In 2015 I was alerted to a manuscript held at the National Library of Australia in their collection of “The Papers of Sir Joseph Banks”. Among the items are documents relating to the publication and distribution of “Captain Cook’s Voyages between December 1783 and July 1787”.1 One, according to the catalogue entry, is an “undated list of Presents made by order of the Admiralty”.
Four years after the end of the Third Voyage, the official account of it appeared, in 1784. Edited by Dr John Douglas, Canon of Windsor and St Paul’s, the lengthy title was A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the Command of his Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. To determine The Position and Extent of the West Side of North America; its Distance from Asia; and the Practicability of a Northern Passage to Europe. Performed under the direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, In His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Discovery. In the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. In Three Volumes. Vol. I and II written by James Cook, F.R.S. Vol. III by Captain James King, LL.D. and F.R.S.
This work of three volumes sold for £4.14s.6d (four and a half guineas), and is hereafter referred to as The Publication.
The manuscript shows the names of 39 people and institutions that were to receive presentation copies of The Publication. I have listed their names in bold as they appear in the list, adding a brief biography to each one that helps to explain why they were chosen to receive The Publication. The list of designated recipients includes some of the most prominent individuals and institutions of the era. It reflects the high esteem in which Captain Cook and his achievements were held.
The following were the seven Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty from 2 April, 1784, to 16 July, 1788.
Ld. Howe: Richard Howe (1726-1799) was 1st Earl Howe, a British naval officer, promoted to full Admiral on 8 April, 1782. He became First Lord of the Admiralty in January 1783, but then resigned in April 1783, when the Duke of Portland came to power. He was re-appointed in December, 1783. During his term as First Lord he experienced much opposition from parliament for his attempted reforms and improvements, and received no support from the prime minister, William Pitt the Younger. Howe disagreed with Pitt over the economies planned by Pitt for the navy, so resigned his post as First Lord in 1788.
Mr. Brett: Charles Brett (1715-1799) was a British Member of Parliament from a naval family. In 1782 he was appointed a Lord of the Admiralty, and, after a brief break from office the following year, went on to hold his office at the Admiralty until 1788.
Mr. Hopkins: Richard Hopkins (1728-1799) was an MP for Thetford 1780-1784, Queensborough 1784-1796, and Harwich 1796 until 1799. He was a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty from 1782 until 1791, when he became Lord of the Treasury until his death in 1799.
Mr. Pratt: John Jeffreys Pratt (1759-1840) was 1st Marquess Camden. He was a Lord of the Admiralty between 1782 and 1789.
Capt. L. Gower: The Hon. John Leveson-Gower (1740-1792) was a Royal Navy officer and politician. He was first captain of HMS Victory in 1782, and became a junior Lord of the Admiralty under Richard Howe, continuing there until 1790. In 1791 he was appointed a Rear Admiral to serve under Admiral Lord Hood.
Ld. Apsley: Henry Bathurst, 7th Earl Bathurst (1762-1834) was Lord of the Admiralty from December 1783 to 1789.
Mr. Perceval: Charles George Perceval (1756-1840) was 1st Baron Arden. He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Launceston 1780-1790, and was a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty 1783-1801.
The next three people were connected to the Admiralty.
Mr. Stephens: Sir Philip Stephens (1723-1809) was 1st Baronet. He was a Member of Parliament (MP). From 1763 for about 30 years he was Secretary of the Admiralty, and in regular communication with Cook. Stephens was on the advisory committee that was formed during the editing of Cook’s Third Voyage logs and journals.2
Mr. Ibbetson: John Ibbetson (1736-1804). From Shoebury in Essex. He was Secretary to Greenwich Hospital, Deputy and Second Secretary to the Admiralty from 1782, and Secretary to the Board of Longitude 1763-1782.3
Sr Hy Parker: Sir Harry Parker (1735-1812) was 6th Baronet of Melford Hall. From a distinguished naval family, he was Secretary to the Board of Longitude 1782-1795, after which William Wales took this post.4
Office of the Admiralty
Ld. Sandwich: Lord Sandwich was John Montague (1718-1792). The 4th Earl of Sandwich, he was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1771 to 1782. He took the chair on the advisory committee that was formed during the editing of The Publication.5
Ld. Keppell: Lord Keppell was Admiral Augustus Keppell (1725-1786). He was an MP and served as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1782 to 1783.
Mr. Jackson: George Jackson (1725-1822) was assistant secretary to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty under Philip Stephens, and judge-advocate of the fleet. He was knighted in 1791. Port Jackson, the future site of Sydney was named after him. Born in North Yorkshire, he was Deputy Secretary of the Admiralty, and first clerk, marine department, from 1766 to 1782.
Mrs. Cook: Elizabeth Cook, née Batts (1741-1835). The widow of Captain James Cook, she was listed to have been presented with two copies of The Publication. She died on 13 May, 1835, at the grand old age of 93, outliving her husband and all of their children.
