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William Watman


In the name of God Amen, I Wm. Watman, Mariner on board his Majesty's Ship Resolution, James Cook Esqr. Commander, being of sound and disposing mind and memory do hereby make this my last Will and Testament,

First and principally I commend my Soul into the Hands of Almighty God hoping for Remission of all my Sins through the Merits of Jesus Christ my Blessed Saviour, and Redeemer, and my Body to the Earth or Sea as it shall please God,

And as for such wordly estate and effects which I shall be possessed of or intitled unto at the time of my decease, I give and bequeath the same as followeth, that is to say, I give and bequeath unto my Brother Thomas Watman of Strutton in the County of Surrey, all such wages, sum and sums of Money as now is, or hereafter shall be due to me for my service or otherwise on Board the said Ship, or any other Vessel or Ship, and I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my said Brother Thomas Watman sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament, And I do give and bequeath unto my said Executor all the Rest and Residue of my said Estate whatsoever both Real and Personal, hereby revoking and making void all other and former wills by me heretofore made and do declare this to be my last Will and Testament in Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twentieth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy six, and in the sixteenth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith Wm. Watman X his Mark.

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said William Watman as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have hereunto subscribed our Names as Witnesses in the presence of the said Testatr. Jams. Cook, Wm. Bligh.

This Will was proved at London, the fourteenth day of October in the (year) of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty, before the Worshipful Francis Simpson, Doctor of Laws, Surrogate of the Right Worshipful Peter Calvert, Doctor of Laws, Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, lawfully constituted by the Oath of Thomas Watman, the Brother of the deceased and sole Executor named in the said Will, to whom Administration of all and singular the Goods, Chattels and Credits of the said deceased was granted he having been first sworn duly to Administer.


(Transcribed from the copy at the Family Records Centre, London, microfilm reference Prob11-1070-499 .)

Cliff Thornton



  1. Watman had been with Cook on his previous voyage, after which the Captain managed to obtain a place in Greenwich Hospital for his ageing seaman. On learning that Cook was preparing for his third voyage Watman managed to convince Cook that he would be a worthwhile member of the crew and he joined the Resolution on 3 Feb. 1776 whilst it was still in the dock at Deptford being re-fitted.
  2. The will was made the 26 April 1776 whilst the Resolution was still in the River Thames.
  3. Normally members of the crew call on their messmates to witness their will. But Watman was able to call on Captain Cook and William Bligh the Master of the Resolution, to be his witnesses. This must indicate the esteem in which he was held by the ship's officers.
  4. Beaglehole states that Watman was born in Reigate, Surrey, the same county that his brother Thomas was living in.
  5. Watman had joined the Resolution as an able bodied seaman, but at the time of his death was classed as a Gunner's Mate.
  6. He died on board the Resolution on 1 February 1779 whilst it was anchored in Kealakekua Bay. He had been ill for some time and after a period of convalescence ashore had returned to the boat, but he died several days later after suffering "a paralytic stroke".
  7. The Hawaiian priest arranged for Watman to be buried in the heiau at the south side of the bay, which now lies within the village of Napoopoo.

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1938, volume 25, number 2 (2002).

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Roy, the muster roll for Cook's third voyage (1776-1780) records William Watman's age as 44 when he enrolled on 3 March 1776, so that would give him a birth year of 1732. The records also indicate that he originally came from Reigate. Good luck with your research.
By Cliff Thornton on 8/19/2021 6:52:14 PM Like:0 DisLike:0
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Can you please advise if you have the age William Watman was at the time of his death? I am trying to place William and his brother, however I am having trouble locating them in Surry say birth circa 1726, any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
By Roy Watman on 8/18/2021 1:33:02 PM Like:0 DisLike:0

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