HMS Endeavour was the ship in which James Cook undertook his explorations of the Pacific.

Originally built in 1764 as The Earl of Pembroke a supply ship (a collier) in Fishburn, Whitby England, she was 29.7metres long, with breadth of 8.9 metres and a depth of 3.4 metres. She had three masts and her hull was made of wood. She was armed with 6 4-pounder guns, and 8 swivel cannon.

The Earl of Pembroke was bought in March 1768 by the Royal Navy for conversion; to provide a vessel for Lieutenant James Cook when the Royal Society invited him to command an expedition to the Southern Hemisphere. First it was renamed HM Bark, later HMS Endeavour.

This expedition was commissioned for two purposes, firstly to establish an observatory on Tahiti and observe the transit of Venus across the sun – with the intention of improving astronomy and navigation, and secondly to discover whether “Terra Australis”, the great Southern Continent, actually existed.

There was a third aim of the voyage: the investigation, observation and discovery of natural history. This was a privately sponsored project, financed by 25 year old Joseph Banks, and as well as the navy crew, Endeavour carried a scientific party of seven men and their four servants.

She set sail from Plymouth on 25 August 1768, travelling via Madeira and Rio de Janeiro, and rounding Cape Horn in January 1769. Banks party put ashore at Tierra del Fuego, and were caught overnight in appalling conditions, resulting in two of the party’s servants, George Dorlton and Thomas Richmond, freezing to death.

Endeavour arrived at Matavai Bay, Tahiti on April 13, 1769, where she remained until the mid-July, monitoring the transit of Venus. When they left the island a Tahitian, Tupia, and his servant Tiata joined the complement, with Tupia joining the scientific group.

From Tahiti, Cook sailed southward, reaching New Zealand at the end of 1769, and spent four months exploring the coasts of North and South island, before sailing west in March of 1770.

The ship reached Australia at Botany Bay in April 1770, and sailed along the East coast of Australia. On 10 June, Endeavour hit a reef off the Queensland coast, and there was a desperate battle to keep her afloat, until repairs could be carried out. After repair and restocking, the ship left Australia in August 1770.

The journey back to England was fraught with disaster. While laid up for essential repairs in Batavia in the East Indies, malaria and dysentery ravaged the crew, killing thirty men including artist Sydney Parkinson. Until this point the only deaths had been accidental - the two frozen servants, and three drownings. A further three died between leaving the East Indies and arriving back in Britain in July 1771. The voyages were a triumph, however, both in terms of discovery and science, with the identification more than 1400 species of plant and 1000 animals previously unknown in Europe, and the charting of New Zealand and the Australian East coast.

HMS Endeavour was refitted in 1775. After this, her fate becomes murky. Some claim she served the Navy for 15 more years before possibly being purchased by the French in 1790 and renamed La Liberte: there was definitely a ship of this name sold to the French, but there is doubt as to whether it was in fact, Captain Cook's. Other reports have her moored on the Thames and acting as a receiving ship for female convicts, yet others, renamed the "Lord Sandwich" and serving as a troopship. La Liberte was finally broken up after running aground off Rhode Island in 1793, the fate of the ship on the Thames does not appear to have been recorded, and the Lord Sandwich was destroyed - again off Rhode Island - as part of a blockade to halt the advance of French and American troops in 1778.

Endeavour Crew, for the 1768-1771 Voyages of Exploration


James Cook


John Bootie
Charles Clerke
John Gore
William Harvey
Joseph Magra
Isaac Manley
Robert Molineux
Jonathan Monkhouse
William B. Monkhouse
William Perry
Richard Pickersgill
Patrick Saunders
Isaac Smith
Francis Wilkinson

ABLE SEAMEN & SEAMEN WITH ‘TRADES’ (Cooks, Carpenters etc.)

Robert Anderson
Joseph Childs
William Collett
Matthew Cox
William Dawson
Jeremiah Dozey
Sam Evans
Peter Flowers
Stephen Forwood
John Gathray
John Goodjohn
James Gray
Francis Haite
Thomas Hardman
William Howson
Richard Hughes
Richard Hutchins
Henry Jeffs
Isaac Johnson
Sam Jones
Thomas Jones
Thomas Jones (2)
Benjamin Jordan
Thomas Jordan
Thomas Knight
Michael Littleboy
Robert Littleboy
Thomas Matthews
Sam Moody
Nathaniel Morey
James Nicholson
George Nowell
Richard Orton
Isaac Parker
William Peckover
Antony Ponto
John Ramsay
John Ravenhill
John Reading
Timothy Rearden
Daniel Roberts
John Satterly
Thomas Simmonds
Alexander Simpson
Robert Stainsby
Hyram Stevens
Forby Sutherland
Robert Taylor
Edward Terrell
John Thompson
John Thurmand
James Tunley
Alexander Weir
Charles Williams
John Woodworth
Archibald Wolfe


John Bowles
Thomas Dunster
John Edgecombe
Samuel Gibson
William Greenslade
William Judge
Hyram Paul
Daniel Preston
Thomas Rossiter
John Trusslove
Clement Webb
William Wiltshire


Joseph Banks, Esq. -Leader
Herman Sporing - Secretary
Charles Green - Astronomer
Daniel Solander – Naturalist
Alexander Buchan - Artist
Sydney Parkinson - Artist
John Reynolds - Artist


Peter Briscoe
George Dorlton
Thomas Richmond
James Roberts


Drowned: 3
Frozen: 2
Died of Illness: 33


For more than a century, most people believed that HMB Endeavour had been sold to France, eventually renamed La Liberte, and then ran aground off Newport, Rhode Island in 1793. The hulk of La Liberte rotted at a Newport pier until 1828; pieces were cut off the ship and sold as souvenirs.

More recent studies confirm that La Liberte was not Endeavour after all. In 1997, Australian researchers Mike Connell and Des Liddy found that La Liberte had actually been HMS Resolution, one of the two ships which Cook took along on his second voyage.

So what happened to Endeavour herself? She appears to have gone back into the coal-carrying service. In 1998, Dr Kathy Abbass of the Rhode Island Marine Archaology Project found that in 1776, the Royal Navy brought her back into service as a troop transport under the new name Lord Sandwich. James Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, and commissioned Cook's third (fatal) voyage. Cook went so far as to name some islands after him.

In 1778, Newport was the site of one of the first French interventions in the American Revolutionary War, a joint attempt to take the city from its British occupiers. On August 8, the French attacked Newport from the sea, while American forces attacked from land.

For most of the month, Newport was under seige. But weather and an engagement with Briitish ships battered the French badly. They had to put into Boston for repairs, and the Americican besiegers had to withdraw.

However, before the actual attack, the British scuttled 13 of their troop transports and prison ships in Newport's harbor, in an attempt to block the French. While researching Royal Navy records, Dr. Abbass found that one of these ships had been named Lord Sandwich!

So, at least two of Cook's ships appear to have met their ends in Rhode Island.

Things are not yet altogether certain, however. The actual wreck of the Lord Sandwich has not yet been located. To make matters worse, in 1999, the most promising site in Newport Harbor was vandalized by treasure hunters. This last event caused the State of Rhode Island to take control of the sites in 2000.

the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project

"Archaeologists still trying to prove wreck is Endeavour", the Sydney Morning Herald, September 9, 2002

Recent Research

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - The World Today - Search for Endeavour

Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Newsletter, March 1999

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