Matthew Flinders 1774-1814

English navigator, explorer and man of science, born on 14.03. at Donington near Boston in Lincolnshire, entered the Royal Navy on 23.10.1789. After serving on different ships, he was sent on HMS Reliance to New South Wales, where he and his friend George Bass explored the coast south of Botany Bay. After a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, where he was promoted to a lieutenancy, he surveyed in February 1798 the Furneaux Islands north of Tasmania and went with Bass in September on the 25 ton sloop Norfolk to prove by circumnavigation that Van Diemen's Land was an island. In the Summer of 1799, he surveyed the coast north of Port Jackson as far as Moreton Bay and Hervey's Bay. On his return to England, he was appointed to the command of an expedition for the thorough exploration of Terra Australis, as the southern continent was still called. He is said to have been the first person to give the continent its present name. On 18.06.1801, the expedition left Spithead on the 334 tons sloop Investigator with instructions and a passport from the French Government, as at different times there existed a state of war between England and France. The staff of the expedition included Robert Brown, the eminent English botanist, the landscape artist William Westall, the botanical illustrator Ferdinand Bauer and John Franklin, subsequently of Arctic fame. They reached Cape Leeuwin on 06.11. and King George's Sound on 09.12. They met on their way to Port Jackson in South Australia's Encounter Bay the French expedition under Nicolas Baudin reports of which were published by Francçois Peron, its biologist, and Louis Claude Desaulses de Freycinet, the commander of Le Casuarina, in 1807, while Flinders was a prisoner of war of the French in Mauritius. Peron and Freycinet in their published reports, probably under pressure of their government, claimed that their expedition had discovered much of the coast west of their meeting place and gave French names to many features, including, to mention two of them, Spencer Gulf and St. Vincent Gulf ( Golfe Bonaparte and Golfe Josephine). Seven years later. after his release and return to England, Flinders published his journals and exposed the true priorities. Flinders reached Port Jackson on 09.05. and left on 22.07. to complete the navigation of the continent in the Investigator which soon turned out to be leaky. He returned to Port Jackson on 09.06.1803. He left for England on HMS Porpoise on 10.08.1803. After being shipwrecked on a coral reef on 17.o8., he reached Port Jackson again in a six-oared cutter, leaving behind most of the crew. He returned to the reef on 08.10. to rescue the survivors and then left in the unsound 29 tons schooner Cumberland with all his documents for England. When the ship touched Mauritius, he was interned with the crew on 15.12., his passport from the French Government being considered invalid, since his ship was not the Investigator. He remained a prisoner of war until 10.06.1810 and returned to England in October of that year. Flinders finished on his own the two large quarto volumes, entitled A Voyage to Terra Australis, with a folio volume of maps. He died prematurely on their publishing day 19.07., largely due to the impairment of his health during the internment. This masterly work is widely quoted in these pages. As a scientist, Flinders is believed to have been the first to correct compass errors caused by iron in ships.

Nicolas Baudin 1754-1803

French seafarer and explorer, appointed in 1800 commander of an expedition with the two ships le Géographe and le Naturaliste, captained by Emmanuel Hamelin, to survey and explore the coast of New Holland. He died before the expedition could return to France in 1804. The results of the expedition were reported in 1807 by the naturaliste F.Peron and Captain L. de Freycinet, who had taken over the command of the expedition. It is likely that most features were named by Peron and Freycinet.

George III 1738-1830

King of Great Britain and Ireland 1760-1820, King of Hannover (1815-1820), born 04.06., son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and grandson of George II, was educated under the care of his mother and her favourite counsellor, the Earl of Bute. He became insane in 1811 and was succeeded by the regency of the Prince of Wales (later King George IV (1762-1830).

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821

born at Ajaccio on Corsica and educated at French military schools, overthrew the Revolution's Directory in the coup d'état of Brumaire (09.11.) 1799 and established a dictatorship

Claude, Comte de Forbin 1656-1733

French naval commander, born in Provence, ran away as a boy from his well-to-do home and was helped by an uncle to enter the navy, serving in his first campaign at an age of 19. Especially noteworthy was his experience when he accompanied the Chevalier de Chaumont, sent on a mission by Louis XIV to Siam to introduce there the Christian religion and European civilization. When Chaumont returned, Forbin stayed behind as advisor to the King of Siam and eventually became Grand Admiral, General of all the King's armies and Governor of Bangkok. His position became untenable as the result of intrigues of the minister Phaulcon, a Greek adventurer in the king's service. His autobiography, published in 1730, is of great interest due to his graphic and attractive style.

