A Voyage to the South-Seas, in the Years 1740-1. Containing a faithful narrative of the loss of His Majesty's Ship the Wager on a desolate island in the latitude 47 South, longitude 81:40 West

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Author: John Bulkeley and John Cummins

Year: 1743

Publisher: Printed for Jacob Robinson

Place: London


xx+220 pages. Octavo (8" x 5") bound in later calf with red spine labels in gilt. (European Americana 743/40; Hill 210; Sabin 9108) First edition. One of two 1743 London editions (priority unknown).

In 1740, Commodore George Anson was commissioned to capture or disrupt Spanish colonies in the Pacific Ocean. Setting off from Portsmouth, the squadron almost immediately met with disaster. The great number of provisions (including almost £15,000 worth of trade goods) and cramped conditions meant that the food rotted and disease was rampant. By the time they reached Brazil, the ships required deep cleaning and repairs. Bad weather then hampered the crossing of the Magellan Strait and soon the fleet had been scattered.

In May 1741, one of the ships, HMS Wager was wrecked off the coast of Chile and the captain, David Cheap, in strict observance of Admiralty regulations, refused to pay wages to the wrecked seamen but still expected the men to work. He also began to arm himself with pistols and on 10 June 1741, Cheap shot a drunken sailor. He refused the man treatment and the sailor suffered for two weeks before dying. This lost Cheap most of his support, discontent began to rise, and the crew mutinied. They split into two groups, the mutineers deciding to sail back through the Magellan Strait, while the captain's group favored a northward voyage in the hopes of rendezvousing with Anson.

The mutineers navigated the Magellan Strait and reeturned to Brazil where they managed to gain passage back to Europe aboard a Portuguese ship. However, only 29 of the crew made it back to England. This account of the mutiny was published in 1743 by two of the mutineers, the gunner John Bulkeley and John Cummins, the ship's carpenter.

In 1744, the surviving members of the captain's party reached Santiago where they arranged for passage to Europe aboard a French ship. The midshipman, John Byron (1723-86), subsequently published his own account of the events in which he defended Cheap's actions. (Royal Collection Trust)


Moderate wear; hinges split, minor foxing; front exterior hinge heavily rubbed; later bookplate on front pastedown else about very good.

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