Papers of the Board of Longitude : Observations in the voyage of the Daedalus

Papers of the Board of Longitude

<p>The first of two volumes, the second being [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00063/1'>RGO 14/63</a>], that make up the journal kept by <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Gooch'>William Gooch</a> on board the supply ship <a href='/search?keyword=Daedalus'>Daedalus</a>. Gooch was a young astronomer who set sail on board the Daedalus in August 1791. The Board of Longitude sent him to rendezvous with <a href='/search?keyword=Captain%20George%20Vancouver'>Captain George Vancouver</a> (see portrait [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw06472/Probably-George-Vancouver?LinkID=mp04600&search=sas&sText=vancouver&role=sit&rNo=0'>link</a>] at National Portrait Gallery) at <a href='/search?keyword=Nootka%20Sound'>Nootka Sound</a>. His aim was to join the mission to survey and chart the <a href='/search?keyword=north%20west%20coast%20of%20America'>north west coast of America</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/540795.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . However, Gooch never made contact with Vancouver and the <a href='/search?keyword=Discovery'>Discovery</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/263918.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . He died alongside the ship's Commander <a href='/search?keyword=Richard%20Hergest'>Richard Hergest</a> and <a href='/search?keyword=Manuel'>Manuel</a>, a Portuguese sailor, at <a href='/search?keyword=Waimea'>Waimea</a>, on the island of <a href='/search?keyword=Oahu'>Oahu</a> on 12 May 1792, after an encounter with the Hawaiian <i>Pahupu</i> (see a terrestrial floor globe [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/200582.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] that records this incident).</p> <p>The beginning of the journal, from pages [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(15);return false;'>6</a>] to [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(147);return false;'>70</a>], is organised in a manner familiar to other journals made by astronomers on voyages to the <a href='/search?keyword=Pacific'>Pacific</a> (see, for example, [<a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00058/1'>RGO 14/58</a>]). Gooch begins by stating this journal will record the journey from <a href='/search?keyword=Rio%20Janeiro'>Rio Janeiro</a> to the <a href='/search?keyword=Falkland%20Islands'>Falkland Islands</a>. He proceeds according to the structured template noted by the astronomer <a href='/search?keyword=William%20Wales'>William Wales</a> and encouraged by Gooch's patron and effective employer, the Astronomer Royal <a href='/search?keyword=Nevil%20Maskelyne'>Nevil Maskelyne</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/379043.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . These organised markings last from the Daedalus' departure from Rio on 30 November 1791, until its departure from the Falkland Islands on 27 February 1792. He describes the ship's course, wind direction, and leeway. Gooch notes on page [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>5</a>] that he will keep time, in the style of the log book, with 'each day beginning at the preceding noon'. The initial pages are interspersed with a range of drawings, astronomical calculations, translations, notes and letters. These observations come to make up the majority of the two volumes. They are characterised by the anthropologist Greg Dening as making up workbooks that the astronomer used to "fag" out his observations', as was the style in which he had had to communicate his knowledge in the formal examination proceedings at the <a href='/search?keyword=University%20of%20Cambridge'>University of Cambridge</a> (Greg Dening, The death of William Gooch: a history's anthropology [Melbourne, 1995], p. 53).</p> <p>Particularly interesting in this volume is Gooch's note on page [<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(150);return false;'>71v</a>], in which he has neatly written ' Islands discover'd on March 30th 1772 by the Daedalus hired store Ship, Lieut Richard Hergest Commander, <a href='/search?keyword=Mr.%20Thomas%20New'>Mr. Thomas New</a>, Master'. Though Gooch wrote this statement on a scrap of paper, and followed it with several pages of seemingly rough, untidy calculations, this marks the moment that the ship thought they had 'discovered' unchartered islands. The rough calculations, untidy triangulations and sketched maps that follow are Gooch's eager attempt to survey and map the islands, in order to communicate the discovery back to the Admiralty and the Board of Longitude. We now know these islands as part of the <a href='/search?keyword=Marquesas%20Islands'>Marquesas Islands</a> [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13894.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='NMM icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] . Unfortunately for Gooch, they had been encountered several months before by the American fur trader <a href='/search?keyword=Joseph%20Ingraham'>Joseph Ingraham</a> in 1791, who had named them the <a href='/search?keyword=Washington%20Islands'>Washington Islands</a>. Other islands in the group had been known since 1595 and <a href='/search?keyword=Cook'>Cook</a> visited and documented [<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/13894.html'><img title="Link to RMG" alt='RMG icon' class='nmm_icon' src='/images/general/nmm_small.png'/></a>] them in 1774. Gooch's rough markings made of these islands reveal the extraordinarily rough process through which a ship could interpret what they saw as 'discovery', into something that could be carried and communicated back to England. Made up by an unregulated mix of calculations, drawings and rough translations of the language of the peoples there, Gooch's markings appear as a range of quite innocent impressions. They demonstrate the enormous amount of labour and specific technique required to convert such encounters into orderly maps. They also show the extent to which the twenty one year old Gooch, as a very young astronomer on his first voyage, was both excited and daunted at the prospect of having to act out the skilful art of charting.</p> <p>Eóin Phillips<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /> </p>


Want to know more?

Under the 'More' menu you can find , any transcription and translation we have of the text and find out about downloading or sharing this image.

No Contents List Available
No Metadata Available

Download

Share

If you want to share this page with others you can send them a link to this individual page:
Alternatively please share this page on social media

You can also embed the viewer into your own website or blog using the code below: