Posts Tagged ‘captain cook’

COOK – HARRISON – GREEN: THREE YORKSHIRE MEN WALKED INTO A BAR

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

 

 

‘He [John Harrison] wrested the world’s whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket watch’. Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, London, 1998

Harrison H-4 Chronometer

Since earliest times sea-faring nations England, Portugal, France, Spain and the Netherlands vied with each other to solve – the Holy Grail of Navigation – longitude – calculating with precision a ship’s position while at sea beyond sight of land.

1714  – Westminster: Legislation, The Act of Longitude 1714, followed an enquiry into England’s first recorded 18th century maritime disaster.

In 1707 off the Cornish coast in heavy weather six (6) of Admiral Clowdisley Shovell’s ships lost their bearings and were dashed to pieces against the Scilly Isles with the loss of 1500 lives.

As a consequence in 1714 The Board of Longitude was established to invite and evaluate submissions and award a prize of £20,000 to whom-so-ever solved the problem of determining longitude at sea.

A king’s ransom reckoned now more than £400,000,000 did much to delay recognition of the solution; ‘the perfect time-keeper…a pocket- watch’. A delay that cost countless lives.

‘The Board of Longitude was top-heavy with astronomers, mathematicians and navigators’. Sobel. ibid

To the detriment of the world’s seafarers the contest developed into a naked grab for cash. There were only two (2) viable contenders for the Longitude Prize.

Astronomer Royal Rev. Nevil Maskelyne’s Nautical Almanac – Luna Tables  and Star Cataglog –  favoured by a succession of Astronomer Royals and John Harrison a Yorkshire carpenter with his invention a sea-going  pocket-watch’. See: Lotto and Longitude

‘[Harrison] made a special enemy of the Reverend Nevil Maskelyne the fifth astronomer royal, who contested his claim to the [Longitude] prize money and whose tactics at certain junctions can only be described as foul-play’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

A succession of Astronomer Royals, understandably Rev. John Flamsteed the first appointed in 1676 whose Luna Tables were his life’s work; followed by Edmond Halley, James Bradley, Nathaniel Bliss and the fifth appointee Nevil Maskelyne all remained wedded to Luna Tables.

‘The [1765] Almanac represents Maskelyne’s enduring contribution to navigation – and the perfect task for him too, as it embodied an abundance of excruciating detail’. Sobel. ibid.

But well before 1765 and Maskelyne’s Almanac – time – the essential ingredient for solving the problem of longitude had been conquered.

Earlier 1736-7 in HMS Centurian John Harrison took H-1 on a supervised time-trial voyage London to Lisbon. It performed within the guidelines required by  the Board.

‘…a banner week for Harrison, because on the 30th [June 1737] the commissioners of the Board of Longitude convened for the very first time – twenty-three years after the board was created – citing his marvellous machine as the occasion’. Sobel. ibid.

However the might of one commissioner, Astronomer Royal Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, was brought to bear on Harrison personally and against his ‘never failing guide’ the marine chronometer.

In 1765 ‘shortly before Cook sailed [for Tahiti]’ Maskelyne published his Nautical Almanac. See: Moon Versus Machine

So when in 1769 Yorkshire-man Lieutenant James Cook RN, after observing the Transit of Venus at Tahiti sailed, in accordance with ‘Secret Admiralty Instructions’ to search for the fabled Great South Land, he had with him Maskelyne’s ‘tedious’ celestial Almanac but not Harrison’s ‘never-failing pocket-watch’. See: Captain Cook Caught Short

‘[It] was bolted to a window-seat at the Observatory’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

Cook did however have the invaluable service of Charles Green a fellow Yorkshire-man. Green, an accomplished astronomer, had served as official Assistant to two (2) Astronomer Royals. Firstly under James BradIey who succeeded on the death of Edmond Halley in 1742.

Bradley held the post for twenty (20) years until his death in 1762. Nathaniel Bliss followed Bradley in 1762 but ill-health marked his short tenure. Bliss did not take up residence at Greenwich he remained at Oxford University where he died in 1764.

During the hiatus 1762-65 Charles Green acted as surrogate Astronomer Royal. In 1764 with Bliss too ill to travel, acting as official representative of the Board of Longitude, Green had travelled to Barbados with Maskelyne to assess the accuracy of John Harrison’s ‘watch’.

While Green found that it satisfied all that was required Maskelyne took the opposing view. See: The Third Man – Charles Green

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, London, 2016

At the beginning of 1765 King George III announced Maskelyne ‘s appointment as Britain’s fifth Astronomer Royal. Green logged his final Observations on 15 March 1765 and left the Observatory soon afterwards.

Nevil Maskelyne, after negotiating a more than satisfactory salary, assumed his active role in mid March 1765 and held the position until his death in 1811.

‘At the heart of Dava Sobel’s fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and horology stands the figure of John Harrison and his forty-year obsession with building the perfect timekeeper’. Sobel, Longitude, Cited Cover Paperback Edition

See: Lieutenant William Dawes & ‘The Eternal Flame’

CAPTAIN COOK CAUGHT SHORT 

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

The Royal Society had accepted the recommendation of the Astronomer [Royal ] that [Dalrymple] the well-known hydrographer of the Pacific should be chosen as ‘a proper Person to be sent to the South Seas’. H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1968

The Admiralty however would have none of Alexander Dalrymple a Fellow of the Royal Society who Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, Britain’s Astronomer Royal, adjudged ‘a proper Person to be sent to the South Seas’.

Instead Admiralty chose James Cook a lowly Warrant Officer of the Royal Navy to replace Dalrymple as Chief Observer of the Transit of Venus at Tahiti an event predicted to occur in early June 1769. See: Malicious Maskelyne 

‘[Cook] Whose remarkable qualities as a seaman and as a navigator and cartographer the Admiralty had learned to value because of his outstanding service in the operation under [General] Wolfe in Canada [Seven Years War 1756-1763]. Cameron. ibid. 

1728: James Cook was born on 27 October 1728 in Marston, Yorkshire. Vanessa Collingridge author of Captain Cook The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer, Random House, 2003 says he spent most of his childhood; ‘in the lee of the largest peak in Yorkshire’s North Riding’.

1747: Cook left school in 1747 to begin work as deckhand on a Whitby barque bringing coal from Newcastle to Hull and London.

1752: Working steadily through the ranks by 1752 Cook was Mate of a collier Friendship.

1755: War with France was looming when in 1755 James enlisted an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy where his experience made for steady progression.

1756: The Seven Year’s War (1756-1763), broke out in the mid 1750s with Britain, Prussia and Hanover on one side against France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden and Spain.

1757 – June: After passing his sailing master’s examination at Trinity House in mid 1757 Cook joined as crew on HMS Eagle .

1757 October: In October Cook, then aged 29, was posted to HMS Pembroke a sixty-four (64) gun fighting ship.

1757: In late 1757 England’s Prime Minister William Pitt [Elder] ‘gained control of the [war] strategy’ expanded the struggle with France away from the Continent  with the intention of seizing French colonies in North America and India.

Military historians classify The Seven Years’ War 1756-1763 as the world’s first truly global war. After a few years of uneasy peace it morphed into a cascade of conflict that included yet another Anglo-Dutch war, war with Spain and in 1775 the American Revolution.

The War of American Independence 1775-1783 – invasion of New Holland 1788 with an eye to India, China, the Phillipines and Spain’s South American colonies, established Britain’s supremacy over the Indian, Pacific and Southern oceans.

1793-1815 French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars ended in Belgium with England’s Duke of Wellington’s defeat of France’s Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in 1815.

THE BACK STORY

1758 : Seven Years War: Cook on HMS Pembroke, sailed for Canada under command of Captain John Simcoe RN, as part of General Amherst’s expeditionary force intent on capturing Louisbourg from the French. 

Named for King Louis XIV the city was founded in 1713. As well as being a busy centre for fishing, fur trading and ship-building, Louisbourg was of immense strategic importance to France.

Its port supported a substantial French naval presence guarding Quebec and Montreal. According to Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War, the French squadron consisted of ‘eleven (11) ships including five (5) of the line’.

Pembroke delivered her troops but was so severely damaged en-route by heavy weather she took no part in the battle for Louisbourg.

1758 – 26 July:  After a siege of five (5) weeks Louisbourg fell to the British leaving Montreal and Quebec exposed to invasion.

‘Cook first learned from a British army officer [Holland] how to make maps they would become Cook’s fascination, as he mastered the technique of translating the three dimensions of landmarks, shores, rocks, and shoals precisely and exactly onto two dimensional charts’. Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2004

HMS Pembroke underwent repairs during the lay period James Cook met Lieutenant Samuel Holland. A Dutchman Holland served as engineer and surveyor on General James Wolfe’s staff.

After Louisbourg, his [Cook’s] meticulous correcting of existing charts of the St. Lawrence River, and creation of new ones where none existed saved Saunders and Wolfe’s expedition to [capture] Quebec, and won him the reputation as one of the navy’s finest navigators’. Herman. ibid.

It is said ‘maps are power’. James Cook and Samuel Holland sealed the fate of a free people – New Holland’s First Nations’ Peoples. See: A Tale of Two Cities, Quebec 1759 – Sydney 1788

‘Unwittingly Cook had stumbled into one of the great periods of change in naval history; the rise of scientific navigation’. A.W. Beazley, Fellowship of Three. The Surgeon John Hunter, The Navigator James Cook, The Naturalist Joseph Banks, Kangaroo Press, Sydney 1993

1660 – England: A century earlier – 1660 –  Heir Apparent Prince Charles returned home  from exile on the Continent, France and the Netherlands, where he had fled following the beheading of his father – King Charles the First in 1649 on the orders of Oliver Cromwell.

1660 – May, London:  In Westminster Abbey, amidst cheering crowds with much pomp and ceremony, Charles was crowned King Charles II.

1675: Charles desired England take the lead in the ‘rise of scientific navigation’ and to that end commissioned Sir Christopher Wren build an Observatory.

[To] rectify the Tables of the Motion of the Heavens, and the Place of the fixed Stars, so as to find out the so-much desired Longitude at sea for the Art of Navigation’.  Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, London, 1998

The site Wren chose was Greenwich Castle destroyed by Cromwell’s Model Army during the Protectorate Interregnum. Just one (1) year after work began, using the castle’s surviving foundations, Greenwich Observatory was up and running with Rev. John Flamsteed appointed Britain’s first Astronomer Royal.

So began a century of great scientific advancement. But in the world of astronomy it was also a toxic century defined by trickery, deception, skulduggery and the reason why, a century later – 1769 – Cook sailed HMS Endeavour to Tahiti and into the South Seas in search of the fabled Great South Land without a Harrison chronometer. See: Cook, Harrison, Green – Three Yorkshire Men Walked Into A Bar – Nevil Maskelyne

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, London, 2016

A sound knowledge of time is necessary to determine longitude while a ship was at sea. Dava Sobel put Harrison’s achievement with the H-4 eloquently; ‘He, wrested the world’s whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket watch’.

‘What Endeavour (1769) lacked was a convenient means of establishing her position at least so far as longitude was concerned…what he [Cook] did have was….[Maskelyne’s] Nautical Almanac which facilitated the tedious method of establishing longitude by the observation of the ‘lunars’. A.W.  Beasley. ibid.  

Longitude:  A starless night on a pitching weather deck with a telescope pressed to one eye and emphasis must be placed on comparing ‘convenient’ with ‘tedious‘.

Harrison’s pocket-watch’ had conquered time-keeping it would have given Cook ‘a convenient means of establishing longitude’.

‘Shortly before Cook sailed Maskelyne published the Nautical Almanac’. Lyn Withey, Voyages of Discovery, Captain Cook and the Explorations of the Pacific, Century Hutchinson, Melbourne, 1987

What HMS Endeavour and Cook, its captain and navigator did have, were the services of Charles Green selected by the Royal Society to replace Alexander Dalrymple as Assistant Observer for the Transit of Venus at Tahiti in June 1769.

Green had served as Chief Assistant under two (2) Astronomer Royals. Firstly in 1742 under Rev. James Bradley on his elevation to the post following the death of Edmond Halley.

In 1762 Rev. Nathaniel Bliss succeeded Bradley but due to ill health, though he visited Greenwich, did not take up residence. Bliss remained in Oxford and died there in 1764.

During Bliss’s short two (2) year tenure Charles Green functioned as surrogate Astronomer Royal. He left the Observatory soon after Rev. Nevil Maskelyne was appointed in March 1765. See: The Third Man – Charles Green

EPILOGUE

‘That the fighting against France in what was originally and essentially a European war should have spread so swiftly to the tropics was a result of many factors, most of them predicable’. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, Fontana Press, 3rd Ed. London, 1976

The invasion of New Holland, now Australia, followed on quickly from America’s War of Independence 1775-1783 and Britain’s loss of her ‘Empire in the West’ the thirteen (13) ‘middle colonies’ – New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Carolina North and South, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island.

1786 – August, Westminster: In order to establish a ‘second British Empire’ under the administration of the Younger William Pitt (1783-1801) Britain took pre-emptive steps to secure alternate sea-routes to and from India, Asia and Spain’s rich South American colonies via the Southern Oceans.

‘New Holland is a good blind then when we want to add to the military strength of India’. Anon, Historical Records of New South Wales’.

Britain’s humiliating defeat in the American war was due in large part to French money, men and munitions. New Holland was partly to revenge lost ‘bases and colonies’.

‘The administration of the 24-year-old Prime Minister William Pitt was under no illusion about the pretensions of its enemies. In early October 1784, Lord Carmarthen, the Foreign Secretary, stressed the necessity of knowing the extent of the proposed French and Dutch forces in India.

The information was essential, he added, ‘in order that we may ascertain the number of ships to be employed by us in that quarter of the world’. Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary Governor Spy, Hardie Grant Books, 2013

1787 – 25 April, London: King George III confirmed the invasion of New Holland.

‘Parallel to, and dependent upon, the Anglo-French duel for command of the sea went their struggle for overseas bases and colonies; here too, the culminating point in a century-long race was reached, with Britain emerging in 1815 with a position so strengthened that she appeared to be the only real colonial power in the world’. Kennedy. ibid.

1815:  Britain, with the French ‘pretensions‘ out of the equation, turned rapacious eyes on India as Jewel in the Crown’ of Britain’s second Empire.

 

 

 

 

 

THE THIRD MAN – CHARLES GREEN

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

‘The grim roll-call broke his [Cook’s) heart…the death of the astronomer Charles Green marked a wave of those who ‘departed this life’….By the end of January [1771] they had barely enough men to man the ship [HMS Endeavour]’. Vanesssa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer, Ebury Press, 2002

Charles Green son of ‘a prosperous’ free-hold Yorkshire farmer born in Swinton towards the end of 1734 received a broad education with a strong emphasis on science.

