Home > Samuel Gibson

Samuel Gibson


In the Name of God Amen, I Samuel Gibson, Serjeant of Marines on board his Majesty's Sloop the Resolution, John Gore Esquire, Commander, being in bodily health and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and considering the Perils and dangers of the Seas and other uncertainties of this transitory life, (do for avoiding controversies after my decease) make, publish and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner following (That is to say) –

First, I recommend my Soul to God that gave it, and my Body I commit to the Earth of Sea as it shall please God to order. And as for and concerning all my Worldly Estate, I give, bequeath and dispose thereof as followeth, That is to say –

I give all my wearing Apparel and other Effects I have on board this Ship, and all such Wages, Sum and Sums of Money, Lands, Tenements and Estate whatsoever as shall be any ways due, owing or belonging unto me at the time of my decease, I do give, devise and bequeath the same unto my well beloved Wife Jean Gibson of the Parish of Walls, in Orkney. She paying at my decease the following legacies and Debts, to wit -
To my Father, Samuel Gibson of the Parish of St Mary, Leicester, in Leicestershire, ten pounds.
To Thomas Hartford, Marine on Board the Resolution six Pounds six Shillings, and
To Robert Anderson, Gunner on board the said Ship, four pounds ten Shillings,
all lawful Money of Great Britain.

And I do hereby nominate and appoint my said Wife my sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all other and former Wills, Testaments and Deeds of Gift by me at any time heretofore made. And I do ordain and ratify these presents to stand and be, for and as my only last Will and Testament.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal the eighteenth day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty, and in the seventeenth Year of the Reign of his Majesty King George the third over Great Britain, France and Ireland etc.    Samuel Gibson    X    his mark.

Signed, Sealed, Published and Declared in the presence of Wm. Wade Ellis Surgeon's 2nd Mate Resolution, Will. Miller Notary Publick in Stromness Orkney.

This Will was proved at London the sixteenth day of October in the Year or our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty, before the Worshipful Andrew Coltee Duracel, Doctor of Laws, Surrogate of the Right Worshipful Peter Calvert, Doctor of Laws, Master Keeper and Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the Oath of Jean Gibson Widow, the Relict of the deceased and sole Executrix named in the said Will, to whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Goods, Chattels, and Credits of the said deceased, She having been first sworn duly to Administer.


(Transcribed from the copy at the Family Records Centre, London. Microfilm Reference Prob. 11 / 1070.)

Cliff Thornton, August 2003


  1. Samuel Gibson was serving his third voyage under Captain Cook. He was still in the Marines but this time in the rank of sergeant.
  2. Easterly winds had prevented the Resolution sailing up The Channel to London, so she attempted to sail around the north of Scotland and eventually anchored in Stromness in the Orkney Islands on 22 August 1780. A month later the winds changed and the Resolution sailed around the north of Scotland and down the east coast of England.
  3. Whilst the vessel was in port, Samuel Gibson met a local girl named Jannet Coupland and, after a brief courtship, they married in the parish church on Monday 4 September 1780.
  4. Gibson had been taken ill on the homeward journey, though his health was thought to be improving when they arrived at Stromness (Midshipman Trevenen). Gibson made his will on 18 September 1780, a fortnight after his marriage. Did he make his will because of his deteriorating health or because he knew that the Resolution would soon be leaving?
  5. Gibson left Stromness in the Resolution two days later on 20 September 1780. He died three days later on 23 September and was buried at sea.
  6. In his will he specifies that all his effects are to go to his wife. This prevented the traditional auctioning of a deceased’s effects to the crew and passing the proceeds of the sale to the next of kin.
  7. He left a legacy to Robert Anderson, gunner of the Resolution. They must have known each other well having served together on Cook’s three voyages.
  8. The signatories to his will suggest that it was drawn up on shore in the office of the local public notary. His witnesses were the public notary and the ship’s surgeon’s second mate, William Ellis who, presumably, had been looking after Gibson during his illness.
  9. The limited extent of Gibson’s formal education can be inferred from the end of the will where he made his mark rather than signing his name to the document.
  10. The will was proved on 16 October 1780, just ten days after Resolution arrived at Deptford.

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 33, volume 29, number 1 (2006).

No comments

Unsolicited e-mail warning

It has come to our attention that spam mailers (senders of bulk unsolicited e-mail) have been forging their mail with this domain as the point of origin. As a matter of policy, we do not send out e-mail from our domain name. If you have received an email that appears to be from "@CaptainCookSociety.com" it was forged and sent without our consent, knowledge, or the use of our servers.