Jacques Bedout 1751-1818

French Rear-Admiral

Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis 1689-1759

French mathematician and astronomer, born at St. Malo 0n 17.07., entered the army at age of twenty, devoting his leisure to mathematics. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1723 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1728. In 1736, he led the expedition for the measurement of the length of a degree of the meridian to Lapland. On his return, he was elected member of almost all the learned societies of Europe. In 1742, he became Director of the French Academy of Sciences. He revisited Berlin, at the invitation of Frederick II of Prussia in 1744 and became the President of the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1746. After retirement in the South of France, he died in Basel on 27.07. He was rather querulous as was demonstrated by his controversies with Voltaire.

Le Casuarina

Baudin's third vessel which replaced Le Naturaliste

Charles Louis, Chevalier de Couëdic de Kergouelen 1749-1789

French Captain

Pierre Bouguer 1698-1758

French mathematician, born on 16.02. His father was Professor of Hydrography at Croisic in lower Brittany. He succeeded his father in 1713. In 1730, he became Professor of Hydrography at Havre, after having won several prizes of the French Academy of Sciences for research into astronomical measurements. He succeeded Maupertuis as associate geometer of the Academy. He spent ten years on the measurement of a degree of the meridian involving an expedition to Peru, published in 1749 with the title Figure de la terre déterminée. He died on 15.08.

Armand Guy Simone Coethempren, Comte de Kersaint 1742-1793

born at Paris on 29.07., entered the navy in 1755 and gained the rank of ensign for bravery in action in 1757 while serving on his father's ship. He sided with the revolution inspite of his high birth. He became a vice-admiral on 01.01.1793 and pursued vigorously ideas for the modernisation of the French Navy. However, he voted against the execution of the king and resigned from the Convention. He was executed on 04.12.

Louis-Victor de Marie, Marquis de Coeuvres, Duc D'Estrées 1660-1737

French Marshal and Admiral?


"in memory of the victor over Admiral Bing" according to Peron.

Jean Charles de Borda 1733-1799

French mathematician and nautical astronomer, born at Dax on 04.05., studied at La Flêche and obtained at an early age a commission in the cavalry. He was elected in 1756 to the Academy of Sciences after presentation of his Mémoire sur le mouvement des projectiles. His numerous later papers dealt with marine engineering problems of hydrodynamics. He died at Paris on 20.02.

Gaspard Clair François Marie Riche de Prony 1755-1839

French engineer, born on 22.06., at Chamelet, in the Department of the Rhône, educated at the École des Ponts et Chaussées, wrote an important book on bridge construction. He was appointed Professor of the mathematical sciences at the École Polytechnique in 1794 and became director of his Alma Mater four years later. He developed a method for fitting sums of exponential functions to given data.

Charles Hector, Comte d'Estaing 1729-1794

French Admiral, born at Château de Ruvel, Auvergne, entered the infantry in 1757 and the Navy in 1763. He obtained the command of the French fleet to assist the United States against Britain in 1778. He remained a royalist after the revolution, but nevertheless was appointed Commandant of the National Garde in 1789. At Marie Antoinette's trial in 1793, he bore testimony in her favour, a fact which in combination with friendly letters between him and the queen led to his trial and eventual execution on 28.02.

Honoré, Comte de Ganthéaume 1755-1818

French Admiral, succeeded in slipping out of Brest on 13.01.1801 with a squadron of seven sail of the line when a gale had driven the British blockading forces off the coast. He entered the Mediterranean, but never managed to land in Egypt.

William Marsden 1754-1836

English Orientalist born at Verval, Co. Wicklow on 16.11., appointed 1795 Second Secretary and then First Secretary to the Admiralty,

Louis-Victor de Rochechouart, Duc de Vivonne 1636-1688

Marshal of French forces in Sicily, won an important victory at Messina on 25.03.1676 and became Viceroy of the island.

Louis Joseph, Duc de Vendôme 1654-1712

French Marshal, placed in command of the Franco-Spanish army in Italy. One of the most remarkable soldiers in the history of the French army, he had an extraordinary influence over his men.

Georg John, 2nd Earl Spencer 1758-1834

served in the ministries of Pitt, Fox and Grenfield and was First Lord of the Admiralty 1794-1801. He inherited from the 3rd Earl of Sunderland the Althorp library which he developed into one of the finest private libraries in Europe.


a parish on Axholme, an island in Lincoln Shire between the rivers Trent, Idle and Don

John Jervis, Viscount St.Vincent 1735-1823

born at Meaford, Staffordshire on 09.01., entered the Royal Navy on 04.01.1749, became Lieutenant on 19.02.1755, Vice-admiral in 1793 and Admiral in 1795. He was a strict disciplinarian and dealt rigorously with rampant unrest under his command, treating men as well as officers harshly, earning the reputation of having raised the discipline in the Royal Navy. He became first Lord of the Admiralty in 1801 and held it until Pitt returned to power in 1803.