John his elder brother took Holy Orders and established a school in Soho, London where Charles found his ‘heavenly passion’ astronomy. After graduating he stayed on for a time teaching mathematics.

In 1760 Charles Green applied successfully for the position of Assistant Astronomer at Greenwich Observatory going on to serve as Chief Assistant to three (3) Astronomer Royals, James Bradley, Nathenial Bliss and briefly Nevil Maskelyne.

In 1675 King Charles II engaged Sir Christopher Wren to design a National Observatory. Wren considereid the ruins of Greenwich Castle a perfect site. Although Oliver Cromwell’s Roundhead Model Army had destroyed its buildings during The Protectorate Interregnum (1653-59) the foundation were intact.

In 1676, Rev. John Flamsteed, England’s inaugural Astronomer Royal, took up residence in the newly minted Observatory and remained in the role until his death in 1720.

Edmond Halley of comet fame succeeded Flamsteed and held the post for twenty-two (22) years until his death in 1742.

Rev. James Bradley followed Halley. His tenure too was lengthy 1742-1762. Bradley is celebrated principally for his work on the speed of light. In 1728 he estimated light moved at the speed of 295,000 km (183,000 miles) per second. Three (3) centuries later Bradley’s calculations were amended to 299,790 km (186,290 miles) per second

‘John Harrison, the man who solved the problem of longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, London, 2016

Had Bradley stuck to light and left longitude to Mr. John Harrison inventor of an accurate marine chronometer – a sea-going ‘pocket-watch’ – many a sea-farer would not have met a watery end.

In 1762 James Bradley died and Rev. Nathaniel Bliss succeeded but owing to ill-health Bliss did not take up residence at Greenwich. He remained in Oxford and died there in September 1764.

In Bliss’ absence Charles Green faithfully fulfilled the onerous role of principal astronomer at the Observatory and, for more than six (6) months following Bliss’ death.

On 8 February 1765 King George III appointed Reverend Nevil Maskelyne Britain’s fifth Astronomer Royal. Maskelyne held the position in a strangle-hold for just on half a century, until his death in 1811. See: Malicious Maskelyne

 LONGITUDE – THE BACK STORY

‘On the day before reliable time-keeping, the skies were used as a giant clock’. Collingridge. ibid. Random House, 2003

John Flamsteed, James Bradley, Nathaniel Bliss and Nevil Maskelyne, consecrated men of the Church had a lot in common, all were wedded to old technology the lunars’.

Luna Tables and Star Catalog listing three thousand (3000) stars were the work of Rev. John Flamsteed the first Astronomer Royal appointed by King Charles II in 1675.

Why then in 1765, did Nevil Maskelyne publish as the only reliable solution to the problem of longitude, the first edition of his Nautical Almanac , extolling celestial navigation.

‘The Almanac represents Maskelyne’s enduring contribution to navigation – and the perfect task for him, too, as it embodied an abundance of excruciating detail’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

‘Maskelyne’s Method’ of determining longitude depended on measuring with a sextant the angular distance between moon, sun and seven (7) selected stars. On a moonless night on a pitching weather deck ‘much too difficult’ many said ‘for ordinary sailors’.

‘John Harrison, the man who solved the problem of longitude in 1759’. Ackroyd. ibid.

Charles Green walked away from Greenwich Observatory a few weeks after Nevil Maskelyne’s appointment as Astronomer Royal.

Maskelyne and Green had history

‘The board [had] concluded in its final report in August 1762 “the Experiments already made of the Watch have not been sufficient to determine the Longitude at Sea”. H- 4 must needs submit to a new trial, under stricter scrutiny’. Sobel. ibid.

In 1764, with Bliss too ill to travel, Green had been tasked to team up with Maskelyne and sail to Barbados to represent the Board of Longitude and oversee yet another assessment of John Harrison’s H-4 marine chronometer.

Maskelyne and Green were to shadow William, John Harrison’s son and Thomas Wyatt, who were making for Barbados aboard HMS Tartar with his now elderly father’s ‘pocket watch’.

For the Board of Longitude this was to be it – failure or success for H-4. Maskelyne’s Almanac versus John Harrison’s chronometer. The sacred versus the secular and a king’s ransom £20,000, in 2019 roughly £400 millions.

As Dava Sobel says; ‘The Board of Longitude was top-heavy with astronomers’ and, one Nevil Maskelyne was determined to scuttle Harrison and his ‘watch‘ once and for all.

Maskelyne in 1761 had began intensive work on his Nautical Almanac. If Harrison’s invention was discredited, with the Almanac on the cusp of publication, fame and fortune would be his.

To put all doubt to rest Sir John Lindsay, Tartar’s captain, was tasked to supply the required ‘stricter scrutiny’.

When Lindsay and William Harrison with H-4 reached Barbados aboard Tarter  in May 1764 they found Green and Maskelyne, who had sailed to Barbados in the Princess Louise, were already ensconced in the local Observatory.

However for Maskelyne his early arrival proved to be counter-productive. He had aired to anyone who would listen unwavering allegiance to ‘his lunar distance method…boast[ing]’ that, with his soon to be published ‘Nautical Almanac (1767), ‘he was sure he’d clinched the case and secured the prize’. Sobel. ibid.

Sir John Lindsay quietly gathered evidence. The Harrison team supported by Lindsay; ‘challenged Maskelyne’s fitness to judge H-4 impartially [Maskelyne] was outraged by their  accusations…in his disquieted condition, he botched the astronomical observations – even though all those present recalled there wasn’t a cloud in the sky’. Sobel. ibid.

H-4 performed flawlessly. There could be not doubt it would supply accurate time-keeping, the essential ingredient required for determining longitude at sea. Charles Green’s epiphany was complete.

‘The Watch proved to tell the longitude within ten miles – three times more accurately than the terms of the Longitude Act demanded! [however] the Board of Longitude allowed months to pass without saying a word…[finally] they were “unanimously of the opinion that the said time-keeper has kept its time with sufficient correctness”. Sobel .ibid.

From then on it should have been plain sailing for John Harrison and his ‘pocketwatch’ but that was not to be.

1765 – 15 March: Charles Green logged his final official Observations on 15 of March 1765 and left Greenwich not long afterwards. It is reasonable to speculate irreconcilable differences, centred on the H-4,  was responsible for Green’s departure.

1765 – 25 March: Rev. Nevil Maskelyne appointed by King George III in February 1765 assumed the role of Britain’s fifth Astronomer Royal in March 1765. He immediately opened up a second front in the fight against John Harrison and H-4. See: Three Yorkshire-men – James Cook, John Harrison, Charles Green  Walked Into A Bar – Maskelyne

Due in large part to Maskelyne’s obstinate scientific pride and avarice, his long tenure at Greenwich was characterised by the unnecessary loss of thousands upon thousands of Royal Naval men in both offensive and defensive mode, as well as a multitude of merchant seamen who sank without trace along with cargo and booty worth untold billions. See: Lotto and Longitude

‘Shortly before Cook sailed [for Tahiti] Maskelyne published his Nautical Almanac’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

Maskelyne was not yet finished with John Harrison and Charles Green.

‘Compared with that of (Joseph) Banks, Mr Green’s equipment was comparatively modest’. H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1966.

