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Vancouver, George

VANCOUVER, GEORGE (c. 1758-1798), English navigator, was born in 1758. He entered the navy at the age of thirteen, and accompanied James Cook in his second (1772-74) and third (1776-80) voyages of discovery. After serving for several years in the West Indies, both under Rodney (his commander in the action of the 12th of April 1782) and under Alan Gardner (1786-89), Vancouver, on Gardner's recommendation, was appointed to command an expedition to the north-west coast of America, to take over from the Spaniards the territory they had seized (and subsequently relinquished) in that region, to explore the coast from 30 N. round to Cook's River (or Inlet), to search for an eastward passage to the great lakes, and to ascertain the true character of Juan de Fuca Strait. Vancouver, accompanied by Lieutenant Broughton, left Falmouth on the 1st of April 1791 and proceeded by way of the Cape of Good Hope to Australia, where he carefully surveyed part of the south-west coast, especially King George's Sound, whose value as a harbour he pointed out. He next made for Dusky Bay, New Zealand (which he was the first properly to explore), and thence sailing north-east, discovered Oparo Islet (27 36' S.; 144 12' W.), and on the 30th of December reached Tahiti, where he was again joined by Broughton, who meanwhile had discovered Chatham Island. After staying about three weeks at Tahiti and several weeks at the Hawaiian Islands, Vancouver on the 18th of April 1792 sighted the west coast of North America (California, then known as New Albion) in 39 27' N. He examined the coast up to 52 18' N. with minute care, surveying all inlets, discovering the Gulf of Georgia, and circumnavigating Vancouver Island (named after him). After another visit (February-March 1793) to the Hawaiian Islands, in whose races and affairs he took great interest, Vancouver resumed his exploration of the American coast in April, surveying north to 56 N., and south (past the Spanish Californian settlements) to 35 N. During a fresh stay at the Hawaiian Islands (January-March 1794) Vancouver accepted their submission to Great Britain, but his annexation seems never to have been officially ratified. Quitting the group again in March 1794, Vancouver sailed, by Chernigov Island and Kodiak Island, to Cook's Inlet, which was now proved to be no river. After a fresh survey of much of the coast north of San Francisco, Vancouver set out homewards via Cape Horn and St Helena in October 1794. On the way he made a careful examination of Cape St Lucas, the southern point of 'Lower California, the Galapagos Islands and some other points. He reached the mouth of the Shannon on the 13th of September 11795 (the Thames on the 20th of October), and immediately set about the preparation of his narrative; but he died at Petersham in Surrey on the loth of May 1798, before he had completed his task. His brother John, assisted by Captain Puget, published the complete record in 1 798.

See A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and round the World ... in 1790-5 . . . under Captain George Vancouver, 3 vols. (1798), with an atlas of maps and plates.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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