Dr. Douglas: John Douglas (1721-1807) was a Scottish clergyman, canon of Windsor & St Paul’s. He served as overall editor of The Publication. Dr Douglas and Elizabeth Cook were the only two people on the list who were destined to receive two copies.
Mr. Banks: Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) accompanied Cook as botanist on the First Voyage, and was a consultant on the publication committee of the Third Voyage Journals.6
Capt. King: James King (1750-1784) was second lieutenant on the Third Voyage, sharing duties of astronomer with Cook. Upon the death of Charles Clerke, Cook’s successor on the voyage, King was appointed to command HMS Discovery. After his return he was very much involved in the publication of the official account of Cook’s Third Voyage, writing the third volume at Woodstock, near Oxford, where his brother Thomas was rector.
Capt. Gore: John Gore (1730-1790) joined the First Voyage as third lieutenant in Endeavour. He commanded Resolution on its journey back to Britain on the Third Voyage after the deaths of Cook and then Clerke.
Mr. Dalrymple: Alexander Dalrymple (1737-1808) was first hydrographer of the Admiralty Hydrographic Office in 1795, and previously hydrographer of the East India Company (EIC). He served as consultant on the maps and charts on the publishing committee of The Publication.7
Mr. Stuart: James Stuart (1713-1788) was an artist and architect. He was on the publishing committee of the journals as art critic.8
Baron Engel: Samuel Engel (1702-1784) was a geographer of Geneva, Switzerland. He was convinced that the north polar sea was not frozen, as sea water supposedly didn’t freeze. Engel struck up lengthy correspondence with the Royal Society, particularly Daines Barrington, on the subject. Together they argued that the origin of the ice around the Polar Regions was merely from the arctic river ice as it broke up each summer. Their theory contributed to the quest on the Third Voyage to find a Northwest Passage.9 Baron Engel died the year the Journals were published.
Mr. Wales: William Wales (1734-1798) was the astronomer in Resolution on the Second Voyage. He contributed to The Publication; at the end of volume III his tables were appended with the ships’ routes.10
Mr. Bayly: William Bayly (1737-1810) was the astronomer in Adventure on the Second Voyage, and in Discovery on the Third Voyage.
Col. Behm: Magnus von Behm (1727-1806) was the chief commander of Kamchatka from 1773 to 1779.11 Governor Behm was asked to convey letters to St Petersburg, and it was through him that the first news of Cook’s death reached Europe. He had crossed the sea to Okhotsk, and undertook the long journey overland to St Petersburg carrying letters and copies of journals destined for the Admiralty.12
Mr. Webber: John Webber (1751-1793) was the artist in Resolution on the Third Voyage. Many of his drawings and paintings were included in The Publication.13
Mr. Roberts: Henry Roberts (1757-1796) sailed on the Second Voyage in Resolution as an AB, drawing charts and coastal views. On the Third Voyage he was a master’s mate, made a painting of Resolution, kept a log, and drew charts that were included in The Publication. He worked on them from 1781 to 1784. He was promoted to commander in 1790, and to captain in 1794.14
Bodleian Oxford: The Bodleian Library, Oxford, first opened to scholars in 1602.
Public at Cambridge. The Public Library at Cambridge dates from the early decades of the fifteenth century.
British Museum: In London. First established in 1753, it included a library.
Royal Society: In London. Founded in 1660, it included a library.
Hudson’s Bay Company
The following had connections to the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). The HBC, through Deputy Governor Samuel Wegg, had generously shared the results of its explorations, notably by Samuel Hearne and William Christopher. Dr. John Douglas in his “Introduction” to The Publication, wrote,
Mr Wegg besides sharing in the thanks so justly due to the committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, for their unreserved communications, was particularly obliging to the Editor, by giving him repeated opportunities of conversing with Governor Hearne, and Captain Christopher.15
Gnr. Wegg: Samuel Wegg (1723-1802) was Governor of the HBC from 1782 to 1799, and was treasurer of the Royal Society from 1768 to 1802.16
Capt. Christopher: William Christopher (1729-1797) was commodore of the HBC’s fleet. He had surveyed Chesterfield Inlet for the HBC. The information this provided was to be particularly useful to Cook in his preparations in searching for a Northwest Passage.
Mr. Herne: Samuel Hearne (1745-1792) produced a manuscript journal, and maps of his journey to the Coppermine River, which had been loaned to the Admiralty by Samuel Wegg prior to Cook’s Third Voyage.17
Cape of Good Hope
Cook had met the following people at the Cape of Good Hope.
Van Plettenburgh Govr of the Cape: Governor Joachim A Van Plettenburg (1739-1793) met Cook on both the Second and Third Voyages. He was Governor of the Cape Province in 1771-1785.18
Mynheer Brand [sic]: Mynheer Christoffel Brandt (1730-1815) was born at the Cape, and died there. He held the post of bookkeeper in the Dutch EIC, and was appointed Resident at Simonstown in 1774, under British occupation of the Cape. He was a close friend of Joseph Banks, who he had met at the Cape in 1771 when Endeavour called there. In 1772, Cook wrote to Banks telling him that Brandt had made a fine collection for him.