Although Cook was supplied a ‘nautical clock’ it was not Harrison’s H-4 ‘pocket watch’. See: Captain Cook Caught Short

1769: In April 1769 Lieutenant James Cook RN sailed HMS Endeavour from England to Tahiti in order to observe the Transit of Venus. The Transit had been predicted by Edmond Halley of comet fame, to occur on 3 June 1769. Charles Green was engaged of the Royal Society to act as Assistant Observer to Cook.

Having recorded the Transit of Venus at Tahiti Lieutenant Cook RN then opened ‘secret Admiralty Instructions’ ordering him sail deep into the southern oceans in search of the fabled Great South Land.

‘John Harrison had perfected the chronometer some years before but it is the character that authorities who for a great many years had withheld half of the prize for his achievement should also decline to make an instrument available to Cook’. A.W. Beazley, Fellowship of Three – John Hunter Surgeon, James Cook Navigator, Joseph Banks Naturalist, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1987

James Cook had not been Maskeyne first choice to lead the Transit expedition he had recommended Alexander Dalrymple to the Admiralty. A wealthy Fellow of the Royal Society Dalrymple was held by that august body as Cameron has it; ‘a proper person to be sent to the South Seas’.

Dalrymple had never forgiven Cook for replacing him in the command of he expedition….Of the many charges which he made against Cook perhaps the most ridiculous was that the grounding of the Endeavour on the coral reef was due to the Captain’s misconduct in not anchoring’. Cameron. ibid.

And Maskelyne the scientist who persecuted John Harrison the carpenter-artisan ‘had never forgiven’ the Admiralty for choosing lowly James Cook, a mere warrant officer over Dalrymple.

Maskelyne withheld H – 4 from the newly commissioned Lieutenant James Cook RN. It is highly likely if Cook had known with greater certainty HMS Endeavour’s position while in uncharted waters he may not have spent three (3) months getting to New Zealand.

‘The great Captain Cook observed and calculated more than six hundred lunar distances to obtain the longitude of Strip Cove in New Zealand’. Gavin Menzies, 1421, Harper Collins Publishers, London, 2008

Strip Cove: Consider then the time taken to observe and calculate New Zealand’s North and South Islands. Captain Cook did not leave the area until February 1770. In April 1770 HMS Endeavour anchored in Botany Bay.

Time: Although much is rightly made of Cook’s success in warding off scurvy nevertheless, home-ward bound at Batavia, one-half of Endeavour’s starving debilitated crew succumbed to malaria and dysentery.

Of Joseph Banks’ party of ten (10) only four (4) survived including Banks himself. Earlier two (2) were lost when they froze to death on Terra del Fuego. Alexander Buchan an artist died at Tahiti following an epileptic fit.

Charles Green died not long after Endeavour left Batavia for the return to England via Cape Town of what, from his symptoms may not have been drunkenness as an Australian author of a recent ‘Cook’ book so glibly assigns for Green’s bizarre behaviour, but cerebral malaria.

1771 – 13 July – Spithead: Cook, once on home soil began to; ‘write to the families of all those who had died in his care [including] the loved ones of Mr Green [and] George Monkhouse of Cumberland who had entrusted his sons with Cook’. Collingridge. ibid.

William Monkhouse was Endeavour’s surgeon and his brother Jonothan the young sailor who saved Endeavour from complete destruction after she ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef by ‘fothering‘ the ship a tricky manoeuvre Jonothan had picked up on a previous voyage.

EPILOGUE

John Harrison’s marine chronometer H-1 had shown, as early as 1736-37 on a timed voyage London, England to Lisbon, Portugal in HMS Centurian, to be capable of when ships were at sea beyond sight of land, giving accurate time-keeping sufficient to establish longitude.

In 1763 Ferdinand Berthoud the Swiss born clockmaker, whose interests also included the marine chronometer had, at the behest of the French King, visited John Harrison in London.

In early October of 1764 Berthoud took his own chronometer to sea for a timed trial but no results of that trial have been discovered. In 1766 Berthoud tried, again without success, to have Harrison divulge the essential elements of H-4.

However Thomas Mudge a prominent London watchmaker who, from time to time serviced H-4, did discuss its intricacies with Berthoad.

‘As it turned out, Berthoud and the other continental clock-makers did not steal Harrison’s designs in the construction of their own marine timekeepers’. Sobel. ibid.

While it is not known for certain if Antoine de Bougainville, a mathematician of note and member of Britain’s Royal Society, took a chronometer with him on France’s first successful voyage of circumnavigation, November 1766 to March 1769, the intriguing question remains open to speculation.

‘Joseph-Jerome Lalande; self-styled most famous astronomer in the universe…visited the Greenwich Observatory, exchanged pleasantries with King George III and helped smuggle out the first description of Harrison’s famous chronometer designed to determine longitude at sea’. Ken Alder, The Measure of All Things, The Free Press, Simon and Schuster, 2002

POSTSCRIPT

Harrison’s chronometer was useful but not essential in mapping the world’. Gavin Menzies. ibid.

John Harrison’s chronometer was ‘essential’ in saving sailors’ lives and their widows and children grief and destitution.

‘From the publication of Regiomantanus ephemis tables in 1474 Europeans for the first time calculated Latitude and Longitude…Regiomantanus’s tables were improved by Nevil Maskelyne. They were published in 1767 and remained in use by Royal Navy captains and navigators well after Harrison’s chronometer was introduced. Menzies. op.cit.

Not only did English seamen suffer and die due to Maskelyne’s intransigence in sabotaging and actively discouraging the use of Harrison chronometers the damage spread across the maritime world with thousands upon thousands lives lost. See: Malicious Maskelyne

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOON VERSUS MACHINE

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Compared with that of Banks, Mr. Green’s equipment was comparatively modest. On May 5th, 1768, at a meeting of Council of the Royal Society it was resolved that the instruments for the use of the Observers of the South Latitudes be the following:

Two [2] reflecting telescopes of two [2] foot focus…[1] brass Hadley’s sextant, [1] barometer bespoke of Mr Ramsden, [1] Journeyman’s Clock bespoke by Mr Skelton, two [2] Thermometers of Mr Bird, [1] Stand for Bird’s Quadrant, [1] dipping needle bespoke by Mr Ramsden’. H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1966

Mr. Charles Green, former Assistant to James Bradley and Nathaniel Bliss, Astronomer Royals of Greenwich Observatory, was engaged by the Royal Society to represent them and assist Lieutenant James Cook RN observe and record the Transit of Venus due to take place at Tahiti on 3rd June 1769

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Macmillan, London, 2016

Here two (2) of a plethora of questions must be asked. Who was Mr. Green and why was John Harrison’s marine chronometer – H-4 – not among his equipment when he set off aboard HMS Endeavour with Lieutenant James Cook for Tahiti to observe the Transit of Venus? See: Captain Cook, John Harrison, Charles Green – Three Yorkshire Men Walked Into A Bar

‘H-4 [was] bolted to a window seat in the Observatory’. Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, London, 1998

No doubt H-4 sat under the watchful eye of Rev. Nevil Maskelyne. Britain’s fifth Astronomer Royal. Maskelyne elected to that high post on the death of Nathaniel Bliss held a conservative stranglehold over the position from 1765 to 1811.

‘How elaborate his [Joseph Banks] preparations were we may gather from a letter from John Ellis, Fellow Royal Society to Linneaus: ‘No people ever went to sea better fitted out for the purpose of Natural History”. John Ellis, cited H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1966

 The Ellis letter referred to the voyage of HMS Endeavour.

