We at the Hakluyt Society were deeply saddened to receive the news of the death of Dr Ian Jackson, on 22 September. He had made outstanding contributions to the work of the Society, which he joined in the 1960s, by serving on Council, editing three volumes and delivering the Annual Lecture in 2005.
Ian Jackson was born in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1935 and studied geography at London and McGill Universities. His career had an unusual range, as he worked for institutions as varied as the Canadian International Geophysical Year, the London School of Economics, the Government of Canada and the United Nations (serving in Geneva and in New York).
In 1957-8 as a graduate research student he was part of Operation Hazen at the Canadian Defence Research Board weather and research station at Lake Hazen on Ellesmere Island where the team was subjected to temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius for 121 days and a long isolation from the outside world when their radio failed. Ian’s lively account of this adventure was published in 2002 in Does Anyone Read Lake Hazen?
In his later years Ian lived in New England and finally in Montreal, apart from extensive periods in a small cottage near Whitby in his native Yorkshire which he acquired while transcribing the fascinating manuscript journals of William Scoresby the Younger in the Whitby Museum. These were later published in three volumes in the Hakluyt Society’s third series as The Arctic Whaling Journals of William Scoresby the Younger, between 2003 and 2009. The Society’s Annual Lecture in 2005 was given by Ian and published by the Society as Fort Yukon: The Hudson’s Bay Company in Russian America. Ian was also the historical advisor to the exhibition ‘Cook and Canada – A Reputation in the Making’ at Whitby’s Captain Cook Memorial Museum in 2009.
As an example of his style, we might quote the final point made in his Annual Lecture, prefaced by the tantalising remark: ‘I cannot resist closing this lecture with a story that I have waited forty years or so to tell.’ In 1867 the United States paid Russia seven million dollars for Alaska, a price that has generally been regarded as a bargain. In fact, Jackson explained, ‘when Edward Stoeckl, the Russian Minister, arrived in Washington to negotiate the sale, he was under instructions from his government to try to get five million. And if a buyer pays 40% more than the seller would have accepted, it is not a bargain.’
In this guest blog, Dr Cheryl Fury (University of New Brunswick), a recipient of this year’s Hakluyt Society Research Grants for her work on “The Human Dimension of the Early Voyages of the English East India Company”, talks about her quest to unearth biographical details about one remarkably colourful individual, the Tudor-Stuart shipmaster Abraham Lawse (c. 1559-1613). Fury’s study reveals how much historical detail can be recovered about ordinary lives through careful archival research.
When I was working on my PhD dissertation on the social history of Elizabethan seamen in the 1990s, I spent a great deal of time combing through High Court of the Admiralty cases, parish records, wills, and whatever else might yield information about the personal and professional lives of late Tudor seafarers. The highest-ranking men in the English maritime community were the most likely to leave a paper trail in the historical records, affording researchers the opportunity to “meet” them at various junctures of their lives: shipmaster Abraham Lawse (c. 1559-1613) was one such man.
I first encountered Lawse in parish records from 1584, when he was a young man getting married to Sara Laikyn. Abraham and Sara lived in Ratcliffe, Stepney – a Thames-side parish populated with many families connected to London’s maritime trades. Because shipmasters were skilled navigators who shouldered great responsibility, Lawse and his ilk commanded significantly higher wages than most of their crews: this meant Lawse had the wherewithal to marry in his mid-20s and support a family early in his career.
We don’t know what his wife brought to the marriage but Lawse would have been a “good catch” in the local marriage market.
Lawse’s early prospects dimmed considerably when he was caught up in the rising tide of maritime violence of the late sixteenth century. As the master of the Harry of London, Lawse had been captured by Dunkirker privateers on a voyage from London to Danske and imprisoned for seven months until his “great ransom” was paid by London merchants. Lawse employed a number of strategies to restore his fortunes.
In 1587 Lawse petitioned the Crown and was granted a begging license because he was “utterly impoverished” and on the verge of going to jail for debt. This license allowed him to seek donations from London parishes for three months. He also applied to the Admiralty for letters of reprisal as the Captain and master of the Greyhound of London to seek compensation for his losses through privateering. Lawse was fortunate that he seems to have returned to England in good health, able to resume his seafaring career and work towards restoring his young family’s financial wellbeing.
Lawse was visited by misfortune again in 1604, when he and his men were attacked by Captain John Ward and his pirate crew. During this ordeal, Lawse told the Admiralty court that one of the pirates threatened to put him in an old sail and throw him overboard – doubtless a technique for soliciting all shipboard items of worth with a minimum of resistance. Lawse was eventually allowed to depart with his ship although the pirates took his lading and provisions. Once again, Lawse seems to have escaped unharmed.
As a grateful recipient of a research grant from the Hakluyt Society, I went to London recently to investigate the early voyages of the East India Company. I was delighted to meet with Abraham Lawse once again: this time in an account of the Company’s sixth voyage (1610-1613). Lawse was serving as the master of the Peppercorn in a small EIC fleet under Sir Henry Middleton. The Company hired respected seamen and a veteran mariner like Lawse had been tested by fire. Given what I knew of his life, I wasn’t surprised Lawse was in a dire situation once more.
EIC voyages were extremely taxing physically and mentally. Morbidity and mortality were very high. Hostilities often turned violent between the English and rival traders from Europe and Asia. Lawse survived over 3 years, from the fleet’s departure from England in April, 1610 until July, 1613, when his luck well and truly ran out.
Nicholas Downton, captain of the Peppercorn, recorded in his journal that “we had many men sick of the scurvy god sent us”. Abraham Lawse was among the sick but the master made a startling claim: he believed that his ailment was not scurvy but rather he was “poisoned by reason of his stomake failing him and hauing often inclination to vomit”. He maintained his symptoms were the same as when he had been poisoned in Venice previously.
Such accusations were sure to send ripples of distrust throughout the small fleet during an already tense voyage. In his journal, Downton criticized Lawse for stirring up mistrust without naming possible suspects, “and soendevors to leave a scandal”.
When Lawse died on July 27, 1613, the ship surgeon did an autopsy –a first on an East India Company vessel, to my knowledge. In order to quell this suspicion, Downton records that in the presence of diverse witnesses, the surgeon opened Lawse’s corpse and “took notice how his innard partes were conditioned.” Presumably the witnesses were satisfied that Lawse had not been poisoned as there were no further accusations, investigation, nor a trial in the wake of his death.
Lawse provides an interesting case study in the occupational lives of Tudor-Stuart seamen. As a young shipmaster, Lawse had excellent career prospects. However, this was no guarantee of success in the rough and tumble world of early modern seafaring. The Elizabethan period, and the Anglo-Spanish war (1585-1604) in particular, was a time of increased maritime violence: Lawse was a victim of pirates and privateers at least twice in his career. He was fortunate to escape with his life and his health.
Personally and professionally, Abraham Lawse was a man who knew loss. He was also a tenacious mariner intent on using multiple means to reverse his misfortunes: he had connections to London merchants who paid his ransom, he petitioned the Crown successfully for a begging license, he collected donations from local parishes to repay his debts, he sought and obtained letters of reprisal from the Admiralty to engage in privateering, and in general, Abraham Lawse worked to rebuild his fortunes by going to sea and diligently plying his craft.
His earlier run-ins with danger do not seem to have convinced him to confine himself to less risky voyages closer to home even in his advancing years. Lawse was born circa 1559, making him around 54 when he died. This is a very respectable life-span for someone in Tudor-Stuart times; it is doubly so for someone who had survived a lengthy and dangerous career at sea of over 30 years. Because privateers were compensated only with shares of any prizes taken, it was a risky venture for Lawse to undertake when his fortunes were at their lowest ebb. To sign up for a punishing voyage to the East Indies while in his early 50s also says much about Lawse.
This case study demonstrates that an individual who has no particular claim to be remembered 400 years after his death has left quite a number of footprints in the pages of surviving sources. Although there is nothing near a complete biography, by consulting a range of historical records, it is gratifying to see the broad strokes of this tenacious London shipmaster’s colourful life emerge to those who are willing to dig around in the archives
The two free exhibitions in Oxford will run from October to December 2016. On Friday 14 October, Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650 will be launched at Christ Church, Hakluyt’s old college, with a symposium on Renaissance scientific instruments and a reception. In November, events at Christ Church will include workshops on scientific instruments from the Christ Church collection by Dr Allan Chapman and Dr Stephen Johnston.
On Friday 28 October, The World in a Book: Hakluyt and Renaissance Discovery will be launched with a lecture (5:30pm) by William Poole (New College), introducing the books which heralded an era of exploration, discovery, and imperial expansion. The lecture opens a display at the Bodleian’s Weston Library of the works and collections of Richard Hakluyt. One of the greatest treasures of the library, the Codex Mendoza, once owned by Hakluyt, will be included in this exhibition.
At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 27 November, there will be a commemorative service in All Saints Church, Wetheringsett, Suffolk, IP14 5PP, Hakluyt’s parish, which will be led by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, with the dedication of a stone plaque in memory of Richard Hakluyt. This will be followed by a buffet lunch in the Village Hall with a programme of music and readings. There will be an opportunity for small groups of Hakluyt Society members to visit the surviving part of Hakluyt’s former rectory.
Members who wish to be present at Wetheringsett are asked to contact the Society (email@example.com) as early as possible to assist the planning of the local organisers.
The two-day conference, Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World, takes place on 24 November at the Bodleian Library, and on 25 November at Christ Church, Oxford. Twenty renowned experts on Hakluyt and early modern travel and exploration have accepted an invitation to speak at the conference. The keynote lecture on 24 November, “No Land Unhabitable, Nor Sea Innavigable“: Hakluyt’s Argument from Design will be delivered by Professor Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University). At the conclusion of the event on 25 November, a free to attend public lecture, Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries, will be given by the well-known broadcaster and historian Professor Michael Wood (more info below).
Registration for this two-day event costs £100 per person or £60 for members of the Hakluyt Society and for postgraduates. The fee includes coffee/tea, lunches, and a reception at Christ Church on the Thursday evening. Space is limited and early registration is advised.
The Hakluyt Society proudly announces the upcoming publication of Sir Joseph Banks, Iceland and the North Atlantic 1772-1820: Journals, Letters and Documents, edited by Professor Anna Agnarsdóttir. This long-anticipated volume, which is about to appear as part of the Hakluyt Society’s Third Series, will be distributed for free to all members of the Hakluyt Society. In this post, Professor Agnarsdóttir discusses the significance of Banks’ scientific expedition to Iceland and its aftermath. You can hear her speak at two launch events later this month, hosted by the Royal Society, and Lincoln Cathedral, respectively.
After the successful Endeavour voyage [Hakluyt Society Extra Series 34], Sir Joseph Banks was due to sail on James Cook’s second voyage to the South Seas. Unhappy with the accommodation, Banks withdrew and sailed with his twenty-strong party to Iceland, thus leading the first British scientific expedition to this remote island in 1772. Thus began Banks’s association with Iceland.
This volume contains the Iceland journals of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) – including an account of his ascent of the volcano Hekla – and his servant James Roberts. Secondly, all extant documents regarding Banks and the North Atlantic (concerning the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Norway) from preparations for his expedition to his death in 1820 have been collected from repositories worldwide.
