Sir Joseph Banks, Iceland and the North Atlantic 1772-1820: Journals, Letters and Documents

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.

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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.

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820). Source:

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Winners of 2016 Hakluyt Society Research Grants Announced

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.

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Winners Hakluyt Society Research Grant 2016

Professor Daniel Carey (University of Galway) and Dr Gabor Gelléri (University of Aberystwyth) – Ars Apodemica Online – an online database of the arts of travel

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 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.

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Programme: The Hakluyt Society Conference, Hull, 13-14 November

The Hakluyt Society Conference:

Maritime Trade, Travel and Cultural Encounter in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’

Location: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull. HU1 1NE

Friday 13 November – Saturday 14 November 2015

** Registration is free for Hakluyt Society members and £30 to non-members **

Order your tickets here

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The Hakluyt Society Conference programme

Friday 13 November 2015

9.15 Registration and Coffee

9.45 Welcome (President of the Hakluyt Society)

10.00-12.00 Panel 1: Travel Accounts and Logbooks

Chair: Nigel Rigby

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’

12.00-1.00 Lunch

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’

3.00-3.30 Tea/Coffee

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

9.30 Coffee

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’

12.00-1.00 Lunch

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’

2.30-3.00 Coffee

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’


Free Town, Sierra Leone. From: Thomas Eyre Poole, 'Life, Scenery, and Customs in Sierra Leone and the Gambia' (London: 1850). Courtesy of the British Library.
Free Town, Sierra Leone. From: Thomas Eyre Poole, ‘Life, Scenery, and Customs in Sierra Leone and the Gambia’ (London: 1850). Courtesy of the British Library.


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 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

The Hakluyt Society and WISE look forward to welcoming you in Hull

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Saluting Captain Matthew Flinders

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.

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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.

Flinders Australia meeting
The President meets with Australian members

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.

Saluting Flinders
Captain Mike Barritt salutes his hydrographic predecessor

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*.

Flinders hydro 1
Chart from “Australia Circumnavigated”

*Distribution to members of the Society  took place during the Summer of 2015.

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Regional Guides to Books Published by The Hakluyt Society

The Hakluyt Society’s latest initiative consists of making available regional guides to assist readers in navigating its list of publications. Easy to use, written by experts, and free to download at, the Regional Guides to Books Published by the Hakluyt Society promise to become an indispensable tool for researchers. In this post, the Hakluyt Society’s editor of online publications, Ray Howgego, reflects on the process of making the regional guides.

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Now entering its 170th year and with around 335 volumes under its belt, the Hakluyt Society established long ago a reputation for publications of exceptional scholarship. Unlike many other societies of its genre which started life in Victorian London, the Society succeeded in retaining its identity into the 21st century and continues to thrive through the efforts of a small but dedicated team of officers and editors.books Its volumes, often drawn from forgotten manuscripts languishing deep in the archives, frequently represent the only accessible source of information on the material they describe, and it is beyond doubt that our awareness of the history of travel and exploration would be very much diminished had it not been for the efforts of the Society.

A complete list of Hakluyt Society publications can be found on the Society’s website, and (up to 1995) in the book Compassing the Vaste Globe of the Earth, edited by R. C. Bridges and P. E. H. Hair. However, the brief résumés given in these resources, often amounting to just a single sentence, meant that navigating the vast wealth of information contained in these volumes is often overwhelming. In view of this, the late Dr Bernard Stonehouse suggested that, as an aid to researchers, the Society should introduce a series of study guides for free public download, each of which covering a particular geographical region. These would be written voluntarily by specialists in the field and would provide a detailed synopsis of each volume together with background information. If needed, a critical appraisal of the book in the light of modern scholarship should be included, as it must be acknowledged that some of the Society’s early translations were rapidly turned out by over-ambitious editors with insufficient regard to accuracy and style.

Dr Stonehouse’s suggestion was heartily endorsed by Council, and willing volunteers were eagerly sought. Hakluyt booksThe major challenge is one of overlap, particularly with regard to voyagers who passed through multiple regions. In such circumstances it was decided that authors should focus on the traveller’s contribution to knowledge of the region concerned. So far, three guides, covering South America, the Arctic, and the Southern Voyages and the Antarctic, have been completed and are available on the Society’s website, while guides to Africa and India are currently in preparation. Although differing in emphasis and content, and bearing the personal stamp of the author, they have been typographically edited to ensure uniformity of lay-out.

There is no doubt that our authors have enjoyed writing these guides, and it is hoped that you will gain equal satisfaction from reading them. Authors for the remaining guides, who may be any members of the Society with specialist knowledge, will be warmly welcomed.

Ray Howgego is a traveller and writer who has followed explorers’ tracks through many parts of the world. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, his books include The Book of Exploration; a biography of the traveller Gertrude Benham; the five-volume reference Encyclopedia of Exploration; the Historical Encyclopedia of Atlantic Vigias; and (as editor) the Illustrated Atlas of Exploration. He is an officer of the Hakluyt Society and editor of the Society’s Journal.

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On Hakluyt business: Sarah Tyacke in California

The Hakluyt Society’s recent publication of Russian California, 1806-1860: A History in Documents was celebrated with a symposium held at the University of Notre Dame campus in London on 15 July 2014. Transcripts of the talks delivered by Professor emeritus James Gibson (York University, Toronto) and Prof. Janet Hartley (LSE) can be found here. Earlier this year, past president of the Hakluyt Society Dr. Sarah Tyacke gave a talk to promote Russian California at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. She wrote the following post:

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On a research visit to the Huntington Library, past president Sarah Tyacke met professor emeritus (UCLA) Norman Thrower now aged 96 at his home in Pacific Palisades. He is a long time member of the Society and of the American Friends of the Hakluyt Society, and was the editor of The Three Voyages of Edmond Halley in the Paramore, 1698-1701 published in 1981. He is in good health and remembers his editorship of the Hakluyt Society volumes with some pride.

Darmstadt Seot13, HampsteadHeath March Flo March,Pasadena May14, 042
Sarah Tyacke visiting professor emeritus Norman Thrower

Also at the Huntington Library, Sarah gave a short talk on the history of the Society based closely on the work of Roy Bridges and Paul Hair, also past presidents, and promoted James Gibson‘s and Alexei Istomin‘s Russian California, 1806- 60. She was very pleased to meet some members of the Society as well as a number of graduate students researching at the Library, and gave them Hakluyt Society President Michael Barritt‘s greetings.

It was especially pleasing to meet professor emeritus Stanley M. Burstein (California State) who edited Agatharchides of Cnidus, On the Erythraean Sea in 1989 for which she had been the series editor.

Find out about this fascinating account concerning the second century BC Ptolemaic explorer of the Red Sea here. For a full bibliography of Hakluyt Society publications, or to become a member, visit

Darmstadt Seot13, HampsteadHeath March Flo March,Pasadena May14, 062Sarah Tyacke is past president and current vice-president of the Hakluyt Society. She has a long and distinguished career in academic scholarship and archive management. She was Keeper of Public Records and Historical Manuscripts Commissioner for the United Kingdom government and Chief Executive of the National Archives of England and Wales from 1992-2005. She continues to publish on the history of cartography.

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