1769 – 3 June, Tahiti: Lieutenant James Cook RN was charged, at the behest of England’s prestigious Royal Society, with conveying Joseph Banks and his party of ten (10) to Tahiti and there observe the Transit of Venus.

‘The Transit was more than just an astronomical curio, it was the key to a wealth of information about the universe, information that would be seized upon by the intensely curious men of science who characterised the age’. Vanessa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer, Random House, London, 2003

While The Society did send other ‘men of science’ – William Wales and John Dymond to the icy north to observe the Transit from Hudson’s Bay Tahiti in the southern hemisphere was a logical choice from where to observe and record the event if, as predicted by Edmond Halley, planet Venus did indeed pass across the face of the sun on 3 June 1769.

Members of the Royal Society were in a frenzy over Tahiti but alone could not finance or support such an enterprise.  Endeavour’s voyage might best be described as a ‘piggy-back’ joint venture.

The Admiralty agreed to supply a ship, its commander and crew in order to ‘secretly’ extend the Tahiti voyage to search ‘down under’ for the fabled Great South Land.

Following the Transit, Cook opened ‘secret Admiralty orders’ and Endeavour sailed south with the Bank’s party of botanists, naturalists, artists and servants. Only four (4) of Joseph Bank’s people, including Banks himself, survived the second phase of the voyage.

THE BACK STORY

As early as 1716 Edmond Halley of comet fame postulated there would be two (2) such transits in the decade 1760, furthermore Halley predicted another century would pass before such a phenomenon would be seen again.

Halley’s imagination had been fired on observing;‘a more common transit of Mercury from St Helena a century earlier in 1677’. Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, 1998

It is here the reigns of three (3) English Kings –  Charles I (1625-1649) Charles II (1660-1685) and George III (1760-1820) intersect.

1649 – 30 January, London: In 1649 King Charles I of England and Scotland was beheaded in Whitehall.

1649 – 19 May, Westminster: An Act of Parliament passed in May of that same year declared England a Commonwealth of nations – England Ireland and Scotland.

1653: Oliver Cromwell was installed as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth in 1653 a position he held until his death in 1658.

‘During his five-year reign, Oliver Cromwell had done what no other ruler in English history had done. He had secured the British Isles as a single state including Scotland and Ireland, and secured England’s future as a colonial trading empire.

 Above all he had built an English navy which in number and quality of ships, in its finances and administration, in its officers and men, and in its global reach was superior to any in the world’. Arthur Herman, To Rule The Waves, Houghton & Stoughton, London, 2005

1655: During Cromwell’s rule Jews, driven out in 1290 by King Edward I, were formally readmitted to invigorate England’s flagging economy.

1658 – 3 September: Cromwell ‘mighty general [of] The Parliamentary Revolution who, in 1649 drove the beheading of Charles I, died of natural causes in September 1658. Cromwell’s own macabre dead-heading had yet to come.

Prince Charles – the King’s son – following his father’s beheading fled to the continent. He lived in exile for nine (9) years firstly in France then, when the French sided with Cromwell, moved to the Netherlands.

1659 – 60:  On Cromwell’s death and, the failure of his son Richard to maintain Britain as a Commonwealth under The Protectorate, Prince Charles was invited to return to England and restore the Monarchy.

1660 – February, Holland: Samuel Pepys the celebrated diarist sailed with his uncle Edward Montague to Holland. Both ardent Royalists their mission was to retrieve the now thirty (30) year old Prince Charles.

1660: Antagonist and protagonist passed each other on the high seas, Richard Cromwell fleeing to a long exile in France, Prince Charles on his way to a triumphant entry into London.

1660 – May, Westminster: Charles II, with all ‘pomp and circumstance’ was crowned King of England and of Scotland the land of his father’s birth.

Captain Robert Holmes who arranged the retrieval voyage went on to snatch New York (New Amsterdam) from the Dutch.

Montague, later first Earl of Sandwich, made marines an integral arm of the Naval Service. He was killed in a sea battle during the third Anglo-Dutch war.

Samuel Pepys according to Arthur Herman author of To Rule the Waves, became ‘a skilled bureaucrat who could subdue critics with a relentless barrage of facts and figures’. Pepys is regarded as the father of Britain’s modern Royal Navy.

Richard Cromwell returned to England in secret and lived as Richard Clarke until his death in 1712.

France, like England a maritime nation, had particular interest in the ‘The Art of Navigation’. In the 1660s King Louis XIV established the French Royal Observatory and Royal Academy of Sciences.

King Charles II, having spent considerable time in France, was well aware the French king continued to pour immense resources into the sciences.

1674: After the turmoil of Civil War and Cromwell’s Protectorate, King Charles II was forced to play catch-up. To that end in 1674 he commissioned Christopher Wren the celebrated architect and astronomer plan a Royal Observatory.

Wren fresh from designing the rebuild of St Paul’s Cathedral, destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire of London, was a perfect choice and ruined Greenwich Castle perfectly placed ‘for perfecting the Art of Navigation’.

Although the castle had been destroyed by Cromwell’s Model Army during the Civil War its solid foundations were intact. As with St. Paul’s in 1666 on the Observatory build, Wren relied on Robert Hooke’s expertise in surveying.

1675: Construction of the Observatory began in July 1675 and remarkably in just one (1) year the Royal Greenwich Observatory was up and running.

1676: Charles II appointed Rev. John Flamsteed Britain’s first Astronomer Royal. He held that exalted position for forty-five (45) years until his death in 1720.

However his long tenure was plagued by bitter controversy centred on his life’s work – lunar tables and a catalogue of upwards of 3000 stars. Flamsteed, a perfectionist, refused to publish until absolutely satisfied of the accuracy of his Tables on which so many lives depended.

Two (2) personages whose stars remain luminous in today’s world of science – Sir Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley purloined Flamsteed’s writings had them printed and published un-attributed for profit.

Not until after his death were Flamsteed’s writings published under his own name. To add insult to injury, although Flamsteed could not have known, King George I appointed Halley succeed him as Astronomer Royal.

 1720–42: Halley’s tenure of twenty-two (22) years was coloured by continuing accusations over the double-dealing and plagiarism linked to his and Newton’s nefarious dealings with Flamsteed.

These two (2) men faced the same problem as Flamsteed. How to accurately determine longitude when ships were at sea beyond sight of land?

Although half a century earlier Wren’s collaborator Robert Hooke (1635-1703) the celebrated polymath of his day, held the clock offered ‘a certain way of determining longitude’ both Newton and Halley set a face against new technology – the ‘watch’ – and hitched their wagon to the stars.

Hooke spent much energy in an attempt to conquer time-keeping. As early as 1655 he introduced English clock-makers to an improved pendulum. In a further effort to make a time-keeper that could achieve the Holy Grail, determining longitude at sea, Hooke produced the ‘balance spring’.

In  Paris Christiaan Huygens of Holland, now in the employ of King Louis XIV, was making similar progress.