The bulk of the documents falls into two categories: the 1772 Iceland expedition and the Napoleonic Wars period 1807-1814. The latter illuminate how Banks acted as a powerful protector of the Icelanders, with his detailed plans for annexing Iceland to the British Empire. This, he believed, would be a humanitarian solution to the plight of the Icelanders, cut off by the Royal Navy from their mother country, Denmark. A great many documents deal with “The Icelandic Revolution” of 1809, when a British trading expedition, granted a license to trade in Iceland by the Privy Council, seized power. Iceland was proclaimed an independent country, under the protection of Great Britain.
Although this was ended by the intervention of a British sloop-of-war, the following year George III placed the Danish dependencies in the North Atlantic in a state of neutrality and amity with England and free trade was established between them and Britain. Iceland was thus placed under the protection of Britain, the Iceland trade being regulated by the Board of Trade, and a British consul was appointed to the island. A great many letters relate to trade and the difficulties experienced both by British and Iceland merchants during the Napoleonic Wars, for instance the question of neutral trade, the British licensing system, and the capture of merchant vessels. These documents are important sources not only for Icelandic history but also for Georgian Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.
Anna Agnarsdóttir is Professor of History in the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik. She has published on Icelandic history, exploratory voyages in the North Atlantic, and global encounters more widely. She will participate in a panel discussion entitled Banks in the Land of Ice and Fire hosted by the Royal Society on 26 April 2016, which the public is free to attend. On 28 April, she will give a free lecture entitled Sir Joseph Banks in Iceland and the North Atlantic in the Wren Library at Lincoln Cathedral. Both events are sponsored by the Hakluyt Society.
The Hakluyt Society is delighted to announce the outcome of its 2016 Research Funding initiative, made possible by the establishment of the Society’s Harry & Grace Smith fund. Out of the numerous excellent applications received during this inaugural funding competition, the committee has decided to make seven awards of a Hakluyt Society Research Grant or a Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowship.
The work is geared toward the completion of an online database of early modern discussions of the art of travel (the ars apodemica). Prior work by Carey and Gelléri has: significantly increased the number of known texts of this type as compared to existing bibliographies; developed a descriptive methodology; and created the foundation for various visualizations that will benefit users of the database. Scholars of early modern travel have recognized the importance of attempts to reform and direct the practice of travel. The sheer scale of contributions to this debate, between c.1575–c.1850, in the form of essays, letters, treatises, and disputations, has not been appreciated. Many hundreds of such works appeared across Europe (including previously unknown contributions from Sweden, Poland, Hungary as well as England, France, Germany, Italy and the Low Countries). They established conventions for Continental travel and more distant journeys with widespread influence. The database will allow academic and wider public access to this rich material.
– Dr Cheryl Fury (University of New Brunswick, Saint John) – The Human Dimension of the Early Voyages of the English East India Company
The project centres upon the less affluent members of the English maritime community. The focus of the work is upon the men of the East India Company and their struggles to establish a toe-hold for English trade in Asia. There are very few works that deal with the early EIC voyages in detail. This project examines the official accounts in conjunction with shipboard wills which provide a different viewpoint. The work extends from current research on the EIC. Here, my concern is with matters of health care and shipboard disturbances (1610–1620). Eventually, this research will culminate in a book on the first 20 years of the East India Company.
– Dr Maura Hanrahan (Memorial University, Newfoundland) – Transcribing and Contextualizing the Diary of Bjarne Mamen of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, 1913–1914
Bjarne Mamen was the twenty-two year assistant topographer with the northern party of the doomed 1913–1914 Canadian Arctic Expedition (CAE). Mamen’s unpublished diary begins on 28 July 1913 and ends on 22 May 1914. Mamen’s diary allows for a reconstruction of the Karluk voyage, drift and sinking, followed by the survivors’ long wait for rescue on Wrangel Island. It provides us with the intimate perspective of a young polar explorer who is keenly aware of the grave danger he faces. Besides weather observations, shipboard activities, and meals, Mamen writes of the sometimes fraught relations between expedition members, his hopes for his time in the Arctic, and, as time passes, his ailments and fears. Mamen died in a windblown tent on Wrangel Island three months before rescue came. The last words entered in the diary are ‘I for my part cannot stand staying here’.
