Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), naturalist and traveller

Part of:
Miscellany: Australasia, Indonesia and the Pacific, 18th-20th centuries
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


1 autograph letter, signed, to Jean-Baptiste Joseph Delambre (1749-1822) of the Institut National, Paris, the subjects including a request to release Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814), hydrographer and explorer of Australia, currently a prisoner of war in Mauritius (Banks also describes the voyage that brought Flinders there).

In 1801 Flinders had set out in the ship Investigator to circumnavigate Australia and produce a detailed survey of its coastline, especially the southern coast which was still unknown, for the British government. In June 1803 the survey was abandoned due to the poor condition of the ship. Flinders sailed for England on HMS Porpoise to get another vessel to continue the survey but was ship-wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef. He managed to navigate the ship's cutter back to Sydney and arrange the rescue of the marooned crew. He then attempted to return to England but had to stop at Mauritius for repairs in Dec 1803. At this time France and England were at war and Flinders was detained as a spy by the French Governor. Flinders wrote to Sir Joseph Banks who was able to influence the French government that he was a scientist and explorer, not a spy, and approve his release. However, the French governor, General De Caen refused to release him and he remained a prisoner for six and a half years. After his release and return to England in 1810 he began working on his book A Voyage to Terra Australis but lived only one day after its publication in 1814.



Physical description

1 item

Finding aids

Database description transcribed from Richard Aspin and Christopher Hilton's typescript supplement to S.A.J Moorat's Catalogue of Western Manuscripts

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