‘With his marine clocks, John Harrison tested the waters of space-time….He wrested the world’s whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket-watch’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

The Rev. Nevil Maskelyne persecuted John Harrison the carpenter- artisan whose marine chronometer, H-I, had shown as early as 1736-37 on a voyage to Lisbon in HMS Centurian, capable of determining a ship’s position in relation to the land. See: Malicious Maskelyne  and  Lotto and Longitude 

Is it not ironic then in 1768, as HMS Endeavour was being made ready for Tahiti and the southern oceans, the robust jealousies and in-fighting among scientists of Flamsteed and Newton’s day were still centred on Lunar Tables and Star Catalogues versus a reliable time-keeper? See: The Third Man Charles Green

MALICIOUS MASKELYNE

Monday, August 14th, 2017

‘The Transit [of Venus] was more than just an astronomical curio, it was the key to a wealth of information about the universe, information that would be seized upon by the intensely curious men of science who characterised the age’. Vanessa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History’s Greatest Explorer, Random House, 2003

1663 – England: In 1663 during the reign of King Charles II (1660-1685) a collection of ‘intensely curious men of science’ – the ‘Invisible College’ – morphed into the Royal Society.

A century later, during King George III’s long reign 1760-1820, the Society flowered under his patronage to become one of the world’s most celebrated scientific institutions.

In 1767 with the Transit of Venus in the offing – 3 June 1769 – its second appearance that decade – the Society petitioned King George III for financial support to send observers to report on the phenomenon.

‘That the passage of the Planet Venus over the Disc of the Sun, which will happen on the 3rd of June in the year 1769, is a Phaenomenon (sic) that must, if the same be accurately observed in proper places, contribute greatly to the improvement of Astronomy on which Navigation so much depends.

 As the [Fellows] are in no condition to defray this Expense about £4,000 pounds, exclusive of the Expense of the Ships…with all humility and submit the same to your Majesty’s Royal consideration’. Cited, H.C. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1968

1768 – February: To that end James Douglas 14th Earl of Morton, then President of the Royal Society, penned on 15 February 1768 a Memorial requesting the Monarch’s financial support.

Royal money was forthcoming for it was clear accurate and reliable navigation could equate with domination over the seas. Domination would expedite expansion of territory and trade and strategically more likely assure victory in a naval war.

‘And the sum of £4,000 pounds clear of fees, [was] to be placed at the disposal of the Society…On March 5th of the next year, 1768, the Navy Board was instructed by the Admiralty to purchase a suitable vessel for the great voyage to the South Seas’. Cameron, Sir Joseph Banks, Angus and Robertson, 1968

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LOTTO AND LONGITUDE

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

‘But by reason of the motion of the Ship, the Variation of Heat and Cold, Wet and Dry, and the Difference of Gravity in different Latitudes, such a watch hath not yet been made”. And not likely to be, either, he implied’.  Isaac Newton cited, Dava Sobel, Longitude, Fourth Estate, London, 1998

‘Not likely’ however in 1736-7 on a timed voyage, England to Lisbon aboard HMS Centurian, H-1 an early model of John Harrison’s  marine watch – proved to be a reliable time-keeper.

‘He [Harrison] succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth – temporal – dimension to link points on the three-dimensional globe’. Sobel. ibid.

Accurate time-keeping was essential for the calculation of longitude at sea and John Harrison a Yorkshire carpenter solved that problem  with his sea-going ‘pocket watch’ that gave a ship’s precise position when beyond sight of land.

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, London, 2016

Maritime disasters were common-place throughout the centuries. One of England’s worst recorded disasters occurred during the reign of Queen Anne in the middle of the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) .

1707 – 29 September: At the end of September 1707 a fleet of twenty-one (21) English ships led by HMS Association flagship of Admiral Cloudesley Shovell, overall Commander of British fleets set sail from Gibraltar, captured in 1704 from Spain, for Portsmouth England their home base.

Shovell’s vessels were battered by fierce gales. As they neared England dense sea-mist thrown up by recurring storms proved a nightmare for ships’ navigators making it all but impossible to plot a safe course.

1707 – 22 October: To add to their woes, when off the coast of Cornwall heavy cloud obscured moon and stars, celestial navigation became impossible. In the darkness some sailing masters lost their bearings and failed to recognise their proximity to the Isles of Scilly.

Four (4) vessels including HMS Association crashed onto rocks and sank with all hands including Admiral Shovell. Two (2) more ships capsized, overall mortality was reckoned at 1500 souls.

 ‘The 1707 incident, so close to the shipping centres of England, catapulted the longitude question into the forefront of national affairs [and] underscored the folly of ocean navigation without a means for finding longitude’. Dava Sobel. ibid.

A lengthy investigation into the Cloudesley Shovell disaster concluded, due to prevailing weather conditions, ships’ navigators had been unable to determine their true position in relation to the Cornish coast.

‘The souls of Sir Cloudesley’s lost sailors – another thousand martyrs to the cause precipitated the famed Longitude Act of 1714, in which Parliament promised a prize of £20,000 for a solution to the longitude problem’. Sobel. ibid.

So why then by 1740, nearly a half-century after Parliament passed the Longitude Act,  did a second naval disaster of similar magnitude occur yet  its prize, £20,000 reckoned now at more than £400 millions, had not been awarded?

Worse still; ‘ when John Harrison arrived in London in the summer of 1730, the Board of Longitude was nowhere to be found. Although that august body had been in existence for more than fifteen years, it occupied no official headquarters in fact, it had never met’. Sobel. ibid.

By 1740 Harrison had built three (3) versions of his mechanical ‘watch’ but persistent hounding by the commissars – Astronomer Royals – of Greenwich Observatory meant that when disaster overtook Admiral Anson;‘the longitude clock stood on terra firma in Harrison’s home at Red Lion Square’. Sobel. ibid.

On the days before reliable time-keeping, the skies were used as a giant clock’.Vanessa Collingridge, Captain Cook, The Life, Death and Legacy of History Greatest Explorer, Random House, London, 2003

1740 – September: Although H-2 and H-3, improved models of Harrison’s chronometer, were available Commodore George Anson in HMS Centurion, took a squadron of six (6) warships to sea ‘the old fashioned way’.

‘Anson’s squadron took the Atlantic the old-fashioned way, on the strength of latitude readings, dead reckoning and good seamanship’. Sobel. ibid.

1741 – March: Anson’s ships rounded Cape Horn in early March 1741 only to be caught by gales so intense navigators had no idea where the squadron stood in relation to the land. As Dava Sobel has it; ‘a grand tragedy unfolded, founded on the loss of their longitude at sea’.

The squadron had been at sea longer than intended. Many crew developed scurvy ‘killing 6 to 10 men every day’. As time went on, there was never enough man-power to repair sails shredded by ‘winds [that] carried rain, sleet and snow’. 

Finally, the ship’s reached Juan Fernandez where Admiral ‘Anson helped carry the hammocks of sick sailors ashore, then watched helplessly as the scourge picked off his men one by one…until more than half of the original five hundred were dead and gone’.  Sobel. ibid.

‘The old fashioned way’ celestial navigation used complex Lunar Tables devised a century earlier by Rev. John Flamsteed during his tenure as Britain’s first Astronomer Royal. Appointed by King Charles II in 1675 he held the post until his death in 1719.

Flamsteed’s Luna Tables and Star Catalogues may have been well suited to static land-based platforms. But much less so on a pitching deck in churning seas when dense cloud and black starless nights magnified a navigator’s problems.

In such circumstances ‘tedious’ complicated ‘difficult to execute’ calculations required four  (4) men with hand-held instruments, the reason many a seaman lost an eye.

Flamsteed himself had, like Harrison, felt the cruel lash of duplicity.

With the connivance of Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley of comet fame,  purloined, plagiarised and, during the Flamsteed’s lifetime, published his work without permission or attribution. In 1720, following Flamsteed’s death, Halley was appointed Astronomer Royal.

