and yesterday made me the Inclosed report, to day Marra Called upon me and confirmed what is therein set forth, and further added that Bordel, my Coxswain and Reardon the Boatswain mate, each kept a journal which they had offered to the Booksellers but they were so badly written that no one could read them. I have no reason to suspect this story, but will however, call on the Printer and endeavour to get a Sight of the Manuscript, as I know most of their hand writings. This Marra was one of the gunners Mates, the same as wanted to remain at Otahiete. If this is the only account of the Voyage that is printing, I do not think it worth regarding; I have taken some measures to find out if there are any more and such information as I may get shall be communicated to you".

On 19th Banks returned to London from his travels north. William Watson, a physician and naturalist, wrote to Edward Wortley Montagu at Venice, saying "Mr Clark, who came home Capt Cook's lieutenant, is, it is believed, to be appointed to command, & Sent home with Omay, who is now So far acquainted with this country, that not long Since, & without any body attending him, he hired a horse, & rode to visit Baron Dimsdale, by whom he was inoculated, at Hartford", 225 years ago.

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1764, volume 23, number 3 (2000).

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This morning we were in Whitby - wishing to know more now we have seen a little.
By JAN SALMON on 8/4/2015 9:57:51 PM Like:0 DisLike:0

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