Charles Phillip Yorke 1764-1834

Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire, later for Liskenard, became secretary of state of war in Addington's ministry in 1801. He opposed concessions to Roman Catholics and caused exclusion of strangers, including press reporters, from the House of Commons. He became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1810.

Evan Nepean

Secretary to the Admiralty.

François Peron

Biologist on Baudin's ship and author of an unofficial report of the French expedition to Australia after Baudin's death. It is almost certain that he was responsible for the naming of many of the features after French scientists, artists and members of the expedition, including himself.

George Bass 1771-1802?

surgeon on H.M.S. Reliance on which Flinders first came to Australia, born at Aswarby, Lincolnshire, and trained as a surgeon, was deeply interested in zoology and botany, being the first person to describe taxonomically the wombat and white albatross. He was last heard of in 1802 when he was in Peru.

Sir Nesbit Josiah Willoughby 1777-1856

an offspring of a long established family of Nottinghamshire, entered the Royal Navy in 1790 and excelled by his unruly conduct which led to his discharge in 1800. He rejoined the navy in 1803 when war broke out with France. He commanded the Néréide frigate during its fight against a much stronger French force at Port Louis, Mauritius, just before Matthew Flinders was released from internment. This is probably when Flinders got the idea of using his name.

Charles Durand, Comte de Linois 1761-1848

French naval officer

William Westall A.R.A. 1781-1850

landscape painter, known by his illustrations to works of travel.

Robert Brown 1773-1858

born on 21.12. at Montrose, educated at the local grammar school with contemporaries Joseph Hume and James Mill, entered Marischal College in Aberdeen, but moved two years later to Edinburgh University. He met Sir Joseph Banks who offered him the post of naturalist to the Investigator expedition. On his return from Australia in 1805, he was appointed librarian to the Linnean Society and in 1810 librarian to Sir Joseph Banks who on his death in 1820 bequeathed to him the use and enjoyment of his library and collections for life. They were transferred to the British Museum in 1827, in agreement with Banks' will. He was president of the Linnean Society from 1849 to 1853. Elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1811, he received its Copley Medal in 1839. He received many other honours, including the pour le Mérite of Prussia. He died on 10.06. in the house on Soho Square, London, left to him by Banks. In 1827, he discovered the Brownian Movements.

New Holland

Matthew Flinders wrote: "The vast regions to which this voyage was principally directed, comprehend, in the western part, the early discoveries of the Dutch, under the name of New Holland; and in the east, the coasts explored by British navigators, and named New South Wales. It has not, however, been unusual to apply the first appellation to both regions; but to continue this, would be almost as great an injustice to the British nation, whose seamen have had so large a share in the discovery, as it would be to the Dutch, were New South Wales to be so extended. This appears to have been felt by a neighbouring, and even, rival nation; whose writers commonly speak of these countries under the general term of Terres Australes or Great Southland. In fact, the original name, used by the Dutch themselves until some time after Tasman's second voyage in 1644, was Terra Australis, or Great South Land; and when it was displaced by New Holland, the new term was applied only to the parts lying westwards of a meridian line, passing through Arnhem's Land on the north, and near the isles of St.Francis and St.Peter, on the south; all to the eastward, including the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, still remained as Terra Australis. This appears from a chart published by Thevenot, in 1663; which, he says, "was originally taken from that done in inlaid work, upon the pavement of the new Stadt-House at Amsterdam". The same thing is to be inferred from the notes of the Burgomaster Witsen, in 1705. It is necessary, however, to geographical precision, that so soon as New Holland and New South Wales were known to form one land, there should be a general name applicable to the whole; and this essential point having been ascertained in the present voyage, with a degree of certainty sufficient to authorise the measure, I have, with the concurrence of opinions entitled to deference, ventured upon the re-adoption of the original Terra Australis; and of this term I shall hereafter make use, when speaking of New Holland and New South Wales, in a collective sense; and when using it in the most extensive signification, the adjacent isles, including that of Van Diemen, must be understood to be comprehended. Flinders added the following footnote: Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into


as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other portions of the earth.