Meantime in 1740 Admiral Anson’s martyrs were added to Sir Cloudesley’s lost souls and this, in part at least, because £20,000 up for grabs, had unintended consequences.

‘The Board of Longitude was top-heavy with astronomers, mathematicians and navigators’. Sobel. ibid.

The vast sum proved a heady brew when thrown amidst the warlocks of Greenwich Observatory whose intransigence was without doubt responsible for the loss of countless lives.

‘John Harrison, the man who solved longitude in 1759’. Peter Ackroyd, Revolution, Macmillan, 2016

In the mid 1760s battle-lines were drawn between moon and machine. The Observatory’s Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, Britain’s fifth Astronomer Royal, clung to outmoded 17th century thinking and old technology – Luna Tables versus the mechanical sea-going clock. ‘See: Moon Versus Machine 

1765:  Maskelyne published the first edition of his major work The Nautical Almanac’ one hundred (100) years after King Charles II founded Greenwich Observatory.

Maskelyne was certain theNautical Almanac’, based on the relationship between Sun, Moon and Stars as a means of calculating longitude on the high seas, would deliver him the ‘king’s ransom’ £20,000.

John Harrison died in March 1776 aged ‘exactly eighty-three years’. Dava Sobel covers fully the extraordinary story of the Yorkshire carpenter whose invention of the marine chronometer solved the problem of longitude at sea. See: Cook, Harrison, Green – Three Yorkshire Men Walked Into A Bar – Maskelyne

‘A true-life thriller, jam-packed with political intrigue, international warfare, personal feuds and financial skullduggery’. Francis Wheen, Daily Mail.

Longitude tells of Harrison’s painstaking efforts to perfect his ‘watch’ and of unending frustrations as he butted heads with the dictators of the Longitude Board.

Sobel catalogues the merciless persecution of Harrison by a succession of Astronomer Royals, James Bradley, Nathaniel Bliss and finally Rev. Nevil Maskelyne who held the position from 1765 to 1811. See: Malicious Maskelyne

‘Rarely have I enjoyed a book as much as Dava Sobel’s Longitude. She has an extraordinary gift of making difficult ideas clear’. Patrick O’Brien, Daily Telegraph (London).

For more details on Dava Sobel’s book, Longitude see: http://www.davasobel.com/books-by-dava-sobel/longitude

EPILOGUE

‘In January 1772 William [Harrison] wrote the king [George III] a poignant letter covering the history of his father’s hardships with the Board of Longitude and the Royal Observatory…the king is reported to have muttered under his breath “These people have been cruelly treated”. Sobel. ibid.

And where a mere three (3) years earlier, in 1769, was Harrison’s chronometer when Lieutenant James Cook RN sailed HMS Endeavour deep into the South Seas in search of the fabled Great South Land?

‘[H-4 [was] bolted to a window seat in the [Greenwich] Observatory’. Sobel. ibid. See: Captain Cook Caught Short

 

 

AUSTRALIA – BRITAIN BY A SHORT HALF-HEAD: CAPTAIN ARTHUR PHILLIP & COMTE JEAN-FRANCOISE LA PEROUSE

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

‘From the coast of China it [New Holland] lies not more than about a thousand leagues and nearly the same distance from the East Indies, from the Spice Islands about seven hundred leagues, and near a month’s run from the Cape of Good Hope…or suppose we were again involved  in a war with Spain, here are ports of shelter and refreshment for our ships, should it be necessary to sent any into the South Sea’. Admiral Sir George, Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol.1

Captain Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s A Voyage Round the World published in 1771; ‘raised the stakes in the race to see who would open up the Pacific first’. Arthur Herman, To Rule The Waves, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 2005

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COOK – CAPE YORK TO SOUTH CAPE – COOK – YOUR LAND IS MY LAND

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

‘The natives of the country…live in Tranquility which is not disturb’d by the inequality of condition; they covet not magnificent Houses, household stuff etc. They sleep as sound in a small hovel or even in the open as the King in His Pallace on a Bed of down.

The Earth and Sea of its accord furnished them with all the things necessary for life’. James Cook, The Endeavour Journal

1770 – 22 August, Cape York: In the name of King George III of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales Lieutenant James Cook RN, without consent of its owners, claimed ‘discovery’ of the entire eastern coast of New Holland and took possession of it from ‘Cape York in the most northern extremity…to South Cape’.

‘Hugh Grotius [1538-1645] remark[ed] that an act of discovery was sufficient to give clear title to sovereignty ‘only when it is accompanied by actual possession’. Cited, Henry Reynolds, Aboriginal Sovereignty, Three Nations, One Australia, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1996

1771 – July, England: When Lieutenant James Cook RN returned to England from the Endeavour voyage (1786-1771) he reported New Holland was inhabited.

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A CRACKER-JACK OPINION – NO SWEAT

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

‘During the period 1763-1793 the character of the Second British Empire was being formed…the empire of commerce in the Indian and Pacific Oceans’. Vincent T. Harlow, The Founding of the Second British Empire 1763-1793, Vol. 2 Longmans, 1963

1771 – England: In  July 1771 Lieutenant James Cook RN returned to England from the Endeavour voyage (1786-1771) and reported New Holland was inhabited.

‘The natives of the country…live in Tranquility which is not disturb’d by the inequality of condition’. James Cook, Endeavour Journal

ACTUAL OCCUPATION: ‘EXISTING IN FACT’ – OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

The whole claim of sovereignty and ownership on the basis of terra nullius [no inhabitants] was manifestly based on a misreading of Australian circumstance, not that this prevented Phillip from hoisting the Union Jack in 1788 and expropriating the owners of Sydney Cove. Stuart Mac Intyre, A Concise History of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 2004  

According to international law of the eighteenth century only if territory had no inhabitants could that territory be claimed by another nation then shared out amongst that other nations’ citizens.

England’s lawyers burned midnight oil as they sought to establish legal grounds that would allow Britain take ‘effective occupation’ from those in ‘actual possessionof the island continent of New Holland.

To that end they studied the tortuous twists and turns of English law, as laid down in the ‘Commentaries’ of Sir William Blackstone England’s leading jurist.

But it was James Cook’s poetic ‘Earth and Sea’ musings, when allied to Swiss born Anglophile Eremich Vattel’s Law of Nations, that provided Britain with NO SWEAT as ‘moral and legal justification’ for wresting New Holland; ‘the fifth great continental division of the earth’ from its Peoples.

Vattel’s Law of Nations, a treatise held to be ‘full of inconsistencies and contradictions’, an English translation published anonymously in 1760, had a profound effect on many of America’s revolutionary pamphleteers including Thomas Jefferson, James Otis and cousins Samuel and John Adams.

‘Study of the pamphlets confirmed my old-fashioned view that the America Revolution was above all else an ideological, constitutional, political struggle’. Bernard Bailyn, Forward, Origins of the American Revolution, Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1967

James Otis, a brilliant somewhat erratic Boston lawyer and prolific pamphleteer, is credited with coining the catch-cry of America’s Patriot Revolutionaries; ‘no taxation without representation’.

AMERICA’S WAR OF INDEPENDENCE: 1775-1783

Post the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) Patriot America’s call for independence centred on opposition to a plethora of taxes imposed by Britain on her American colonists.

Included were taxes on tea and sugar, Stamp and Navigation Acts, plus a miscellany of nit-picking taxes on domestic things such as glass, paint etc. known collectively as the [Charles] Townshend Acts.

But America’s colonists were not as one. Patriots sought independence from Britain, Loyalists fought for Britain and King George III.

