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William Milton (1753-1773)


William Milton sailed on Cook’s Second Voyage in Adventure under Captain Tobias Furneaux.  


He joined on 19 June 1772 as an able-bodied seaman (AB).  Milton was one of the boat party killed at Wharehunga Bay (Grass Cove) in New Zealand on 17 December, 1773.1 


Milton was born in the Azores in the North Atlantic about 1753.  His mother kept a lodging house there on the island of Faial.  When James Cook put into Faial in July 1775,2 as he was returning to Britain, he found Pourvoyeuse, a French frigate, in the port.  When he went to visit the ship’s officers, he found them staying at Milton’s mother’s house.  


George Forster recorded the meeting.
The next morning we paid a visit to the officers of the French frigate, who lodged at the house of Mrs. Milton, an English woman, and a widow.  This good lady, hearing we had been round the world, shed a flood of tears, and told us that our arrival put her in mind of the cruel death of one of her sons, who had embarked in captain Furneaux’s ship, and was one of those unfortunate men that were killed and devoured in New Zeeland.  The circumstances with which his untimely fate was attended, are much more horrible, according to the ideas we imbibe by education, than those of any other manner of death, and could not fail of making a deeper impression on the unhappy parent.  Her grief was likewise of that genuine kind, to which no feeling heart can refuse a sympathetic tribute; and it taught us to reflect, how many mothers in Europe, and in the South Seas, have had reason to wail the loss of their sons, and to execrate the enterprizing spirit of mankind.3


John Robson



1.Cook’s Log, page 1568, vol. 21, no. 4 (1998).

2.Cook’s Log, page 1764, vol. 21, no. 4 (1998).

3.Forster, George.  A Voyage round the world, in his Britannic Majesty´s sloop, Resolution, Commanded by Captain James Cook, during the years 1772, 3, 4 and 5. White, Robson, Elmsly and Robinson.  1777.  Vol. II. Page 587. 

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 6, volume 40, number 2 (2017).

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