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  • Title
    James Fairfax Matthew Flinders Electronic Archive
  • Creator
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    Textual Records
    Textual Records - (printed)

    Matthew Finders was born at Donington, Lincolnshire on 16 March 1774. In 1789 he entered the Royal Navy and two years later joined HMS Providence as a midshipman, serving under William Bligh on his second 'breadfruit voyage' to Tahiti. After his return to England in 1793 he took part in the naval battle of the Glorious First of June 1794 on HMS Bellerophon. The following year he sailed for New South Wales on HMS Reliance. Also on board, as surgeon, was George Bass. Shortly after arriving in Sydney the two men explored Botany Bay and the Georges River in a small open boat called the Tom Thumb. In 1796 Flinders visited Norfolk Island in the Reliance and on his return made a second survey of the south coast with Bass in another open boat also called the Tom Thumb, this time reaching Lake Illawarra. Flinders' next voyage was to Capetown in the Reliance in order to bring back livestock for the colony. In 1798, by then a lieutenant, he accompanied the schooner Francis south to the Furneaux Islands to salvage cargo from the wrecked merchant ship Sydney Cove. During the voyage he carried out valuable survey work among the islands. After another visit to Norfolk Island he was given command of the sloop Norfolk with orders to discover whether a strait existed separating Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) from the mainland. In company with Bass, Flinders sailed in October 1798, passed through Bass Strait and circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land thus proving it to be an island. Next year he took the Norfolk northward to explore Glass House Bay (Moreton Bay) and Hervey Bay in the hope of finding large rivers by means of which the interior could be penetrated. He was unsuccessful in this and in 1800 returned to England in the Reliance where he published Observations on the coasts of Van Diemen's Land, on Bass's Strait and its islands, and on part of the coast of New South Wales. He came to the attention of Sir Joseph Banks who backed his plan to survey the entire Australian coastline with the result that in January 1801 he was promoted to the rank of commander and given command of HMS Investigator. In April he married Ann Chappelle but permission for her to accompany him on the voyage was refused. He sailed in July and sighted the west coast of Australia in December. Commencing his survey at Cape Leeuwin he sailed eastward and in April 1802 met the French navigator Nicholas Baudin, who was on a similar mission, in Encounter Bay. By May he had reached Sydney, and after overhauling his ship, pushed on northward. However the Investigator proved to be so rotten that after charting the Gulf of Carpentaria, Flinders was obliged to abandon the survey. He continued sailing westward, circumnavigated the continent and arrived back in Sydney in June 1803. With the Investigator out of action Flinders sailed for England as a passenger in HMS Porpoise in the hope of obtaining another vessel with which to complete the survey. Shortly after departing the Porpoise struck a reef and was lost. Flinders sailed her cutter back to Sydney and arranged for the rescue of his stranded shipmates. He himself set out again in the schooner Cumberland. The little vessel leaked so badly that after passing through Torres Strait he decided to seek assistance at the French island of Mauritius (or Isle of France) which he reached in December 1803. Unknown to him war had broken out between Britain and France and although he held a French passport, the governor, General de Caen, imprisoned him as a suspected spy. Flinders was detained on Mauritius for six and a half years during which time he worked on his journals, log books and charts. The last five years of his confinement were spent in comparative comfort in the island's interior among friends. He was finally released in June 1810 and immediately sailed for England. He was promoted to captain and settled down to complete his monumental book A voyage to Terra Australis. However his health was failing and he died on 19 July 1814, the day after he received the first copy from the publisher. He was survived by his wife, Ann, and a daughter, also Ann, who in due course was the mother of the famous Egyptologist, Sir William Flinders Petrie.
  • Scope and Content
    This collection consists of the following series of manuscripts, charts, pictures and realia. You may navigate to a more detailed description of each series from this record.
    1798-1799; 'Narrative of the expedition of the Colonial Sloop Norfolk, from Port Jackson through the strait which seperates Van Diemens Land from New Holland; and thence round the South Cape back to Port Jackson, Completing the circumnavigation of the former island, With some remarks on the coasts and Harbours by Mathw. Flinders 2nd. Lt. H.M.S Reliance'
    1799; 'Journal in the Norfolk Sloop by Flinders in part'
    1801-1803; Journals on the Investigator (2 volumes)
    1803-1814; Private journal
    1801-1821; Private Letterbooks, 1801-1814 (3 volumes) including letters from Ann Flinders, 1814-1821
    1805-1807; 'Public Letters written to the secretary of the Admiralty, to other boards, officers etc, and Orders given on various occasions by Matthew Flinders Esq.'
    ca. 1809-1814; Rough draft of fragments of a 'Voyage to Terra Australis'
    1805; Memorial to the Comte de Fleurieu
    1813; Letter from Sir John Franklin to Ann Flinders
    1781; 'A correct map of the African islands of Bourbon, and Mauritius or the Isle of France'.
    1799; 'A topographical plan of the settlements of New South Wales, including Port Jackson, Botany Bay and Broken Bay surveyed by Messrs. Grimes & Flinders; communicated by Lt. Col. Paterson of the New South Wales Corps'
    1801; 'Chart of part of the Coast of New South Wales from Ram Head to Northumberland Isles, by Matthew Flinders, 2nd. Lieut. of H.M.S. Reliance 1800'
    1801; 'A chart of Bass's Strait between New South Wales and Van-Diemen's Land explored by Matt.w Flinders 2nd. Lieut. of his Majesty's ship Reliance by order of His Excellency Governor Hunter, 1798-9'
    1801; 'Twofold Bay on the east coast of N.w South Wales examined by M. Flinders and R. Simpson Octob. 1798'
    1801; 'Port Dalrymple on the north coast of Van Diemen's Land as surveyed in the Norfolk sloop by M. Flinders ... Nov. and Dec. by A. Arrowsmith'
    1801; 'Western Port on the south coast of N.w South wales from Mr. Bass's eyesketch 1798'
    1801; 'The Southernmost of Furneaux's Islands by M. Flinders, 2nd Lieut. of H.M.S. Reliance'
    1814; 'General Chart of Terra Australis or Australia: showing the parts explored between 1798 and 1803 by M. Flinders Commr. of H.M.S. Investigator'.
    ca. 1800; Watercolour miniature portrait of Matthew Flinders
    1783-1800; Naval dress sword - cutlass type: said to have belonged to Matthew Flinders
    ca. 1800; Sextant made by Watkins
    ca. 1800; Bicorn, or cocked hat, belonging to Matthew Flinders
    1800; Cabin plate of the 'Investigator'
    1801; White metal medal commemorating return to health of King George III
    ca. 1812; Naval coat or sash badge, belonging to Matthew Flinders
    1800-1830; Collection of realia relating to Matthew and Ann Flinders including wooden chess set and box; shaving brush; shaving mirror; small glass dish; cardboard box containing pressed flowers, locks of hair, single pair of cuff links and a verse written by Ann Flinders; miniature writing box containing a pencil.
  • Finding Aids
    Archived at: https://web.archive.org/web/20071023033356/www.sl.nsw.gov.au/flinders/archive.html
  • General note

    The cataloguing of this collection was generously sponsored by James Fairfax, AO.
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