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Scarce engraved view of Le Maire Straits, Argentina, showing Lord Anson’s ship, from the English edition of Lord Anson’s famous circumnavigation of the world. Lord Anson’s log: The 6th, in the morning, we saw the land of Terra del Fuego, … Read Full Description
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Scarce engraved view of Le Maire Straits, Argentina, showing Lord Anson’s ship, from the English edition of Lord Anson’s famous circumnavigation of the world.
Lord Anson’s log:
The 6th, in the morning, we saw the land of Terra del Fuego, consisting of high craggy hills, towering above each other, mostly covered with snow, with deep horrid vallies, some few scatter|ed trees, no plains, nor one chearful green through all the dismal prospect; so that the whole may not improperly be termed the Land of Desolation; and I much question whether a more dreary aspect is to be seen in any other part of the habitable earth; for voyagers say this is inhabited, but surely its inhabitants must be the most miserable of human beings. This evening we lay by, that we might not overshoot the Streights of Le Maire in the night; though I believe, had we kept on, and passed round Staten Land, a small island or two, which lie to the eastward of those Streights, and together Page 273 with Terra del Fuego frame them, it would have been more to our advantage than by pas|sing through them. The
7th, at eight in the morning, we were very near a point of land on Terra del Fuego, called Cape St James, bearing E. S. E. another called Cape St. Vincent, S. E. half E. the mid|dlemost of the Three Brothers, being three high hills on Terra del Fuego, appearing almost con|tiguous to each other, S. by W. and a very high Sugar-loaf Hill, called Monte Gorda, farther up in the country, and appearing above them, bore south from us. It is by these marks that you know you are near Strait Le Maire; and in|deed we began to open them in this position. By noon we were almost through them, being assisted by a very strong tide with much rippling, and which made to the southward somewhat before 10 o’clock in the morning. The course through is almost directly south, and there are no shoals nor rocks in the passage from whence you may incur any danger; the only thing you have to fear is, the tide’s turning against you while you are in the straits, for in that case you are certainly hurried back again, and can have no passage there till the next turn of the tide. The breadth of this strait may be about six or seven leagues, and its length about seven or eight; which being passed, you enter into a vast open ocean, commonly known by the name of the South Sea. This strait lies in latitude 55 deg. south, longitude from London 67 deg.
Anson was given command of the 60-gun third-rate HMS Centurion in the West Africa Squadron in 1737 and, having been promoted to commodore with his broad pennant in HMS Centurion, he took command of a squadron sent to attack Spanish possessions in South America at the outset of the War of Jenkins’ Ear. In 1740. Those orders were ‘to take, burn, sink or otherwise destroy the ships and vessels belonging to the Crown of Spain‘. The ships involved were the Centurion, Gloucester, Severn, Pearl, Wager, Tryal and two store ships the Anna and Industry. Anson had great difficulty in manning the fleet and the crew was supplemented with 500 invalids, out-patients from Chelsea Hospital who all died during the voyage.
After setting off later than planned, Anson’s squadron encountered successive disasters. Two of his vessels, the fifth-rate HMS Pearl and the fourth-rate HMS Severn, failed to round Cape Horn and returned home. Meanwhile, the sixth-rate HMS Wager was wrecked off the coast of Chile, where the crew subsequently mutinied. The lateness of the season forced him to round the Horn in very stormy weather, and the navigating instruments of the time did not allow for exact observations. Anson reached the Juan Fernández Islands in June 1741 with only three of his six ships remaining: HMS Centurion, the fourth-rate HMS Gloucester, and the sloop HMS Tryall. The strength of his crews had fallen from 961 to 335 due to scurvy. In November 1741, he was able to sack the small port city of Paita in Peru in the absence of any effective Spanish force on the coast. However, the steady decrease of his crews by scurvy and the worn-out state of his remaining consorts compelled him to collect all the remaining survivors in Centurion. Anson then rested at the island of Tinian before making his way to Macao in November 1742.
After facing considerable difficulties with the Chinese, Anson sailed again with his one remaining vessel to search for one of the Manila galleons that conducted trade between Mexico and the Chinese merchants in the Philippines. He captured the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga, which he encountered off Cape Espiritu Santo on 20 June 1743. The ship had 1,313,843 pieces of eight on board, and the charts captured with the ship added many islands (and phantom islands) to the British knowledge of the Pacific, including the Anson Archipelago.
Anson took his prize back to Macao, sold her cargo to the Chinese, kept the specie, and sailed for England via the Cape of Good Hope. Despite passing by a French fleet patrolling the Channel through a thick fog, he reached England on 15 June 1744. The prize money earned from the capture of the galleon made Anson a rich man for life and bought him considerable political influence. However, he initially refused promotion to Rear-Admiral of the Blue out of anger that the admiralty refused to sanction a captain’s commission he had given one of his officers.
Anson, George (1697-1762), Voyage Round The World in The Years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV by George Anson Esq; Commander In Chief of a Squadron of His Majesty?s Ships, Sent Upon an Expedition to The South-Seas. Compiled From Papers and Other Materials of The Right Honourable George Lord Anson, and Published Under His Direction, by Richard Walter, M.A. Chaplain of His Majesty’s Ship The Centurion, in that Expedition.
Hill, J. The Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages. San Diego 1974 : 1817.
Sabin, J. A Dictionary of Books Relating to America, from its Discovery to the Present Time. New York. (1936) 1967. : 1626.
Shirley, R. Maps in the Atlases of The British Library. London 2004 : G.ANS-1a., RCIN 1072004.
National Library Australia: Bib ID 644716
State Library New South Wales: Call Numbers:RB/DQ909.8A/A622/1
State Library Victoria: RARELT 910.41 AN8V
State Library South Australia: 910.41 A622.4 b (RGS Special Collection)
National Maritime Museum Greenwich: Item ID PBD3287
George Anson (1697 - 1762)
Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, PC, FRS, was a Royal Navy officer who served during the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Quadruple Alliance, and the War of Jenkins' Ear. He commanded the fleet that defeated the French Admiral de la Jonquière at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre during the War of the Austrian Succession. Anson became the First Lord of the Admiralty during the Seven Years' War and initiated several reforms, including improved medical care, uniforms for commissioned officers, and the rating of ships according to their number of guns. Anson was born on 23 April 1697 in Shugborough Manor, Staffordshire, and entered the navy at the age of 15 during the War of the Spanish Succession. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1716 and to post-captain in 1723. Anson's command of the 60-gun third-rate HMS Centurion in the West Africa Squadron in 1737 allowed him to take command of a squadron that attacked Spanish possessions in South America at the beginning of the War of Jenkins' Ear. Anson's circumnavigation of the world began in 1740 and encountered several disasters before he captured the Manila galleon Nuestra Señora de Covadonga in 1743. Anson returned to England in 1744 and was created a baron the following year. Anson's squadron had faced a series of disasters due to their delayed departure, including stormy weather as they rounded Cape Horn. Two of his vessels were unable to round the Cape and returned home, while another ship was wrecked off the coast of Chile, leading to a mutiny among the crew. By the time Anson reached the Juan Fernández Islands in June 1741, only three of his six ships remained, and the strength of his crews had fallen drastically due to scurvy. Despite this, he was able to harass the Spanish and sack the small port city of Paita in Peru. The decrease in his crews and the worn-out state of his remaining ships forced him to collect all the remaining survivors in the Centurion. After resting at the island of Tinian, Anson sailed to Macao in November 1742, where he encountered difficulties with the Chinese before capturing the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga. Anson sold the cargo to the Chinese, kept the specie, and sailed for England via the Cape of Good Hope. He reached England on 15 June 1744, and the prize money from the capture of the galleon made him a wealthy man and earned him considerable political influence. Although he initially refused promotion to Rear-Admiral of the Blue, he eventually accepted it after the admiralty refused to sanction a captain's commission he had given to one of his officers.
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