Abel Janszoon Tasman 1603 - 1659

greatest of Dutch navigators, discoverer of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), New Zealand, the Tonga and the Fiji Islands, first circumnavigated Australia. He was born at Lutjegast in Groningen. In 1634, he was first referred to in the East Indies, sailing from Batavia (18.02.) to Amboina. On 30.12.1636, he sailed from Batavia for home; he reached Holland on 01.08.1637, returned to the East on 15.04.1638, and reappeared at Batavia on 11.10 of that year. On 02.06.1639, he was dispatched in the company of Matthew (Matthijs Hendricxsen) Quast by Antony Van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (1636-1645), on a voyage to the north-western Pacific, in quest of certain "Islands of gold and silver", supposed to lie in the ocean east of Japan. On this voyage Tasman and Quast visited the Philippines and improved Dutch knowledge of the east coast of Luzon; they also discovered and mapped various islands to the north, apparently the Bonin archipelago. Sailing on to N. and E. in search of the isles of precious metals, they ranged about fruitlessly in the northern Pacific, at one time believing themselves to be 600 miles east of Japan. After this, the voyage was continued almost constantly westward, but in varying latitudes, reaching as high as 42ºN., always without success. On 15.10.1639, the navigators decided to return, and, after touching at Japan, anchored at the Dutch fortress-station of Zeelandia in Formosa on 24.11.1639. After this, Tasman was engaged in operations in the Indian seas, sailing to Formosa, Japan, Cambodia, Palembang, etc., as a merchant captain in the service of the Dutch East India Company until 1642, when he set out on his first great "South Land" expedition. Sailing from Batavia on 14.08.1642 with the two vessels Heemskerk and Zeehaan and calling at Mauritius (05.09. to 08.10.), he first sighted Tasmania on 24.11., sailed on to New Zealand which he reached on 13.12. Eventually, he returned to Batavia along a route north of New Guinea on 15.06.1643. In 1644, he was sent out again with three ships, the Limmen, Zeemeeuw and Brak, on a not well documented expedition which took him along Australia's North Coast. He explored completely and may have named the Gulf of Carpentaria. He quitted the Company's service in 1653 and probably died in Batavia on 22.10.1659 after making his will on 10 April 1657.

Marc-Joseph Marion, Sieur du Fresne

Captain of Le Mascarin, a French ship which left Île de France (Mauritius) on 18.10.1771 in company of Le Marquis de Castries to return the Tahitian Ahutoru to his homeland and explore the Southern Ocean. The expedition discovered the Austral and Crozet Islands.

Julien Crozet

Captain of the French ship Le Marquis de Castries which in company of Le Mascarin under Marc-Joseph, Sieur du Fresne left Île de France (Mauritius) on 18.10.1771 to explore the Southern Ocean and return the Tahitian Ahutoru to his homeland.

Tobias Furneaux 1731-1781

, born at Swilly near Plymouth on 21.08., entered the Royal Navy and took part in the Seven Years War during 1760-1763. He served as Second Lieutenant on Dolphin under Captain Samuel Wallis during a voyage around the world (August 1766 - May 1768). In November 1771, he became Commander of Adventure which accompanied Captain Cook on Resolution during his second voyage. He was twice separated from Cook (8 February - 19 May, 1773 and 22.10.1773 - 14.07.1774) returning to England on the latter date. During the former period, he explored a large part of the East and South coasts of Tasmania, while preparing the first British chart of the region. Most of the names given by him have survived. Cook visited the area on his third voyage to confirm Furneaux's work, make small adjustments to it and name the island group in Bass Strait after him. During the latter period, after separation of Resolution from Adventure off New Zealand, he returned to England on his own, bringing with him Omai of Alaietea, the first South Sea Islander seen in the British Isles, who returned home with Cook in 1776-1777. Furneaux was made Captain in 1775 and commanded Syren during the British attack on 28.06.1776 on Charleston, South Carolina. He became known especially through his introduction of domestic animals and potatoes into the islands of the South Sea. He died at Silly on 19.09.

