Thursday, 31 March 2011

Joseph Banks, 1771

Joseph Banks painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds 1772-72, National Portrait Gallery London.
Banks sailed on The Endeavour with James Cook on his first voyage leaving England in August 1768 and returning in July 1771. His brief stay on St Helena is described in his log as follows:
1771 May 1.
In the Morn at daybreak saw the Island of St Helena about six Leagues ahead; consequently before noon arrivd in the Road where we found his Majesties ship Portland Capt Elliot, sent out to convoy home the India men on account of the likeleyhood of a breach with Spain, also his Majesties sloop Swallow which had the day before brought word of the Pacifick measures adopted by that court, also 12 Sail of Indiamen.
1771 May 2.
As the fleet was to sail immediately and our ship to accompany it, it became necessary to make as much of a short time as possible, so this whole day was employd in riding about the Island, in the course of which we made very nearly the Compleat Circuit of it visiting all the most remarkable places that we had been told of.
1771 May 3.
Spent this day in Botanizing on the Ridge where the Cabbage trees grow, visiting Cuckolds point and Diana’s peak, the Highest land in the Island as settled by the Observations of Mr Maskelyne, who was sent out to this Island by the Royal Society for the Purpose of Observing the transit of Venus in the Year [1761]
1771 May 4. Depart St Helens (sic) for England
Saild after dinner in company with 12 Indiamen and his Majesties ship Portland, resolvd to steer homewards with all expedition in Order (if possible) to bring home the first news of our voyage, as we found that many Particulars of it has transpird and particularly that a copy of the Latitudes and Longitudes of most or all the principal places we had been at had been taken by the Captns Clerk from the Captns own Journals and Given or Sold to one of the India Captns. War we had no longer the least suspicion of: the India men being orderd to sail immediately without waiting for the few who were not yet arrivd was a sufficient proof that our freinds at home were not at all apprehensive of it.
His less than flattering account of St. Helena, which describes his visit can be found at

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