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Series 10: Letters received by Banks from James Cook concerning the third Pacific voyage in HM Ships Resolution and Discovery, 1776

Provenance note

The letters in this series, previously located at ML Safe 1/68, were purchased in 1884 from Lord Brabourne by Sir Saul Samuel, the Agent-General for New South Wales in 1884. They had been presented by the Government of New South Wales to the Australian Museum in 1894 and were transferred from the Museum to the Mitchell Library in November 1935. 

The letters in this series include the original folio numbera assigned by Banks, written in ink in an unknown hand in the top right hand corner. 

They were used by the compilers of Historical records of New South Wales, vol 1, part 1 (1893). 

Background note

The aim of James Cook's third and final Pacific voyage (1776-1780) was to attempt to find a north west passage from the Pacific to Europe. Cook set sail from England in HMS Resolution in July 1776. The Islander Omai, brought to England from the Society Islands by Tobias Furneaux, commander of HMS Adventure during Cook's previous voyage, sailed with Cook on the Resolution for his return to the South Seas. 

The departure of Cook's second ship, HMS Discovery under the command of Charles Clerke, had been delayed by several weeks. 

Prior to leaving on his third expedition, Cook prepared his account of the second voyage for publication seeking Banks' assistance with botanical descriptions. Banks had also arranged for Cook to sit for the artist, Nathaniel Dance, and shortly before leaving England Cook learned he had been awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society for a paper on the prevention of scurvy during extended ocean voyages.


Discovery (ship : Captain = Charles Clerke)
Resolution (ship)