1757 - 1798







George Vancouver
George Vancouver



George was born in Norfolk (4), England  on 22 June 1757 (1) to John Jasper Vancouver and Bridget Berners. He had two brothers, (John and Charles) and two sisters.


George Vancouver was 15 years old when he joined the Resolution (with Captain Cook) as midshipman in 1772. Also serving with him was midshipman William Bligh - later to become famous (or infamous) for the mutiny on the Bounty.


Vancouver sailed with Captain Cook on 2 voyages (3) and was witness to the attack by Hawaiian natives that took Cook's life.


Vancouver returned to England in 1779 and was promoted to Lieutenant a year later.


Between 1780-90 Vancouver saw action against both the Franco-Spanish navies at the Battle of the Saints before being given the task of exploring the North West American coastline.


In April 1791 Vancouver left England with two ships, the HMS Chatham and Discovery. He is said to have landed on the Australian coast but his main mission was not the exploration of New Holland.


He was the first to map King George Sound (which he also named) and the harbours at Albany and this was finally to bring British settlement to the west coast.


From Australia he sailed to New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii and then on to North America where today a major city bears his name.


After returning to England via Cape Horn, George was attacked in the press and even assaulted in public by Thomas Pitt, whom George had sent home in disgrace. Pitt (later to become Lord Camelford) was accused of the murder of a fellow officer and was court-martialed. Pitt's connections obviously helped as he got off despite evidence that pointed to his guilt. Vancouver's brother, Charles, is said to have taken revenge for Pitt's assault on George and beat Pitt in public until he had to be restrained by others.


Claims and counter claims between Pitt and Vancouver were made about conduct during the voyage and in the end the stress may have led to Vancouver's early demise. Vancouver died three years after returning home aged just 40.  


He did not manage to publish the account of his travels but the work was completed by his brother John and Captain Puget. The six volume set called 'A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean' was published in London in 1798. George Vancouver was one of Britain's greatest navigators and the maps he made of the north American coastline were to remain in use for many generations.


The name George Vancouver may be better known in Canada than in Australia and the part he played in Australian history may have been small but his mapping of King George Sound was to eventually lead to settlement.


(1) One source says Vancouver was born in 1758 and another says he was born in 1757.
(2) It is believed that the Vancouver family were of Dutch descent.
(3) One source says Vancouver sailed with Cook on 3 voyages but we believe he was with Cook only on the 2nd and 3rd voyages.
(4) One source says he was born in Lincolnshire.




1757 - Born June 22nd in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England.

1772 - Joined the Royal Navy. One source says he entered service in 1771.

1772 - Joined Captain Cook on the voyage to the eastern coast of Australia.

1776 - Joined Captain Cook again.

1779 - Returned to England.

1780 - Became a lieutenant.

1781 - Stationed in the West Indies until 1783.

1784 - Carried out his first independent surveys.

1790 - Promoted to Commander.

1791 - Led an expedition to survey the north west coast of America. On the way he surveyed the south coast of Australia.

1798 - Died on May 18th.


Links to more information:


Vancouver, George (1757-1798)

George Vancouver

George Vancouver




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