Rol [sic] Gordon, Commandant: Col. George Gordon was Dutch, but of Scottish descent. He was Commander of the Dutch forces at the Cape. He was a friend of Cook, and a naturalist.19
The next group of five are the main royal people of Britain, Russia and France.
His Majesty: George William Frederick (1738-1820) became George III in 1760.
The Queen: Charlotte (1744-1818) was the wife of George III; they married in 1761. She was originally Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
The Prince of Wales: George August Frederick (1762-1830) was the son of George III. He succeeded to the throne in 1820, becoming George IV.
Empress of Russia: Catherine the Great (1729-1796). Russia had been most accommodating when James King and his companions were at Kamchatka, where Charles Clerke was buried. Russia had also, through Governor Behm, been able to get news of Cook’s death and several important documents back to England. One paper reported,
The Empress of Russia expressed a most deep concern at the Loss of Captain Cook. She was the more sensibly affected from her very partial regard to his merits; and when she was informed of the hospitality shown by the Russian Government at Kamchatka to Captain Clerke, she said no Subject in her Dominions could show too much Friendship to the Survivors of Captain Cook.20
King of France: Louis XVI (1774-1792) was a great admirer of Cook. He had a special edition of The Publication prepared for his son, the Dauphin. It is said that even Queen Marie Antoinette chose the Travels of Cook as one of two books she was allowed to read before her execution in 1793.21 Cook’s voyages inspired the King to send out La Pérouse, with two ships, on a voyage to the Pacific to claim France’s part in exploration and mapping of the Pacific. After sailing from Botany Bay in 1788, the ships were lost.
Two People on Their Own
In the top right hand corner of the manuscript are two individuals on their own.
Dr. Franklin: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), of Philadelphia, USA, was a printer by trade. He turned to science in middle age, and became a famous politician. When Cook was due back from his last voyage around the world, Dr Franklin issued a passport to protect his vessel, in case it should be met by American cruisers. It was this act that was properly recognised by the presenting of a copy of The Publication, together with a very polite letter from Lord Howe signifying that the gift was made with the King’s express approbation.22
Ruskin, the Priest of Paratoonka: Romaan Feodorwitz Vereshagin was priest of the church at the village of Kamchatka when the ships called there twice during the Third Voyage. On the first occasion he showed much kindness after hearing of Charles Clerke’s ill health, and sent food.23 During the second visit the priest advised Captain Gore on a suitable site for the burial of Clerke, and also attended the burial.
Stationer’s Company and Reviews
In the bottom right hand corner of the manuscript is a note to assure that the Stationer’s Company and “Reviewers” were sent copies.
Stationer’s Company——9: One of the London Guilds. In order to prevent plagiarism, authors could register their publications with the Company. This required them to receive nine copies at Stationer's Hall for distribution to the British Museum, and to English and Scottish Universities.
Reviews——2: It appears two copies were allocated for the literary critics of the day to write reviews for magazines, for example The Monthly Review, published from 1749 to 1845.
- Papers of Sir Joseph Banks, 1745-1923.Series 1: Correspondence and papers of Sir Joseph Banks.Item 27 - 27e: Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820. Documents relating to the publication and distribution of Captain Cook's voyages, between December 1783 and July 1787.Online at http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/cdview/?pi=nla.ms-ms9-27
- Ragnall, Steve. Better Conceiv’d than Describ’d. Matador. 2013. Page 147.
- Wales, Wendy. Captain Cook’s Computer. Hame House. 2015. Page 364.
- ibid. Page 365.
- Ragnall.op. cit.Page 147.
- Williams, Glyn. Voyages of Delusion. Harper Collins. 2002.
- Wales. op. cit. Page 337.
- Scots Magazine. 1784. Vol. 46. Page 638.
- Robson, John. Captain Cook’s World. Chatham Publishing.2001. Maps 3.27 and 3.28.
- Ragnall. op. cit. Page 147.
- Robson, John. The Captain Cook Encyclopædia. Chatham Publishing. 2004.
- The Publication. op. cit. Page lxxxiv.
- Beaglehole, J.C. The Life of Captain James Cook. A&C Black. 1974. Page 483.
- ibid.Page 489.
- Innes, Hammond. The Last Voyage: Captain Cook’s Lost Diary. Random House. 1978. Page 73.
- Ragnall.op. cit.Page 143.
- London Gazette. 8 February, 1780.
- Williams, Glyn. The Death of Captain Cook. Profile Books. 2008.
- Sparks, Jared. In The Works of Benjamin Franklin. Hilliard, Gray, and Co. 1840.
- Cowley, Gordon & Deacon, Les. In the Wake of Captain Cook – the Life and Times of Captain Charles Clerke, R.N., 1741-79. Richard Kay. 1997. Page 174.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 12, volume 40, number 3 (2017).