LSexE - Comes to Rhode Island

Published by Kathy Abbass on Wednesday, 20th September 2017 - 12:00PM in All RIMAP Research Results

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THE LORD SANDWICH ex ENDEAVOUR®  COMES TO RHODE ISLAND

© RIMAP 2017

The vessel that sailed with James Cook on his first circumnavigation was built in Whitby, a village on the eastern Yorkshire coast of England. Whitby was an important shipbuilding center for the North Sea and Baltic trade. These ships were well suited to carry heavy cargoes, especially coal from northern England to London, which is why they are called colliers. In the 18th century Whitby was called the “seamen’s nursery” because so many sailors were trained there. 

The ENDEAVOUR replica. © ANMM.

THE LORD SANDWICH ex ENDEAVOUR® COMES TO RHODE ISLAND

© RIMAP 2017

The vessel that sailed with James Cook on his first circumnavigation was built in Whitby, a village on the eastern Yorkshire coast of England. Whitby was an important shipbuilding center for the North Sea and Baltic trade. These ships were well suited to carry heavy cargoes, especially coal from northern England to London, which is why they are called colliers. In the 18th century Whitby was called the “seamen’s nursery” because so many sailors were trained there. 

Whitby on the east Yorkshire coast of England. Wikipedia, Graphic © RIMAP 2016.

James Cook was from Yorkshire, and as a teenager he apprenticed to Whitby shipowner, John Walker. Walker's house is now a museum.

John Walker's house in Whitby. Photo by Bill Burns, © RIMAP 2017.

The Whitby ships were beamy and flat-bottomed. They were not designed for speed, but were merchant ships to carry heavy or clumsy loads. Local Whitby Shipwright Thomas Fishburn built a typical collier for Thomas Milner, launching her in June 1764. Her name was EARL OF PEMBROKE.

A typical collier in Whitby Harbor, often identified as the ENDEAVOUR. By Luny.

In 1768 the Royal Navy agreed to support a scientific expedition to Tahiti by providing a ship and its crew. Two Royal Navy  and three commercial vessels were considered for the voyage. The Royal Navy chose the Whitby collier EARL OF PEMBROKE for that service. 

Part of the original EARL OF PEMBROKE survey. ADM 106-3315 p 197A.

Details about the ship and her construction are found in many documents, including the March 27, 1768, marine survey of the EARL OF PEMBROKE. This survey describes many of the ship's construction details. The Royal Navy shipyard also made drawings to show the ship's size and shape, and these materials were used to design and build the modern ENDEAVOUR replica.

Lines of the ENDEAVOUR ex EARL OF PEMBROKE

When the EARL OF PEMBROKE was selected for the voyage, her name was changed to HMB ENDEAVOUR. She was square rigged but was called a "Bark" because there was another HMS ENDEAVOUR in the Royal Navy.  

James Cook, painted later in his career. Greenwich Maritime Museum.

Because of his navigational and cartographic skills, and because of his former experience in such ships, Lt. James Cook was then appointed to command the ENDEAVOUR on the voyage to observe the Transit of Venus at Tahiti.

Chart of Cook’s first circumnavigation in the ENDEAVOUR Bark, 1768-1771. Wikipedia.

The observation of the Transit was not successful, but Cook's secret orders were also to explore the South Pacific and find the land mass presumed to be there. 

Joseph Banks and ethnological artifacts collected on the voyage. Benjamin West.

Joseph Banks collected biological and ethnological materials at every stop on the voyage. Descriptions of the cultures met along the way expanded.European knowledge of the world.

An image of Tahiti. Wikipedia.

Cook did not find the presumed Great Southern Continent, but he did visit many local islands. Then he circumnavigated New Zealand, where he met violent resistance from fierce Maori warriors..

Maori warriors and watercraft. Wikipedia.

From New Zealand the ENDEAVOUR sailed to southeastern Australia, where Cook and his crew met very different people.

Australian small craft. Wikipedia.

And Joseph Banks collected many exotic plants and animals.

The kangaroo. Wikipedia.

As the ENDEAVOUR sailed along the east coast of Australia, she was badly damaged when she went onto the Great Barrier Reef. Cook saved the vessel by throwing overboard 40-50 tons of iron and stone ballast, spoiled stores, and all but four of the ship's guns. In 1969 six of the cannons were found, and now are displayed in three Australian cities, and in Philadelphia, Wellington, and London.