James Cook 1728-1779

born on 28.10. at Marton Village, Cleveland, Yorkshire, where his father was a farm labourer and then a farm bailiff, was apprenticed at 12 to a haberdasher at Straithes, near Whitby, and afterwards to Messrs. Walker, shipowners of Whitby, whom he served for years in the Norway, Baltic and Newcastle trades. In 1755, after promoted to Mate, he joined the Royal Navy and was promoted again after four years service, on recommendation of his commander Sir Hugh Palliser, to Master, serving successively on Garland and then on Solebay on the St.Lawrence River which he sounded and surveyed. When Palliser became Governor of Newfoundland, Cook was appointed Marine Surveyor of the Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. At that time, he also became known as mathematician and astronomer through his observations of the solar eclipse on 05.08.1766 and his corresponding account in the Philosophical Transactions. In 1768, Cook was appointed to observe the pending transit of Venus and undertake geographical research in the South Pacific Ocean. After his promotion to Lieutenant on 25 May, his ship Endeavour departed on 25 August with several scientists, including Sir Joseph Banks. They reached Tahiti on 13.04.1769 and observed the transition on 03.06. On the way west, in search of the great continent which was presumed to exist, he explored the Society Islands, circumnavigated and charted New Zealand for six months and discovered the channel between the North and South Islands (Cook Strait). Next, he proceeded to New Holland and surveyed its East Coast with the same care. He named it New South Wales after a supposed resemblance to Glamorganshire, while his botanists named Botany Bay, visited on 28.04.1770. Here and in New Zealand, the hostility of the natives prevented him from intruding into the interior. From there he sailed to Batavia, checking Torres' statement of 1607 that New Guinea was separated from Australia. On his return to England via the Cape of Good Hope on 12.06.1770, he was made Commander and soon afterwards sent out again on another expedition to examine and resolve once and for all questions relating to the supposed Great Southern Continent. He sailed from Plymouth on 13.07.1772 on the 462 tons Resolution with the 330 tons Adventure under Captain Furneaux. They studied the South Pacific Ocean right down to the Antarctic and determined the exact position of Easter Island, discovered by the Dutchman Roggewein, the Marquesas, Tonga and Friendly Islands. They rested at Tahiti, sailed on to the New Hebrides, originally named by Quiros "Southern Land of the Holy Spirit" (Esperitu Santo), and discovered New Caledonia, Norfolk Island and the Isle of Pines. Next, they revisited New Zealand, examined the Antarctic Ocean south of Australia and returned to Plymouth on 25.07.1775 via Cape Horn after a brief survey of the "Land of Fire". Cook's third and final voyage concerned the North-West Passage. Sailing from Plymouth on 12.07., he headed for Tasmania and thence visited and discovered more islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii, before he headed north along the American coast to Alaska and the Bering Strait. He returned eventually to the Hawaiian Islands, where he was killed by the natives on the morning of 14.02.1779.

William Bligh 1754-1817

from a well-to-do Cornish family, accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage (1772-1774) as sailing-master of Resolution. During this voyage, the bread-fruit, already known to Dampier, was found at Otaheite. "Bread-Fruit Bligh" was dispatched at the end of 1787 to the Pacific Ocean in command of H.M.S.Bounty to introduce the fruit to the West Indies. He stayed at Otaheite for six months during which he collected the trees. On 28.04.1789, at the Friendly Islands, a mutiny broke out, headed by Christian Fletcher, the Master's Mate, and Bligh was set adrift in a launch together with eighteen other crew members. The mutineers settled on the Pitcairn Islands; some of them were captured later on, brought to England and three of them were executed. The reason for the mutiny was the crew members' attachment to the women of Tahiti rather than the tyranny of Bligh. Bligh and his companions reached the 4000 miles away Timor, from where he returned to England in 1790. Soon afterwards, Bligh sailed on Providence to complete the bread fruit project. In 1805, he was appointed "Captain General and Governor of New South Wales" in which position he made himself through harsh exercise of his authority so unpopular that he was deposed January 1808 by a mutiny headed by Major George Johnston of the 102nd Foot, and was imprisoned by the mutineers until 1810. He returned to England to be promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1811 and Vice-Admiral in 1814. Major Johnston was court-martialed at Chelsea in 1811 and dismissed from the Service. Bligh died in London.

John Henry Cox

undertook in the brig Mercury, "a fine new copper-bottomed vessel built by that ingenious naval architect Mr. Stalkaart of Deptford", a journey from motives of curiosity, the fur-trade on the North West Coast of America being the ultimate object. A brief diary of this journey was published in 1791 by Lieutenant George Mortimer of the Marines.

Nathaniel Portlock

Commander of Assistant, second vessel of Bligh's second Bread-Fruit journey, father of Joseph Ellison Portlock (1794-1864), British geologist and soldier.

John Hayes

of the Bombay Marines, commander of the vessels Duke of Clarence and Dutchess which originated from Calcutta.

Joseph Antoin de Bruny D'Entrecasteaux 1739-1793

leader of French expedition, was sent out in 1791 by Louis XVI, King of France, under authorization of the National Assembly and its President Adrein Duport, to find La Pérouse. His vessels La Recherche and L'Esperance carried several scientists, including Jacques Labillardière, who published his own version of the voyage before the official report, in time for its use by Matthew Flinders. D'Entrecasteaux died on 20.07.