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A Voyage Round the World in the Years 1740, 1741, 1742, 1743, 1744, by George Anson, Esq. ; Commander in Chief of a Squadron of His Majesty's Ships, sent upon an expedition to the South Seas

Date: 1748
Overall (closed): 60 x 220 x 270 mm, 2131 g
Overall (open): 220 x 470 mm
Medium: paper, ink, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00048299

User Terms

    Lavishly illustrated with over forty engravings, this account of George Anson's voyage around the world between 1740 and 1744 was a popular success which did much to raise interest in the largely unknown Pacific region.
    SignificanceThis book is a primary source of information relating to English exploration in the Pacific during the early 18th century and forms a natural bridge between the voyages of William Dampier and the later voyages of Byron, Wallis, Carteret and Cook.
    HistoryBorn 1697, George Anson entered the Royal Navy in 1712 and served in a succession of vessels. Following England's declaration of war on Spain in 1739 (War of Jenkin's Ear), Anson was given command of HMS CENTURION and a squadron of six ships and sent to attack Spanish interests in the Pacific. In this he was successful, capturing the famously rich Manila Galleon carrying over £500,000 of treasure in 1744. However, over 700 of his men died during the voyage.

    Following delays, Anson's force consisting of the men-of-war CENTURION, GLOUCESTER, SEVERN, PEARL, WAGER, TRYAL and two store ships ANNA and INDUSTRY left England in September 1740. Although a significant force, the ships were largely manned by landsmen and pensioners impressed from Chelsea Hospital and scurvy and other illnesses decimated the crews.

    The ships were badly battered rounding Cape Horn and by the time Anson regrouped at the island of Juan Fernandez he was left with just three serviceable ships (CENTURION, GLOUCESTER and TRYAL) and 335 men from an original force of 961.

    Revived by the sojourn at Juan Fernandez, Anson took his ships back to the South American coast where, after taking several Spanish prizes, they attacked and captured the town of Paita in Peru. By January 1742 Anson had sailed north to Mexico where he hoped to capture the Manila Galleon on its voyage from Acapulco to Manila in the Philippines. However, news of Anson's ships had already reached the authorities in Acapulco and they delayed the departure of the treasure ship until Anson was forced to withdraw to find fresh food and supplies for his ailing men.

    Leaving the Mexican coast, Anson crossed the Pacific following the usual track taken by the Manila Galleon until he reached the island of Tinian near Guam. There he was forced to consolidate his surviving men in one ship - CENTURION, and after resting at Tinian, Anson sailed to Macau for a much-needed refit.

    In January 1743 CENTURION left Macau and sailed east for the Philippines where on 20 June Anson's men successfully attacked and captured the Manila Galleon carrying 1,313,843 silver pesos and 35,862 ounces of silver, plus other valuables. The CENTURION arrived back in England in June 1744.

    After his return to England Anson became a Member of Parliament (1744 - 47). In 1747, while commanding a British fleet, he defeated a French force at the Battle of Cape Finisterre and was promoted Rear Admiral of the White. Subsequently in 1751 he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty - a post he filled until his death in 1762. As First Lord he introduced measures which greatly improved the administration of the Royal Navy and led to Britain's success in the Seven Years War (1754- 63). It was during this war that Anson proposed the capture of Manila.

    Anson's account of the voyage was published in 1748 and became an early source of information on matters relating to the Pacific region. As is made clear in the Introduction, to 'A Voyage Round the World ...’ such voyages established a resource of knowledge which could be used to advance national interests both militarily and commercially. To quote Richard Walter - Anson's Chaplain and editor "...the more important purposes of navigation, commerce and national interest may be greatly promoted: For every authentic account of foreign coasts and countries will contribute to one or more of these great ends ...” Anson’s voyage is regarded as the forerunner to the great era of Pacific exploration which ultimately resulted in Cook's mapping of the Pacific.

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