‘The New York loyalist Peter Van Schaack reached his decision to oppose Independence on the basis of a close and sympathetic reading of Locke, Vattel, Montesquieu, Grotius, Beccaria and Pufendorf’. Bailyn. op.cit. 

Patriots and Loyalists however sang from the same hymn sheets, citing the same luminaries.

‘In pamphlet after pamphlet the American writers cited…Vattel on the laws of nature and nations and on the principals of civil government’. Bailyn. op. cit.

1775 – April, Massachusetts: At Lexington the war of words became a war of men and of brothers. While France and Spain joined Washington’s Patriot militia, aside from colonial Loyalists, England was without allies.

1783 – September, Versailles: After eight (8) years of conflict, via the Treaty of Paris against all odds, including treachery from within,  Britain lost the colonies of North and South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Rhode Island, her ‘mighty empire in the west’.

‘Britain’s decision in 1786 to occupy New South Wales was partly to compensate for the loss of the American colonies to which unwanted convicts (some 50,000 before the Declaration of Independence in 1776) had been sent and partly to protect Britain’s control of the sea route to Asia via the Southern Oceans’. Professor Martyn, Oxford Companion to British History, 1997

WILLIAM PITT AND NEW HOLLAND

‘Great Britain under the premiership of the younger Pitt (1783-1806)…asserted rights were conferred by effective occupation’. J.A. Williamson, Cook and the Opening of the Pacific, Cambridge University Press, 1946

New Holland was occupied.  Vattel was the go-to man for England’s lawyers. His Law of Nations paved the way for Britain to establish an ’empire of commerce in the Indian and Pacific Oceans’.

EFFECTIVE OCCUPATION: ‘ANSWERING ITS PURPOSE’

‘We had reason to believe, that the natives associate in tribes of many families together…you may often visit the place where the tribe resides, without finding the whole society there…but in the case of any dispute with a neighbouring tribe, they can be soon assembled’. Captain John Hunter, First Fleet Journal, 1793, Bibliobazaar reprint, 2009

In 1788 Captain John Hunter RN commander of HMS Sirius flagship of the ‘First Fleet described Sydney’s Eora Peoples in terms that met Vattel’s criteria of  ‘a civil society...private and exclusive right’.

‘The territory which a Nation inhabits, whether the Nation moved into it as a body, or whether the families scattered over the territory came together to form a civil society, forms a national settlement, to which the Nation, has a private and exclusive right. Every nation which governs itself, under whatever form, and which does not depend on any other Nation has a private and exclusive right’. Eremich Vatel, Law of Nations, 1760

Vattel provided wriggle room – no sweat – ‘failure to cultivate’. Vattel held ‘distinction’ could be made between ‘cultivated and uncultivated lands’.

‘International law recognised an obligation for people to cultivate the land they used. So, in the case of wandering tribes, so he [Vattel] contended, their failure to cultivate the lands they used meant that they [Australia’s First Peoples] had never taken real and lawful possession of these’. Alex Castles, An Australian Legal History, Law Book Company, 1982. 

‘CULTIVATED’ V ‘UNCULTIVATED’ AND ‘EFFECTIVE OCCUPATION’

‘The natives of the country…live in Tranquillity’ Britain knew New Holland was occupied. But lawyers deemed them ‘wandering tribes’. Therefore they had not earned the right to claim ‘real and lawful possession’ of their lands.

‘The main characteristics of wandering tribes throbbed with disapproval’. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and London Poor, 1851, Cited in The Unknown Mayhew, Eileen Yeo and E.P. Thompson, Schocken Books, New York

Mayhew’s insight reveals the mindset that made Vattel’s ‘wandering tribes’ hypothesis such an agreeable fit for Prime Minister William Pitt and his ‘secretive inner cabinet’ – three (3) powerful politicians Henry Dundas, Lord Hawkesbury and Lord Mulgrave.

A multitude of paupers were Britain’s ‘wandering tribes‘. Criminals, petty thieves and n’er-do-wells, despised and shunned ‘for their lax ideas of property…general improvidence…repugnance to continuous labour…disregard of female honour…love of cruelty…pugnacity…utter want of religion’. Mayhew. op.cit.

Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples were not ‘wandering tribes’ seasonal change dictated movement. They lived vigorous, healthy lives governed by strict protocols. Violation and non-observance of clan strictures were punished.

Exacting laws of avoidance, taboo and trespass, preserved a rich family, cultural and spiritual life.

CULTIVATE: ‘TO DEVELOP (FACULTY, MANNER, HABIT) IN ONESELF OR OTHERS BY PRACTICE OR TRAINING’.

Aboriginal cultivation was dynamic. In rhythm with the seasons it was based on the faculty of acute observation, inherited knowledge, training and regular practice. Understanding and obeying the dictates of their semi-arid land provided ‘all the things necessary for life‘.

‘Lieutenant Ball, who had remarked, as well as myself, that every part of the country, though the most inaccessible and rocky, appeared as if, at certain time of the year, it had been all on fire’. Dr John White, Chief Medical Officer, First Fleet Journal, 1794, reprinted Angus and Robertson, 1961

Fire; ‘a carefully calibrated system [fire] kept some areas open while others grew dark and dense’ was the essential ingredient. Judicious use of fire engineered regeneration, guaranteed repetition and allowed predictable outcomes.

By contrast European ‘planter’ cultivation was static. Tied to river systems in this ‘land of drought and flooding rain’ crops and animals would always be prey to the vagaries of weather making outcomes highly unpredictable.

‘The English were the most explicit of all the European colonizers in seeing themselves as ‘planters’. It provided a moral and legal justification for what might otherwise be regarded as the problematic act of dispossessing native peoples of their lands’. David Day, Conquest, A New History of the Modern World, Harper Collins, 2004

Grazing, cropping, harvesting, storage, all labour intensive were inherently confrontational, as each facet demanded protection. Fences – exclusion –  was the ‘planters’ hallmark.

EPILOGUE

Not until the High Court gave its Mabo judgement in 1992 was there a legal recognition that Aborigines owned and possessed their traditional lands…A similar recognition of prior or continuing sovereignty has yet to occur’. Stuart Mac Intyre. ibid. See: Cape York to South Cape – Your Land is My land

‘An effective resolution will require what the British required as long ago as 1768 ‘the consent of the natives’. G. Nettheim, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Monograph No. 7, May 1994, ed. W. Sanders, Australia National University, Goanna Press, 1994

INVASION 1788 – ‘ENGLAND WON AUSTRALIA BY SIX DAYS’ BUT ‘NOT A HINT OF IT SHALL EVER TRANSPIRE’ NT OF IT SHALL EVER TRANSPIRE’

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

‘Once again it was [Captain James] Cook’s fate to bring disaster in his wake’. Allan Moorehead, The Fatal Impact, Penguin, 1971

Britain invaded New Holland but; ‘not a hint of it shall ever transpire’.

‘It seems clear that only a few men in the inner circle of [Younger Pitt’s] government knew the exact purposes of the [Botany Bay] settlement; Eden [William Eden later Lord Auckland] was probably not in that secretive circle’. Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Gotham City, The Founding of Australia, The Arguments about Australia’s origins. Ed. Ged Martin, Hale and Iremonger, 1978

Prime Minster William Pitt’s ‘secretive circle’, Lord Hawkesbury, Lord Mulgrave and Henry Dundas, men Australia commemorates and whose names are familiar to Sydney-siders.

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