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  • Title
    Series 03: Joseph Banks - Endeavour journal, 25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
  • Level of description
  • Date

    25 August 1768 - 12 July 1771
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    Textual Records (2 bound volumes) - manuscript
  • Scope and Content
    Purchased in March 1768, the collier Earl of Pembroke was converted to HMS Endeavour and placed under the command of Lieutenant James Cook on a voyage of discovery to the Pacific.
    Cook’s instructions were to establish an observatory at Tahiti to view the Transit of Venus on 3 June 1769. The data obtained from this and similar observations at stations throughout the known world would be important in determining the distance between the sun and the earth, information vital to navigation. Secondly, after leaving Tahiti, he was to search for the southern continent, and make other discoveries in the name of George III. The final objective was natural history observation and discovery inspired, financed and directed by 25 year old Joseph Banks.
    In addition to the usual complement of officers, marines and crew, the Endeavour also included Banks and his party of natural scientists, artists and servants, and his friend and associate, Swedish botanist Daniel Solander. The party was completed by natural history artists Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan; secretary and artist Hermann Sporing; and Peter Briscoe, James Roberts, George Dalton and Thomas Richmond as servants and field assistants. Banks also took along his two greyhound dogs.
    The Endeavour sailed from Plymouth on 25 August 1768. Banks was engaged in natural history pursuits at every opportunity, when not incapacitated by seasickness. The Endeavour moored first at the Portuguese occupied island of Madeira in September 1768 providing Banks and his party with six days collecting on land. During their next stop at Rio de Janeiro in November, the local authorities denied the men the opportunity to go ashore and only a few risky and illegal expeditions on land were attempted.
    In January 1769 the Endeavour rounded Cape Horn. Six days spent at Tierra del Fuego ended in the deaths of George Dalton and Thomas Richmond when Banks and his party were unexpectedly caught in blizzard conditions while botanising on land.
    In April 1769, more than three months were spent at Matavai Bay, Tahiti preparing for the Transit of Venus on 3 June. Departing Tahiti on 13 July the Endeavour carried two extra passengers: the Tahitians Tupia and his servant boy Tiata who joined Banks' party. After sailing to the Society Islands, they next reached New Zealand and circumnavigated the north and south islands during the final months of 1769 and early months of 1770.
    They sailed west from New Zealand in March 1770 and reached the east coast of Australia at Botany Bay in April 1770. After a brief, and for Banks fruitful sojourn, they sailed north along the Australian east coast. Their Australian experience was dominated largely by the desperate struggle to keep the Endeavour afloat after she struck the reef along the Queensland coast on 10 June 1770. Repairs were carried out at the mouth of the Endeavour River near present day Cooktown. They sailed out of Australian waters in August.
    Passing through Torres Strait without incident the fortunes of the expedition then declined. Marked by success, including an exemplary health record, the voyage was devastated by the effects of dysentery and malaria after extensive, vital repairs were carried out on the Endeavour in Batavia from October until December 1770. A total of 39 men died from illness at or after leaving Batavia during the last leg of the voyage. The talented young artist Sydney Parkinson was among them.
    Completed on 12 July 1771, the voyage was distinguished by the excellence of Cook’s survey work and the discoveries he made, notably the east coast of Australia, and New Zealand. Banks identified and documented around 1,400 plants and more than 1,000 animals previously unknown to European science.
    Banks kept his journal conscientiously during the three year voyage making an entry for almost every day. He added headers at the top of each page, summarising the location or direction of the expedition, at a later stage.

    Series 03
    Volume 1:
    25 August 1768 - 14 August 1769; Includes `Manners & customs of the South Sea Islanders'
    ML Safe 1/12

    Volume 2:
    15 August 1769 - 12 July 1771
    ML Safe 1/13
  • General note

    Bequest of David Scott Mitchell, 1907.
    The provenance of Banks' journal of the Endeavour voyage is contentious. H.B. Carter describes it as having been sold at auction by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge on 17 June 1880. It was presumably offered for sale by Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, Lord Brabourne. It was purchased at the time by Quaritch of London who subsequently sold it to the Australian collector Alfred Lee. In 1906 the journal was bought from Lee by David Scott Mitchell who bequeathed it to the Library in 1907.
    J.C. Beaglehole in the introduction to his transcription of the journal records it being in the possession of Sir J. Henniker Heaton, M.P., during the 1890s, presumably privately acquired from Lord Brabourne. From Henniker Heaton it passed in 1894 to Alfred Lee and thence to David Scott Mitchell.
    This item has been preserved as part of the Nelson Meers Foundation Benefaction, 2002.
    Microfilm - CY 3006, frames 1 - 493
    Microfilm - CY 3010, frames 1 - 707
    Microfilm - CY 847
    Photocopy - B 1354 - B 1356:
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Name
  • Subject
  • Exhibited in

    National treasures from Australia's great libraries - Council of Australian State Libraries (1 December, 2005 - 31 December, 2006)
    A grand obsession : The D. S. Mitchell story - State Library of New South Wales (June 2007 - September 2007). Applies to: Safe 1/12

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