– Stephanie Mawson (PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge) – Slavery, Trade and Witchcraft in the Seventeenth-Century Spanish Pacific
The work is towards a PhD thesis on the social history of empire in the seventeenth-century Philippines, looking at the topics of slavery, trade and witchcraft. The research highlights the tenuous nature of empire and reveals the Philippines as a site of ongoing contestation between the Spanish and Southeast Asians. The history of this extraordinary archipelago brings together Spanish merchants and royal officials, indigenous Filipinos, Mexican convicts, Chinese merchants, Islamic pirates, religious missionaries, representatives of the Dutch, Portuguese and British empires and a multiethnic, itinerant maritime labour force. All of these people interacted within the culturally diverse, yet politically integrated context of Maritime Southeast Asia. The current historiography of the Spanish presence in the Philippines largely ignores this regional context, choosing instead to focus narrowly on the questions of how and why the Spanish were able to bring the people of the Philippines under imperial control. This work is geared towards turning these questions on their head, and to ask how regional and local social relations constrained, conflicted with, and ultimately shaped, the Spanish project of empire within the Philippines.
– María Gracia Ríos (PhD candidate, Yale University) – Claiming Sovereignty: Sir Francis Drake and the Just Titles of Spain to the Indies
In the late sixteenth century, Sir Francis Drake constituted a persistent threat for the Spanish empire. In this project, I argue that Drake’s attacks on Spanish America led to a reconstruction of the history of the discovery and conquest of America in both Spanish and English writings of his time. I seek to comprehend how, as a result of Drake’s circumnavigation voyage, both Spanish and English authors claimed sovereignty and possession of the New World using the same rhetorical tools and expressing the same demands for implementing an overseas empire. By illustrating the literary interconnections between these nations, the research aims to move beyond the specificity of monolingual and mono-disciplinary perspectives that have characterized studies on New World colonization, and to contribute to scholarship on the ways in which ideas and people circulated across the formal boundaries of empires and nations in the early modern Atlantic world.
– Dr Sarah Thomas (Birkbeck, University of London) – The Art of Travel in the Name of Science
This research explores the salience of mobility to an understanding of visual culture in the colonial period, focusing in particular on the works of art produced on board
Matthew Flinders’ inaugural circumnavigation of Australia between 1801 and 1803 by British landscape painter William Westall (1781–1850), and Austrian botanical artist, Ferdinand Bauer (1760–1826). Mobility was a strategic advantage for such artists in providing new material to record both for Enlightenment science and a broader European public, yet it also presented logistical, aesthetic and philosophical challenges. The work not only considers the status of the peripatetic artist as ‘eyewitness’ in this period, but also examines the mobility of visual culture itself, and the implications that this has for art history in a globalised world.
Winner Hakluyt Society Short-Term Fellowship 2016
– Katherine Parker (PhD candidate, University of Pittsburgh) – Studies in the Reception and Dissemination of the Anson Expedition
Anson’s circumnavigation and his capture of a Spanish treasure galleon in 1740–44 caused a sensation from London to Lima to Manila, while the publication of print materials spread the story almost as widely as Anson had sailed. Despite the importance of the Anson expedition to eighteenth-century peoples, it has received relatively little modern scholarly attention – due, in part, to the field of Pacific exploration’s overwhelming focus on the voyages of the later eighteenth century, particularly those of James Cook. This research project considers the ways in which the Anson expedition and the publications surrounding it were central to the development of the Royal Navy, Pacific exploration, and print culture. The Anson expedition and associated publications helped re-write the modern globe as Europeans knew it.
The Hakluyt Society wishes the awardees good fortune in their research and is looking forward to see these fascinating projects come to fruition. For more information about the competition and to keep posted about the 2017 round of HS Funding (deadline February 2017), see www.hakluyt.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. The Hakluyt Society Research Funding competition is open to anyone whose research interests meet with and promote the Society’s objectives. All applicants must be members of the Hakluyt Society.
