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Stephen Forwood (1737-1775)


Stephen Forwood sailed with James Cook in Endeavour.  Forwood was born in 1737, the son of Christopher and Mary Forwood, and baptised at St. Lawrence, Thanet, Kent.  Christopher Forwood (born ~1708) and Mary Kennard were married on 10 February, 1734, also at St. Lawrence.  For Mary Kennard it was a second marriage, having been first married to Hammond Kennard.  Her maiden name was Mary Underdown.


Stephen Forwood’s oldest brother, Thomas, was a marine who had sailed with Cook in HMS Eagle in 1756.  Thomas rose to be a lieutenant, and it may be through this connection that Cook applied to Philip Stephens, the Admiralty Secretary, for Stephen Forwood to be appointed to Endeavour.

Deptford 3rd June 1768

Mr Cook presents his most respectfull compliments to Mr Stephens, and begs leave to recommend the bearer Mr Forward as a very proper person to be appointed Gunner of the Endeavour, he having pass’d his examination for that purpose.

James Cook.1

Stephen Forwood had joined the Royal Navy before 1760.  He had married Hannah Easterbrook that year at St. Charles, Plymouth, on 27 October, and was then listed as being a midshipman in HMS Conqueror.  Under Captain William Lloyd, she was part of the Western Squadron.  She was wrecked on St. Nicholas Island, in Plymouth Harbour, on 26 October, 1760, just the day before Forwood married!


Forwood was appointed, and joined Endeavour, on 17 June, 1768, as gunner.  He kept a journal during the voyage.2  On 2 December, 1769, at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, Forwood was one of a group of men who stole rum, and became drunk.  While the others were given lashes, Forwood, for some unknown reason, escaped punishment. 


Forwood remained in Endeavour after the voy-age, but was discharged on 20 September, 1771, to join HMS Surprize. 

9 September 1771

Mr Forward Gunner of the Endeavour has inform’d me that he hath applied to you, for a removeal out of the said Bark.  Permit me to acquaint you that I believe his present ill state of hilth renders him very unfit for such a voyage.  I also have to acquaint you that Mr Wilkinson, who my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty were pleased to keep a gunners warrant Vacant for, is dead; if their Lords Ships would be pleased to appoint Mr Forward to this Vacancy it would give him sufficient time to recover his hilth.

I am, &tc.,
James Cook3


Forwood filed for his lieutenant’s examination on 6 May, 1773, whilst in Surprise and was posted to HMS Boulogne for the examination.4  All records of the latter ship have been lost, and it is not known what happened.


Stephen Forwood married for a second time, presumably after the death of Harriet.  He did so to Mary Bignall in 1774, at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London.  No children were recorded.  Mary Forwood died on 3 May, 1782, at Alverstoke, Hampshire.  In her will she wrote that she was receiving a “pension as the widow of Stephen Forwood, late Gunner of His Majesty’s Ship Achillies”.  The will of Mary Forwood was proven at London on 10 May, 1782.5


Stephen Forwood died on 31 January, 1775, while attached to HMS Achilles, which was based at Portsmouth at the time under the command of Captain Richard Onslow.  No will has survived.


Stephen Forwood died without issue.  There are, however, descendants of his father’s brother Richard still alive today.6  Richard was a cabinet maker from Sandwich, Kent.


John Robson



1.Letter from James Cook to Philip Stephens, Admiralty Secretary, dated 3 June, 1768.  ADM 1/1609.  Held at The National Archives, Kew (TNA). 

2.Journal of Stephen Forwood from 27 May, 1768, to 26 September, 1770.  ADM 51/4545/133.  TNA. 

3.Letter from James Cook to [probably] Philip Stephens, Admiralty Secretary, dated 9 September, 1771.  ADM 1/1609.  TNA. 

4.Endeavour Lines, no. 38, March 2002.  Page 6. 

5.PROB 11/1090.  TNA. 

6.Endeavour Lines, no. 38, March 2002.  Page 2. 


Title page of the journal of Stephen Forwood, held at The National Archives (TNA), Kew


A page from the journal of Stephen Forwood, held at The National Archives (TNA), Kew

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 47, volume 40, number 3 (2017).

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Brittany, he had no children so you are not a direct descendant. I suspect you are like me a descendant of either his brother or his fathers brothers children. Either way it’s pretty cool. I have known for some 30 years of my connection to him through a family tree my grandmother (Birtha Forwood) put together. A great great uncle was my understanding.
By Jared Scanlon on 3/15/2020 12:52:20 AM Like:0 DisLike:0
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I have only just found this and it is amazing to find out that i am a direct descendant of this Stephen Forwood.
By Brittay Forwood on 10/11/2019 1:14:53 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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I suspect the Mary who married both Hammond Kennard and Christopher Forwood was the Mary Alderstone who married a Hammond Kennard in 1717 (Mary Underwood's marriage was in 1722). The Hammond who married 1717 (if he was the one christened in 1692) was the cousin of a Sarah Kennet who married a John Forwood in 1717.
By Monica Kanellis on 12/25/2017 12:07:25 AM Like:0 DisLike:0

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