The Cook cannon in New Zealand. Museum of New Zealand. Wikipedia

Once the ENDEAVOUR was off the reef, she sailed to a nearby river, where her flat bottom was an advantage for repairs. That river is now called the "Endeavour River."

The ENDEAVOUR repaired in the Endeavour River. Cook. Wikipedia

The ENDEAVOUR then continued her voyage, and at the north tip of Australia Cook claimed that continent for Britain. The year 2020 will be the 250th anniversary of that claim.

A modern artist's rendition of Cook claiming Australia. Wikipedia.

The ENDEAVOUR then continued to Batavia (today's Jakarta, Indonesia) for more detailed repairs at the Dutch shipyard there. The ENDEAVOUR returned to England in 1771 and the next year Cook sailed in the RESOLUTION for his second voyage around the world.

The ENDEAVOUR then continued to serve as a Royal Navy store ship, carrying supplies three times to the Falkland Islands between 1771 and 1774.

The United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands. Wikipedia.

The ENDEAVOUR was then sold to J. Mather and returned to private service, making a trip to Archangel in Russia. 

The United Kingdom and Archangel. GoogleEarth.

By 1775 conditions in North America were leading up to the Revolution, and Mather offered the ENDEAVOUR as a transport to carry troops to serve in that conflict. The ENDEAVOUR was refused because of her poor condition, but after some repair and a name change to LORD SANDWICH, she was accepted and carried Hessian mercenaries to the British colonies.

A typical image of the British arriving and disembarking troops. Wikipedia.

After the British abandoned Boston in March of 1776, Newport was selected as a Royal Navy harbor. In December British and Hessian troops occupied the two largest islands of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. The LORD SANDWICH was in the fleet of vessels that carried these occupying troops. By this time, Cook was sailing on his third voyage around the world, again in the RESOLUTION.

The 1777 map of Rhode Island by Blaskowitz. Aquidneck is the large island in the middle of the Bay, with Newport at its south end. Conanicut Island is to the west.

The British originally planned to attack Providence and retake Boston, but the Patriots controlled the mainland around Narragansett Bay, and stopped these British plans. Instead, there were many engagements between the British and Patriots, especially along the shores of the Bay. 

Part of the list of prisoners kept on board the LORD SANDWICH transport in 1777. Original NHS, Graphic © RIMAP 2002.

While in Rhode Island, the British transports were used to carry troops to and from New York, and especially to collect fuel wood at Long Island. The LORD SANDWICH, the RACHEL AND MARY, and possibly other ships were used as prisons for captured American patriots. Local citizens suspected of mischief in 1777 were kept on the LORD SANDWICH until the American threat was over. 

The Ozanne drawing of the French fleet entering Narragansett Bay, August 8, 1778. Graphic © RIMAP 2015.

In the Spring of 1778 the French joined the American cause and sent a fleet and army to help the Patriots, and on July 29 the French arrived at Rhode Island. The British ordered the Royal Navy vessels stationed in Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River to self-destruct rather than be captured, and seven eventually did so. 

This contemporary drawing of the French fleet’s entry into Narragansett Bay on August 8 confirms the transport locations by the masts standing proud from the water. Graphic © RIMAP 2015.

The British sent three Royal Navy vessels and as many as 30 transports and privately owned vessels to Newport’s Inner Harbor and south of Goat Island for safety. The British also scuttled 12 transports in the Outer Harbor to act as a blockade to protect the city from the French as they entered the Bay. A 13th transport was set on fire and lost in the same area.

The 1779 Fage chart shows where the transports were scuttled in Newport's Outer Harbor. Graphic © RIMAP 2017.

The ensuing Siege of Newport and Battle of Rhode Island failed to change the balance of power in Rhode Island, and the British abandoned the area in 1779. When the French arrived under Rochambeau in 1780, they began taking up equipment from the British transports scuttled in the Outer Harbor. Providence businessmen complained that the French were taking their property because they had bought the rights to the property left behind by British. It is unknown how much was removed by the French, and by the local Rhode Islanders. It is also unknown what happened to the ships after the war, except that 40 years later parts of the harbor were still congested with their remains. 

This Rochambeau chart shows where the French anchored their vessels in a Vauban arrangement to control the entrance to the Bay. The rectangle also shows where some of the scuttled British transports were located. NA, Graphic © RIMAP 2017.

RIMAP has spent many years teasing out the later history of Newport Harbor, in an effort to determine what processes might be important to an understanding of what happened to the transport fleet. Some of those conclusions are found in the other Programs of this website.


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