Paul Sivitz (Idaho State University), ‘Ship Captains and Science: Linking Physical and Virtual Mobilities in the Eighteenth Century’
Natalie Cox (University of Warwick) and Steven Gray (University of Portsmouth), ‘Tales from the “Happy Ships” of Empire: The Westminster Press ‘Log Series’ and the emergence of Naval travel writing, 1883-1910’
Lena Moser (University of Tuebingen), ‘“Totally unfit for an English Naval Officer”: The travels and career of Friedrich Lappenberg of Bremen, Master RN’
Donald Laskey (Central Michigan State University), ‘Joshua Slocum and the Nineteenth Century Planetary Performers’
1.00-3.00 Panel 2: Cultural Exchange
Chair: Jenny Balfour-Paul
Nigel Rigby (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich), ‘Exhibiting Captain Cook at the National Maritime Museum, 1937-2018’.
Ryan Holroyd (Pennsylvania State University), ‘Responsibility, Red Tape, & Wretchedness: The English East India Company’s Disappointment in the Chinese Port of Xiamen, 1684 – 1720’
Tika Ramadhini (Leiden University), ‘The Arabs in the Lesser Sunda Islands: Cultural Brokers from a Diaspora in the Late 19th Century’
Paul Hughes, ‘Restoration: Portrait of a Seventeenth Century Navigator’
3.30-5.30 Panel 3: Empires
Chair: Guido van Meersbergen
Noelle Nadiah Richardson (European University Institute), ‘Abandoned Backwater? Revisiting Goa and Global Trade in the Eighteenth Century’
Nida Nebahat Nalçacı (Istanbul University), ‘Dissolution of Ottoman Diplomatic Arrogance: The Case of POWs in Ottoman Istanbul’
Chris Petrakos (University of Toronto Mississauga), The Yukon Commissioner’s British Tour: The Atlantic and the Making of the Canadian West, 1897-1900
Guy Collender (Birkbeck, University of London), Strikes and solidarity: Parallels between dockers’ unions in Great Britain and Australia in the late 19th century
6.00 p.m. Reception – Blaydes House
7.00 p.m. Keynote Lecture at WISE – David Richardson (WISE, University of Hull), ‘Inside out: Technological and cultural change in shaping Atlantic history, 1650-1860’
Evening: Free time for delegates
Saturday 14 November
10.00-12.00: Panel 4 – Slavery
Chair: David Richardson
Lauren Bell (University of Hull), ‘Captive passengers: Connecting the slave trade and convict transportation through cultural encounters and voyages of exploration’
Kimberly Monk (University of Bristol), ‘“A Most Valuable Cargo”: The Design and Development of the West Indiaman, 1773-1843’
Jamie Goodall (Stevenson University), ‘Tippling Houses, Rum Shops, & Taverns: How Alcohol Fueled Informal Commercial Networks and Knowledge Exchange in the West Indies’
Molly Corlett (University of Oxford), ‘Transatlantic Blackness in Eighteenth-Century England’
1.00 – 2.30 Panel 5 – Knowledge Construction, Survey and Hydrography in West Africa
Chair: Nicholas J. Evans
Suzanne Schwarz (University of Worcester), ‘“A Just and Honourable Commerce”: Abolitionist Experimentation in Sierra Leone in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries’
Michael Barritt (President of the Hakluyt Society), ‘“A proper person to succeed Mr Dalrymple”: Captain Edward Henry Columbine and hydrographic data-gathering by the Royal Navy in the Great War 1795-1815’
Silke Strickrodt (Centre of Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin), ‘Cartography in the Service of Abolitionism: The Royal Navy’s Surveys of the West African Coast in the Nineteenth Century’
3.00-4.30 Panel 6 – Sierra Leone
Chair: Suzanne Schwarz
Mary Wills (WISE, University of Hull), ‘Cultural encounters between West Africans and Royal Navy officers of the 19th century anti-slavery squadron’
Erika Melek Delgado (University of Worcester), ‘Liberated African Children: Recaptives in the Crown Colony of Sierra Leone, c. 1808-1819’
Nicholas J. Evans (WISE, University of Hull) – ‘Jewish Traders on the West Coast of Africa’
Getting to the conference venue
The conference will be held at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), Oriel Chambers, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE, United Kingdom.
Hull has good transport links to the major cities of England. The city is located 200 miles from London, 100 miles from Manchester and around an hour’s drive from Leeds and York. It has easy access to several airports including Humberside, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, and Teesside. P&O Ferries also offers daily overnight services to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge from Hull’s own port. Hull is served by rail and bus at the Paragon Interchange, which is a 15 minute walk from the conference venue. National Express coaches, local buses and taxis depart at the Paragon Interchange.
Please find below a non-comprehensive selection of nearby hotels to aid your booking process
Registration is free for new and existing Hakluyt Society members and £30 to non-members. To order your ticket simply click here and fill in the online registration form. You can join the Hakluyt Society as a new member online at www.hakluyt.com. Please be advised that advance registration will close on 7 November 2015.
If you have any questions regarding this event, please contact the conference administrator, Dr. Guido van Meersbergen, at firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2014 Australia commemorated the bicentenary of the death of Captain Matthew Flinders, the Royal Navy Captain who charted much of the coastline of the continent. The Hakluyt Society is proud to have played a part in the festivities. It was particularly fitting that the current President of the Society, Captain Mike Barritt, a former Hydrographer of the Navy, was able to join in a programme of events planned by Dr Martin Woods and other fellow members. The focus was the Society’s forthcoming scholarly edition of Flinders’ journals from the circumnavigation in HMS Investigator, and Captain Barritt was accompanied by the editor, Professor Kenneth Morgan. In this post, the President relates his experiences.
One aim of his travel was to draw together existing members of the Society. In Canberra, Dr Woods convened a happy gathering including Frank Wheatley and his wife Barbara who had travelled all the way from West Australia.
After discussions with the President, the group viewed some of the library’s treasures, carefully chosen by Dr Woods for their relevance to the work of Matthew Flinders. Afterwards the members were joined by an enthusiastic audience for the lectures.
The success of this launch event was matched by the experience of Captain Barritt and Professor Morgan in a special session in the Fridays at the Library programme run jointly by Flinders University and the Friends of the State Library of South Australia in Adelaide, and finally an evening presentation in the State Library of New South Wales. Through these events Captain Barritt had the opportunity to meet many long-standing members, some others now returning to the fold, and some new recruits.
The programme matched his desire to engage with the Hakluyt Society community that ‘compasses the Vaste Globe’ and to promote events further afield than London.
In his own presentation, Captain Barritt introduced Australia Circumnavigated: The Voyage of Matthew Flinders in HMS Investigator, 1801-1803, placing it in the context of the Society’s history of publications of accounts of travel and exploration in the region. He noted, however, that the edition departed from precedent in the amount of navigational detail that had been retained and reproduced both in the journal itself and in the accompanying memoir explaining the construction of Flinders’ charts. Speaking as a practitioner, and quoting from the memoir, he argued that this evidence of meticulous practice was essential to bring out the under-tone running through Matthew Flinders’ writings. He was acutely aware that he was walking in big foot-prints, especially those of the already legendary James Cook.
Although the argument and supporting tables in this edition may only be examined in detail by specialists, they illustrate the concerns driving Flinders: ‘I hope to escape the censure of those who may think that our investigation has not been sufficiently minute’. Captain Barritt explained that as a consequence of the decision to include this level of detail, the edition has set challenges at every stage of editing, type-setting and proofreading. The interest in the proof copies made available for inspection at the events in Australia indicates that the volumes will be in demand by both academic and general readers*.
*Distribution to members of the Society took place during the Summer of 2015.