Samuel Wallis

Samuel Wallis (1728 –1795) served under Byron, and in 1766 was promoted to command HMS Dolphin. Accompanied by Phillip Carteret in HMS Swallow, his two-ship expedition was to search for Terra Australis Incognita, sailing westwards from Cape Horn ‘losing as little southing as possible’. He was directed to return via Cape Horn, standing as far to the south as possible, though if the winds carried him too far to the north, his instructions allowed him to come home via the East Indies.

A storm parted the ships shortly after passing through the Strait of Magellan. Carteret went on to discover Pitcairn Island, the Carteret Islands, and a new archipelago between New Ireland and New Britain north of New Guinea as well as rediscovering the Solomon and Juan Fernández Islands. Wallis spent more than a month in Tahiti's Matavai Bay, then went on to the Marianas via the Society, Tuamotu and the Marshall Islands. A stopover in Batavia saw many of his crew die from dysentery, but he made his way back to England around the Cape of Good Hope in May 1768 with the information that set up an expedition that would travel to Tahiti and observe the Transit of Venus. Wallis went on to become a Commissioner of the Admiralty.

© Ian Hughes 2017