STOKES, John Lort (1811-1885)
Discoveries in Australia : with an account of the coasts and rivers explored and surveyed during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle in the years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43, by command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, also, a narrative of Captain Owen Stanley’s visits to the islands in the Arafura Sea.
London : T. and W. Boone, 1846. Two volumes, thick octavo, original blind blocked green cloth boards, spines (a little faded) with gilt lettering and gilt kangaroo and emu vignettes; hinges expertly strengthened; pp xv, 521 ; x, 543; with 8 folding engraved maps (6 in endpockets) and 26 plates (15 engraved, 11 lithographed) depicting events and scenes from the voyages and natural history specimens, the 2 page Stokes advertisement and 8 page Australian travels ad. in Volume 1, and the 4 page Siborne ad., the 8 page general ad. and the small Eyre slip in Volume 2; occasional light foxing, the plates in unusually clean state; a very good set.
Explorer and hydrographer John Lort Stokes’ account of this important series of surveying voyages in the Beagle is a cornerstone work of Australian maritime exploration.
Having joined the Beagle as a midshipman in 1824, Stokes worked his way up to become an assistant surveyor on the ship’s famous circumnavigation with Charles Darwin in 1832-36. The Beagle was then sent under Commander John Wickham to survey Australian waters, arriving in December 1837. In 1839, during a survey of the Timor Sea, Stokes was frequently entrusted with the closer examination of the coastline of northern Australia. He became the first European to observe and name the Victoria River and Port Darwin. He was speared by Aborigines at Point Pearce in December 1839, but managed to recover from his wounds. In March 1841 he succeeded Wickham in command of the Beagle, and later in that year surveyed part of the Gulf of Carpentaria, whenever possible making excursions inland. He named the Flinders and Albert Rivers, and the Plains of Promise. In December 1841, while the Beagle was off the coast of Western Australia, Stokes also carried out a survey of the area around Port Grey, a site which had been proposed for the Australind settlement.