skip to content

National Maritime Museum Manuscripts : Journal of Richard Pickersgill, Third Lieutenant of the Resolution, Captain James Cook

Pickersgill, Richard

National Maritime Museum Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The journal of Richard Pickersgill, which was written while serving as third lieutenant onboard HMS Resolution under the command of Captain James Cook from 1772-1775. Prior to this voyage, Picksersgill had served on two voyages that circumnavigated the globe - the first as seaman and master's mate on the Dolphin, 1766-1768; the second as master's mate with James Cook on the Endeavour voyage, 1768-1771. Having extensively charted the eastern coast of New Holland (Australia) on what is known as Captain Cook's First Voyage, the general purpose of this voyage in the Resolution was to explore the South Pacific to determine the location and existence of what was called 'Terra Australis Incognita' - that uncharted southern land mass, desired by many, including the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty Alexander Dalrymple, to have existed.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>As an officer who was clearly especially trusted by Cook, we see in the journal that he was asked to lead some of the landing parties and act as negotiator at the Society Islands, Pickersgill's journal has become regarded as offering one of the most intriguing perspectives of Cook's second voyage (for example, see Christian Holmes ed. Captain Cook's Second Voyage: The Journals of Lieutenants Elliott and Pickersgill (London, 1984). Perhaps most intriguing about Pickersgill's journal when considering the history of exploration in relation to the history of navigation, is the amount of space in the journal devoted to 'novel encounters' - particularly with land. As such, his journal is made up of very rich observations of many different categories of what is sometimes called 'the other': whether peoples, landscapes, flora, or fauna. Lacking in his journal, however, is much to do with aspects of a voyage that we may expect to see in a journal - whether about life onboard ship, or the customs and practices of those on the Resolution, or of many of the routine conflicts concerning naval discipline, which Pickersgill was as much involved in as object as enforcer. The reason for this is as much to do with the appetites of the audience imagined by Pickersgill, as it was down to his individual authorial agency. As the anthropologist and historian Greg Dening has noted, across England and much of northern mainland Europe the chattering public were captivated by stories of European 'discoveries' in the Pacific, the content of which served as much for wondrous entertainment as for the quest for purely philosophical consumption. In that age of discovery and development of new forms of navigation, it is perhaps interesting to observe slightly different questions about 'orientation' - that is, the different kinds of audiences to whom writers imagined they were communicating when they recalled their experiences.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>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 , and information about sharing this image.

No Contents List Available
No Metadata Available


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: