"Bahía Botánica y Liqueyos":
Alexandro Malaspina and British designs in the Pacific1

Robert J. King

    On 10 September 1788, Captain Alexandro Malaspina addressed to Antonio Valdés, Minister of Marine, a plan for a scientific and political voyage around the world to be performed by ships of the Spanish Royal Navy.2 Among the political investigations proposed were confidential examinations of the English settlements which Malaspina believed had been established at "Bahia Botanica" in New Holland and in the "Liqueyos" — Liu Qiu, or Ryukyu Islands.3

    The proposal for an English convict settlement at Botany Bay had been extensively reported in English and European newspapers, and the departure of the First Fleet from Portsmouth had taken place in May 1787, although the settlement was actually made at Sydney Cove in the nearby Port Jackson. There had been no such extensive newspaper discussion of a proposed English settlement in the Liu Qius and, in fact, no such settlement was ever made. Apparently his reading of certain passages in Captain James King's account of the voyage he undertook under the command of Captain James Cook to the North Pacific (Cook's last voyage), and Daines Barrington's Miscellanies had led Malaspina to conclude that an English settlement there was planned.

    Barrington's Miscellanies, published in 1781, was a collection of papers on diverse matters of scientific interest, which he had prepared as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Certain to attract the interest of Spanish readers was his translation into English of Francisco Maurelle's journal of the voyage he undertook in 1775 to the North West coast of America. It also contained several "Tracts on the Possibility of reaching the North Pole", in the preface to which he urged exploration of "the coast of Corea, the Northern part of Japan, and the Lequieux Islands".4

    The authorised account by James King of the last voyage of James Cook, A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, published in May 1784, observed that the navigation of the seas between Japan and China afforded the largest remaining field for discovery.5 His description of the possibilities of the North Pacific fur trade attracted wide attention.

    These two pieces of evidence from authoritative sources—King's hinting at the commercial potential of Japan, and Barrington's specific mention of the Liu Qius—when set against other publicly available information on English projects for the North Pacific, could reasonably have led Malaspina to an inference that there were English plans for a trading establishment in the Liu Qius.

    There was only a small amount of information concerning the Liu Qius available in Europe at the time. Recueil 28 of the Lêttres Édifiantes & Curieuses published in 1768 contained an article by Antoine Gaubil, SJ, "Mémoire sur les Isles que les Chinois appellent isles de Lieou-kieou". The memoir consisted mainly of a translation Gaubil had made in 1752 at Peking of Chung-shan ch'uan-hsin lu ("Memoir on Chuzan") written by Hsu Pao-kuang
() in 1721. Hsu had been sent to Liu Qiu (the official name of the kingdom was "Chuzan") in 1719 by the Ching government to officiate in the investiture of a new king. Gaubil's memoir remained for Europeans the authoritative reference work on the Liu Qius until well into the early years of the nineteenth century.6 Of particular interest to English readers with mercantile ambitions was its brief comments on the islands' commerce:

Il y a dans toutes ces isles des manufactures de soie, de toile, de papier, d'armes, de cuivre, fer, étain & autres métaux; bon nombre de barques & de vaisseaux, non seulement pour aller d'une isle à l'autre, mais encore pour aller à la Chine, & quelquefois au Tong-king, à la Cochinchine, & dans d'autres lieux plus éloignés, en Corée, à Nanga-za-ki, à Sat-Suma, dans les isles voisines & à Formose.7     Alexander Dalrymple referred to Gaubil's Mémoire in a pamphlet he published in 1769, A Plan for extending the Commerce of this Kingdom and of the East India Company. Closely associated with the East India Company and member of the Royal Society, Dalrymple put forward the idea of using the Liu Qiu Islands for ingress into the closed market of Japan: The Lewkewo Islands.... are situated between Formosa and Japan, an account of them has been published in the Lettres edifiantes (vol.28) but the account I have received from a Chinese pilot is considerably different; he told me the Amoy junks have sometimes gone thither, but not to trade. The country abounds with cattle and goats; it has plenty of fine rice; but the natives have no commerce with the Chinese, of whom they are very jealous, confining them in the manner customary in Japan. There is a very good port, and the natives are inclined to commerce: linguists may be had from Amoy; he imagines the natives would be glad to trade with us: the country has no forts. I was informed by a Jesuit father at Macao, who had seen some people from the Lewkewos at Pekin, that.... the language is the same as the Korean. These islands are described by Kempher to governed by a prince of the Japanese empire: the Jesuits say they pay obeisance to China. The memoir in the Lettres edifiantes speaks very favourably of their vessels, in which they sometimes voyage to Tonkin and Cochin-China: if so, they may.... channel an intercourse with Japan and Korea.8     Dalrymple was referring to Engelbrecht Kaempfer's History of Japan,1690-1692, published in English translation in London in 1727, in drawing attention to the discrepancy between this source and the Jesuit priests in China concerning the status of the Liu Qius. In fact, the kingdom had been accepted as a tributary by China since 1373. This was the only form of recognition China accorded foreign states, and it had the practical advantage of enabling trade to take place under the guise of offering tribute and receiving gifts in return. In 1609 the Daimyo of Satsuma, in Southern Kyushu, had sent an invasion force to bring the Liu Qiu kingdom into subjection. However, Satsuma allowed Liu Qiu to maintain its tributary status with China, as this permitted a trading relationship to continue, and so by indirect means enabled Satsuma to get round the exclusion edicts of the Shogun's government at Edo. This complicated state of affairs, which Satsuma and their Liu Qiu vassals took elaborate measures to keep obscure, was not clearly understood by Europeans.

    The situation was referred to by John Campbell in his 1764 revision of John Harris's 1748 Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca, or Voyages and Travels:

These Islands... pass under different Names; and even at this Day we are not able to say much with any Certainty about them. Some Writers call them the Islands of Liqueios, others the Islands of Riukiu. They lie between 26 and 30° of North Latitude, having the Island of Formosa on the South-West, the Continent of China on the West, the Islands of Japan on the North, and the Ocean on the East; on which Side they seem to have no Land nearer them than America. The Japanese report, that they are the most fertile Countries in the World, and that the Inhabitants are the easiest, happiest, and best conditioned of the Human Race. They are subject to the Prince of Saxuma, who is one of the principal Lords of the Empire of Japan. It may not be amiss to observe, that the Chinese were formerly Masters of these Islands, and that at present there is some Commerce between them and the Philippines.9     Campbell strongly advocated the re-opening of British trade with Japan and Korea by establishing a trading factory on one of the islands between the two countries: Quelpart (Cheju), Tsushima or Oki.10

    The Liu Qius were discussed in a memorandum on "the Seas of Japan" dated 11 December 1774 addressed to First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich by Lieutenant John Blankett. Blankett, who had consulted John Campbell, discussed the possibilities for opening trade with North East China, Korea and the Japanese islands, and suggested:

That from any connection we might be able to form amongst the Islands in the vicinity of Japan, it would become the interest of that country to trade with us on equitable terms, as it would be in our power to cut off their communications with other Countries on which probably their principal consequence depends & all these Countries would take off vast quantities of our Manufactures & open a new & extensive branch of Commerce....Japan even under its restricted Commerce is of more value to the Dutch, than any subjected Colony Great Britain can boast of...11     His memorandum set out a summary of information on the Liu Qius, obviously drawn from Gaubil: I cannot leave this subject without giving your Lordship some account of Liu-Kiu Islands in some degree tributary both to China & Japan. They lay between Formosa & Japan & are thirty six in number, they take their name from the Capital Island which is about fifty leagues long from North to South & about six leagues from East to West. The palace of the Liu-Kiu Monarch is on the SE of the Island & is called Kint-Chin, at a small distance from which is a very good harbour called Napa-Kiang in the lattd. 26°02 N°. In all these Islands are Manufactures of Silk, Stuff, Paper, Arms, Brass &c. & they have most excellent Workmen in Gold, Silver, Brass, Iron & all other metals. They have a great number of Barks which trade from Island to Island, & likewise to China, to Corea, to Nagasaki, to Satsuma & Formosa. These Islands produce abundance of Corn, Rice & all sorts of Vegetables. The Sea & Rivers are filled with Fish of all Sorts. They have fruit in great plenty such as, Melons, Pine Apples, Oranges, Citrons, Bananas, Pease, Beans &c. The Inhabitants are affable to Strangers, Industrious, Sober & Cleanly.     On 14 March 1775, Blankett sent Sandwich another memorandum, reiterating the advantages of establishing a factory in the Liu Qius. Referring to information he had recently obtained from a Chinese informant, confirming his view that the islands were, "in some degree, The mart for the Commerce of Japan, China, Corea & the adjacent Islands", Blankett went on: I will not presume to point out to your Lordship the consequences that may attend a commercial establishment in those Islands. Was I to enumerate the advantages that arose to the Dutch from their first intercourse with Japan, I should wish to be previously in much Credit with your Lordship, or the facts which I have obtained as undoubted, would seem to border on Incredibility & appear romantic to anyone who had not considered the quick rise to opulence that attended the Commerce of Holland.12     In July 1782, Blankett wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Lord Shelburne: When I employed myself in promoting a Voyage of Discovery, the prosecution of which formed a principal part of Capt. Cook's last Mission, I received very great assistance from the late Dr. Campbell.... the Editor of Harris's Voyages. From his information I took up my first knowledge of the extensive Trade that may be carried on to the N.E. of China, the Kingdom of Corea, to the Liu Kiu's and several Islands in these Seas. Those countries laying in Northern latitudes and exposed to very severe Winters will naturally demand several articles of our Woollen Manufactures, and introduce a very beneficial branch of trade. The method in which this Commerce would best be opened (as it must be done by authority of Government) is to send a Frigate of force, to be equipped as usual for ships going to India and when ready to sail to be put under the Orders of the Secretary of State [rather than the Admiralty], that no Interference or Obstruction should be in the way.... The present is the favourable moment, as in Peace the Jealousies of other Powers would form Obstructions, and is peculiarly so, for the regaining the trade of Japan...13     John Blankett wrote again to Lord Shelburne, now Prime Minister, in December 1782 and in connection with plans for a "Chinese Embassy", he said: The Kingdom of Corea and the Islands Liu-Kiu, are comprehended in this extension of Commerce which as it leads to open new [vents?] for our own Manufactures, I think will most likely meet your Lordship's meaning on Commercial Subjects. This made a part of the Plan submitted by me to Lord Sandwich in 1773 and by him [engrafted?] on Captain Cook's last Voyage but frustrated by his death.14     The plan for Cook's voyage to the North Pacific (1776 to 1780) had in fact been laid before the Council of the Royal Society in February 1774 by Daines Barrington, although John Blankett seems to have played a significant part in its formulation. This is indicated in a letter dated 24 February 1780 to Secretary of State Lord Shelburne which Blankett wrote from Ceylon (where he was serving with the East India squadron under the command of Admiral Sir Edward Hughes): We have news from China, that the Discovery ships are arrived at Canton. Captains Cook and Clark have both died in the Expedition; Nothing of their Discoveries is spoke of. I must beg your Lordship if anything should arise of consequence from that Voyage to remember I was the proposer of it, Mr Daines Barrington having been the person who first laid my paper before the Royal Society in consequence of which they applied to my Lord Sandwich to undertake the Expedition.15     The Honourable Daines Barrington, KC, was an eminent English judge, and a member of the Royal Society of London. His eldest brother was William, Viscount Barrington, from 1765 to 1778 Secretary at War, while his younger brother was Vice-Admiral the Hon. Samuel Barrington. He used his influential position to promote maritime exploration, especially as directed towards finding the long-sought North West Passage. After studying the records of former expeditions, and collecting evidence from the masters of whalers, he submitted proposals to the Royal Society, and succeeded in 1773 in inducing the Society to lay the matter before Lord Sandwich, then First Lord of the Admiralty. The result was that the Government despatched the Racehorse and the Carcass under the command of Constantine Phipps on an attempt to find a passage to the Pacific by way of Greenland. This expedition was not successful, but Barrington was not discouraged. In February 1774 he laid before the Royal Society the plan he and Blankett had drawn up for a voyage to attempt to find a passage from the Pacific, which led to the despatch in 1776 of James Cook in command of the Discovery and Resolution on the third of his great voyages.16

    Barrington published his Miscellanies in 1781 with the aim of promoting the completion of the work of exploration left undone at the conclusion of Cook's third voyage. He wrote: "As the late geographical discoveries have given such general satisfaction, I have little doubt but that they will be further prosecuted when a peace takes place, and shall therefore here venture to throw out my poor thoughts with regard to the yet remaining desiderata for the more perfect knowledge of the planet which we inhabit."

    The agenda set out by Barrington was viewed as being that of the Royal Society, and was widely noticed in Britain and in other countries. He gave emphasis to the desirability of finding a Northern communication between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, either North West by Hudson's or Baffin's Bay, or North East by way of Novaya Zemlya. "The coast of Corea, the Northern part of Japan, and the Lequieux Islands, should also be explored," he wrote. In the Southern hemisphere, Barrington's "desiderata" were, to make a "compleat circumnavigation of New Holland", to explore the coastline of New Guinea, and to investigate the antarctic lands of Tristan da Cunha and the South Sandwich islands, than which "we scarcely know more than their Longitude and Latitude".

    John Blankett was also keen to press the case for carrying on the work of Cook, and in a letter to Prime Minister Shelburne in January 1783 he wrote:

Since we lost the trade to Japan, we have never endeavoured to recover it. Probably this may be a proper time to make the trial, which cannot be attended with any great additional expence, and may be followed by the greatest advantages; it may be engrafted on the Plan your Lordship has in contemplation of extending the Commerce of China and to those other Places I have had the honour to mention to you.17     James King's description in A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean of the possibilities of trade with Japan was well calculated the attract the attention of ambitious merchant adventurers: The Russian merchants have a still larger profit upon the furs at Kiachta, on the frontiers of China, which is the great market for them. The best sea otter skins sell generally in Kamchatka, for about thirty rubles apiece. The Chinese market at Kiachta purchases them at more than double that price, and sells them again at Pekin at a great advance, where a further profitable trade is made with some of them to Japan. If, therefore, a skin is worth thirty rubles in Kamchatka, to be transported first to Okotsk, thence to be conveyed to Kiachta, a distance of one thousand three hundred and fifty-four miles, thence to Pekin, seven hundred and sixty-miles more, and after this to be transported to Japan, what a prodigiously advantageous trade might be carried on between this place and Japan, which is but about a fortnight's, at most, three weeks sail from it?18     The extent and value of the North Pacific fur trade had been revealed to English readers by the publication in London in 1780 of An Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia and America; to which are added, The Conquest of Siberia and the History of the Transactions and Commerce between Russia and China, by William Coxe, a Senior Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. The exchange between the Russians and Chinese was conducted at annual fairs at Kyakhta, on the Siberian-Mongolian border: The furs of Kamchatka and of the Eastern Isles were then conveyed from that peninsula by water to Okotsk; from there to Yakutsk by land on horseback or by reindeer. The roads were so very bad that the journey lasted at least six weeks. At Yakutsk, the goods were embarked upon the Lena, towed up the stream, then downstream, and across Lake Baikal to the mouth of the Selenga River, and up that river to the neighbourhood of Kiakta. The Chinese transported their goods to Kiakta chiefly upon camels.19     King's description of the possibilities of the North Pacific fur trade attracted wide attention. In particular, his vivid account of the prices paid at Canton for the sea otter furs the crew had gathered on the American coast was repeatedly referred to in public discussion: One of our seamen sold his stock, alone, for eight hundred dollars; and a few prime skins, which were clean, and had been well preserved, were sold for one hundred and twenty each. The whole amount of the value, in specie and goods, that was got for the furs, in both ships, I am confident, did not fall short of two thousand pounds sterling.... The rage with which our seamen were possessed to return to Cook's River, and buy another cargo of skins, to make their fortunes, at one time, was not far off mutiny.20     An attempt to open trade with Japan as advocated by Blankett began in 1785, primarily as a result of advice given to a company of merchant adventurers by the President of the Royal Society, SirJoseph Banks. This was later described by one of the members of the company, John Etches: In 1785 a plan was submitted to your Majesty's ministry by Mr. Richard Cadman Etches, a merchant of the city of London, for prosecuting and converting to national utility the discoveries of the late Captain Cook, and for establishing a regular and reciprocal system of commerce between Great Britain, the North-west coast of America, the Japanese, Kurile and Jesso islands, and the coast of Asia, Corea, and China; the plan was warmly applauded and patronised by the ministry, by Sir Joseph Banks, Sir John Dick, and many other personages of rank and acknowledged abilities, who rendered Mr Etches every assistance in digesting and maturing the principal outlines of the undertaking. Accordingly two vessels, the King George, Captain Nathaniel Portlock, and the Queen Charlotte, Captain George Dixon, were then fitted out, and equipped in the most complete and ample manner for discovery and commerce: they were furnished, at the same time, with a number of extra seamen and artificers, with stores, ammunition, provisions, &c. for the establishment of two factories, the one in King George's Sound, and another to the northward, and for opening new commercial channels to the manufactories of Great Britain. So satisfied were the ministry with the great and public advantages of the enterprise, with the liberal equipment and extensive arrangement of the owners, that Mr Rose, Mr Steele, Sir Joseph Banks, Lord Mulgrave, and a number of other distinguished and public-spirited gentlemen, visited the ships at Deptford, spent the day convivially on board, and honoured the expedition by christening the two ships, the officers of which were dressed in full uniform; and as an emblem of so novel and enterprising an undertaking, Hope, leaning on an anchor, was painted on their colours. A license was obtained from the South-Sea Company, with full liberty to make discoveries, to erect factories, and to prosecute other commercial objects; and another license was granted by the Hon. East-India Company, for the disposal of their cargoes in China. The instructions, both public and private, delivered to the captains, were previously submitted to your majesty's ministers for perusal, and returned with the utmost approbation.21     John Etches, Nathaniel Portlock, George Dixon, and five others formed the King George's Sound Company, otherwise known as Richard Cadman Etches & Company. Richard Cadman Etches was the prime mover and principal investor. On 13 March 1785 he discussed the formation of the venture with Sir Joseph Banks, whose advice caused him and his associates to greatly broaden the scope of their venture, as he acknowledged the following day in writing: Sensible of the high honour done us yesterday by your kind offer of assistance for the maturing of our plan — and how highly important your opinion and advice must be to us, from your intimate knowledge of the parts to which our attempt will be directed — from the great encouragement you was pleas'd to give us respecting the prospect of opening a friendly Commerce with the Japanese — and from the knowledge you was pleas'd to say you cou'd procure from your friend who had made the tour of those Islands, this kind communication Sir we hold in the most valuable and flattering point of View — which not only enlarges our Present scale of the Undertaking in the most extreme degree but holds out to us a much greater degree of certainty than we cou'd conceive.... Thus, Sir, our Views from your generous patronage are raised to a degree of magnitude we had not before conceiv'd.22     Apart from any influence Blankett's advocacy may have had on his thinking, Banks had developed an interest in Japan following the visit to London in December 1778 of the Swedish botanist, Carl Peter Thunberg. Thunberg had spent the period August 1775 to December 1776 in Japan as physician to the Dutch merchants at Dejima (the tiny islet in Nagasaki bay to which the Dutch trade factory was confined). Despite the restrictions which the Japanese authorities placed on Dutch movements, Thunberg had learned Japanese and had opportunity to examine the country and collect plants. He had also accompanied the Dutch factory captain on a journey to Edo for an audience with the Shogun. He had observed a new openness on the part of the Japanese toward foreigners, and had come away from the country convinced that it would soon relax its strict seclusion policy. In London, Thunberg was introduced to Banks by his compatriot and Banks' librarian, Jonas Dryander. A letter from Thunberg to Banks was read at a meeting of the Royal Society on 10 February 1780, and published in Philosophical Transactions in Swedish and English, "Translation of a short Extract from a Journal kept by C.P. Thunberg, M.D. during his Voyage to, and Residence in, the Empire of Japan, in a letter addressed to the President".23From his conversations with Thunberg, Banks believed that the Japanese market might be opened to British traders.24

    The enthusiasm Banks, and his circle, subsequently developed for opening trade with Japan, and for using the North Pacific fur trade for this purpose, is indicated by the insertion of the following passage in the "Proposal for establishing a Settlement in New South Wales", which was drawn up under Banks' guidance by James Matra in August 1783:

The Aleutian & Foxes Islands, situated between Asia & America, & the Kuril Islands, which abound with the choicest Furs, lie nearly North of New South Wales. It is from these Islands the Russians get the most & best of their Furs, with which they carry on a very lucrative Trade, by Land with the Chinese. Our Ships that sailed under the Command of Caps. Cooke & Clerke stopped at some of them, & the Skins which they procured there, sold in China, at 400 hard Dollars each, though for the few they brought home, of the same quality, they only received about Ten Pounds each. As our situation in New South Wales would enable us to carry on this Trade, with the utmost facility, we should no longer be under the necessity of sending such immense quantities of Silver, for the different Articles we import from the Chinese Empire... There is also a prospect of considerably extending our Woollen Trade. We know that large quantities of woollen Cloth, are smuggled to Japan by the Russians, which as it is taken by land Carriage from St. Petersburgh to Kamschatka, and then to the Islands, by a very precarious Navigation in Boats must be extremely dear; the Japanese however, go in their Junks to the Islands & purchase great quantities of it.25     This idea was also expressed in An Historical Narrative of the Discovery of New Holland and New South Wales, published with the support of Banks and the Home Office in November 1786 to explain the reasons for the settlement at Botany Bay: Its situation is well adapted for carrying on a trade between Nootka sound and Cook's river, on the American coast, and the isles of Japan and the Chinese empire, in sea otters' skins; as also to perfect the discoveries which have hitherto been made in that part of the globe, a matter which the late Captain King had much at heart.26     This passage was quoted in the General Evening Post of 14-16 November 1786. The Historical Narrative illustrated this description with "A General Chart of New Holland, including New South Wales & Botany Bay, with The Adjacent Countries, and New Discovered Islands". A similar chart was published in the February 1787 issue of The Political Magazine, with the difference being that this chart extended to latitude 50° N, and so included Japan, the Kurile Islands and the North West coast of America.

    As President of the Royal Society, Banks was in a position to serve as a link between the ideas of Blankett, Barrington and Thunberg on opening trade to Japan, and the ambitions of merchant adventurers represented by Etches to turn to advantage the discoveries made in the North Pacific during Cook's third voyage. The Royal Society had in 1774 taken up the proposals developed by Blankett and Barrington, which had led to their incorporation in the plans for Cook's third voyage. The discovery made during that voyage of the importance of the fur trade as a staple in North Asian commerce, in particular with Japan, and its publicisation by James King, led naturally to the idea of using the trade in furs obtained on the North West American coast as a lever for prying open the closed door to Japan. Banks was closely involved in the publication of King's account of Cook's third voyage. When the merchant adventurers represented by Etches approached him for advice on how to exploit the resources of the North West American coast, Banks could draw to their attention the possibilities of trade with Japan, perhaps by using the indirect approach to the country of establishing a trading factory in the Liu Qius, or the islands between Japan and Korea such as Tsushima or Cheju, or even the Kurils or Yezo to the north of Japan. These outlying islands were not so closely under the control of the government at Edo, and through them some trade was already taking place between Japan and the outside world. The President of the Royal Society could serve as a natural focus for developing the scheme of a "regular and reciprocal system of commerce" with Japan based on newly established British settlements on opposite sides of the Pacific at Botany Bay and Nootka Sound, and on the already existing factories at Canton.

    At his meeting with Etches on 13 March 1785, Banks promised to write to Thunberg in Uppsala to obtain further information about prospects for trade to Japan, which he did in a letter dated 17 June 1785:

Some Merchants here are employd in fitting out Ships for the Purpose of Trading with the natives of the N:W: Coast of America for their valuable furs. They wish to attempt a trade with the natives of Japan. I think I have heard you say that the Government of Japan is so circumstancd that it is probable ships who applied to the northern Provinces which are independent of the Emperor might be receivd and admitted to trade. You would confer an Obligation of importance upon me if you would write me a letter explaining your Sentiments on that head Fully it is indifferent to me in what Language it is written. Swedish Mr. Dryander will interpret. Latin French &c. I am master of. Write only in that Language which will give you the least Trouble & give me full information... Be so good as to send an answer to the Part of my Letter which referrd to a trade with Japan as soon as you can conveniently.27     The scheme proposed by Richard Cadman Etches and his associates to the East India Company's Court of Directors on 29 April 1785 was for the Government to grant them a charter of exclusive privileges for an unspecified number of years to send two ships to trade the entire length of the North West American coast from Cape Blanco in latitude 43° 6' up to Bering Strait, with the right to establish a factory at Nootka Sound or at another convenient place as a mart for furs and other products obtainable from the natives. With such cargoes they were to be at liberty "to endeavour to open a friendly intercourse with the Islands of Japan, Jesso [Yezo, now Hokkaido], the Kuriels, and the coast of Asia from Siberia to the Gulf of Siam - ever subject to a prohibition on trading with the Chinese in any Article whatever except the produce of the said North-West Continent of America, not to return to Europe with any traffic the manufactory or produce of China."28 Making it clear that no infringement of the East India Company's chartered monopoly of trade with China was envisaged, the King George's Sound Company attached "Additional Proposals" to their submission: "The Japanese Islands would be our grand object, to open a friendly intercourse with which, we have every possible hope of attaining from holding out so great a temptation as the Sea Otter Skins, which being held in such high estimation by them, we persuade outselves it will not only do away the prejudice of Europe in general 'that the Japanese will not admit of an European commerce, except with the Dutch, and that in a very limited degree' but will open a new source of Commerce that may prove of the highest value and importance to this Country." That the Japanese market could be opened was beyond doubt, as the merchants had "received the most flattering encouragement from conversation of Gentlemen of the greatest eminence and abilities (for Knowledge of Japan) that should our attempt meet with success, it may open a very extensive and valuable source of Commerce to this Country".29

    The Court of Directors referred the proposal to the Committee of Correspondence, which called in Etches for consultation and reported back to the Directors on 6 May. Since the adventure had been considered by Government and it was thought to be in the national interest to endeavour to open such a trade, the Committee recommended that the East India Company might "with safety to themselves" give encouragement thereto as far as to license the two ships for one voyage "by way of experiment".30 Jealous of any disturbance to its monopoly of the China tea trade, the East India Company imposed very restrictive conditions on the licence, which was only issued after it had been approved on behalf of the Government by Secretary of State Lord Sydney.31 These restrictions constituted a serious hindrance to the King George's Sound Company, but they were tolerable on the assumption that the greater part of the merchants' trade would be with Japan, Korea and the islands north of Japan, and that only the proceeds of such sales would pass through East India Company hands.32 The Court of Directors of the East India Company succinctly indicated their understanding of the aims of the Etches scheme by referring to it as "an adventure to the North West Coast of America to procure furs to be disposed of at or near the Japanese islands".33

    An even more serious obstacle to the success of the venture was referred to in the license granted by the South Sea Company on 4 August 1785, which gave permission to trade on the North West Pacific coast, "to the most northerly part of America in all the territories, islands and places that are looked upon as belonging to the Crown of Spain".34 Evidently, the merchant adventurers did not anticipate any effective reaction from the Crown of Spain to their proposed trespass upon its territories.

    Portlock and Dixon set sail from Deptford in September 1785. Their instructions, reflecting the advice from Thunberg, stated:

If a factory could possibly be settled on the island of Matmi [i.e. Matsumae, or Yezo, now Hokkaido], or any other convenient island contiguous to the north part of the island of Niphon, if this could be done with safety, or even if a friendly intercourse could be opened with the natives, it would be accomplishing a great object; but this must be entirely discretional.35     The London Morning Herald of 27 August 1785 carried an article announcing the venture: A company of merchants have fitted out two ships, called the King George, and the Queen Charlotte, commanded by two favourite officers of the lamented Cook, on a commercial expedition to the North West coast of America, the islands of Japan, Kurile, the coast of Corea and China, down to Canton, from whence they are to be freighted home by the East India Company. The North West Continent discovered by Captain Cook, is upwards of 1600 miles extent of coast; the bays, sounds, harbours, and rivers, are as noble as any in the world, and abound with that most valuable of all land or marine animals, the sea otter; the skins of which the natives wear for clothing, the fur of which is the most beautiful and rich of any ever met with, and is held in the highest estimation by the Japanese, the Chinese, and at all the Courts of Asia. This valuable branch of Commerce hath hitherto been totally engrossed by the Russians, who collect them on the Islands near the Kamschatkan shores, and after carrying them from 3 to 4000 miles by their caravans, dispose of them to the Chinese, at the immense profit of 2000 per cent.... There is every probability that the present enterprize will most amply reward the adventurers, and open a new source of commercial wealth of the first consequence to this nation.     A subsequent press article described the venture's aim of opening trade to Japan: It is with pleasure we hear, that the plan for carrying on a trade with the natives of King George's Sound, on the North West coast of America, is likely to be attended with the happiest effect to this country, as the scheme of these truly patriotic adventurers is not confined to that coast only, but extended to the island of Japan, the trade of which at present, the English are totally excluded from. Should this part of the plan succeed (and both the ships which are gone on this important expedition, have a great part of their cargoes adapted for Japanese traffic) it will be of the more consequence to this nation, than any commercial establishment now existing.36     Meanwhile, British merchants in Canton and in Indian ports were using the advantage of their location to take prompt action in response to the revelation of fortunes to be made from the trade in sea otter furs. In April 1785, the 60-ton brig Sea Otter (or Harmon, her previous name) sailed from Macao for the North West coast under the command of James Hanna. The vessel was chartered by John Henry Cox, a Canton merchant, on behalf of backers in India and Canton. Hanna made a most profitable voyage, and his success on the Canton market upon his return more than fulfilled the promise held out by the experience of the crews of the Resolution and Discovery. Word of this success was sent back to England and reported in the London press on 21 September 1786: The Sea Otter, Capt. Hannah, is arrived from King George's Sound, on the West coast of America, after one of the most prosperous voyages, perhaps, ever made in so short a time. This brig, which was only 60 tons, and manned with 20 men, was fitted out in April 1785, by Capt. Mackintosh, of the Contractor, and some other gentlemen in the Company's service, as an experiment while the Captain is gone to England to procure a licence from the India Company for the carrying on this trade. Should he succeed in his application, of which I presume there is but very little doubt, I am sensible it will insure them a tremendous fortune; you will be astonished when I tell you, that the whole out-fit, with the vessel, did not cost them 1,000l. and though she was not more than one month on the coast, the furs she collected were sold at Canton for upwards of 30,000l. Had they had goods to have bartered, and had been two or three months more on the coast, Captain Hannah assured me he could have collected above 100,000l. of furs. — The beauty of these furs is beyond description, and held by the Chinese in the highest estimation: it is astonishing with what rapidity they purchased them.—Captain Hannah acquainted me that there were several sent home to England as presents; your friend Sir Joseph Banks hath two of them sent by this ship, where no doubt you will see them. — It is astonishing that this business hath not been taken up long before this directly from England, as there is a full description of it in the publication you sent me of Capt. Cook's last voyage: it is fully expected that when the astonishing value of this trade is well known in England, that the Company will send out some of their China ships to trade for furs on that coast, and to try to open a trade from Japan for the disposal of them. Should they be able to accomplish this trade it would be a great acquisition, as it would procure them vast quantities of silver and gold, and the furs would sell for 300 per cent. more than they do at China. The trade is carried on by the Chinese at an amazing advantage.37     Cox and his associates chartered Hanna for another voyage in May 1786. Hanna died during preparations for a third voyage, but in the meantime, Cox had also chartered the Lark, which left Macao under the command of William Peters in July 1786. Peters was instructed to make his passage between Japan and Korea, and to examine the islands to the north of Japan.38 After calling at Matsumae (Yezo) and Petropavlovsk, he was lost with his vessel on Mednyy Island, one of the Commander Islands.39

    Opening a trade to Japan in sea otter furs was also the aim of the venture led by John Meares on behalf of the Bengal Fur Society. On 1 Feburary 1786, Meares sailed from Calcutta in command of the Nootka, together with a companion ship, the Sea Otter, under William Tipping. They reached Nootka Sound in September and August, respectively. Tipping had went by way of Japan, where he made contact with the inhabitants. He had been ordered by Meares "to endeavour to open an amicable Intercourse with the Inhabitants of Corea or Japan, or the Islands to the North or South".40 Later, Meares explained: "I had given these Orders in consequence of some imperfect Knowledge we had obtained of a communication between the Chinese, Japanese and Coreans. Those Empires being at Hostility with each other, the only Communication carried on between them was through the Islands lying in those Seas".41 The venture was reported in The Whitehall Evening Post of 22 September 1786:

Recent letters from Bengal.... advise, that a subscription was entered into at Calcutta to the amount of eighty thousand pounds, for the purpose of carrying on a fur trade from Kamschatka and the opposite coast of America to China and the East-Indies, pursuant to the plan of the late Capt. Cooke and his associate circumnavigators; in consequence of which two ships of 250 tons each, had sailed on that trade from Calcutta on the first day of February last, under the command and direction of Capt. Meares, a native of Dublin.42     The General Evening Post of 1 February 1787 carried a report from St Petersburg dated 19 December 1786, which presumably referred to the Lark, under Peters, and the Sea Otter, under Tipping: Accounts are received from Capt. Ismayloff, Governor of Kamtschatka, that two armed ships, under English colours, from the coast of America, with a cargo of furs, were put into the island of Metmi [Matsumae, i.e. Yezo]; that on their arrival they were not allowed to land or even traffic for fresh provisions, but after making the Prince some valuable presents of European articles, they had entered into a league of friendship with him for the carrying on a traffic with the Japanese for the disposal of their cargoes, which chiefly consisted of furs; that before the sloop which brought the intelligence sailed from Metmi, they had made several voyages to the Coast of Japan, and met with great success; that they were preparing to leave some of their people on the island, to whom the Prince had promised protection; and had actually betrothed one of his daughters to the supercargo who was to be left on the island as commander of the party, for the carrying on a correspondence with the Japanese and Kurile islands.43     The independent merchants, John Henry Cox and his partner, Daniel Beale, based at that time in Canton/Macao, had an interest in Meares' voyage.44 Upon returning to Macao, Meares formally enlisted their financial support and, as the "Merchant Proprietors", they issued him with instructions dated 24 December 1787. On 20 January 1788, Meares sailed again for the North West coast in the Nootka (now sailing under Portuguese colours to avoid East India Company restrictions and renamed the Felice Aventureira). As Tipping had been lost with the Sea Otter, his new consort was the Iphigenia Nubiana under William Douglas. Meares, Tipping and Douglas, like Portlock and Dixon, were half-pay naval officers. Cox was compelled by the East India Company to leave Canton in early 1788 and returned to England. He was apparently the author of an article, "New Fur Trade" published in The World, 6 and 13 October 1788, and The European Magazine for November 1788. The article referred to Meares' departure for the North West coast in January 1788 in the following terms: The exclusive privilege granted to a Society in England, having prevented all expeditions to the N.W. coast from any of the British settlements in the East, two coppered vessels, the Nostra Signora de Felix Aventura e Discoverto, of 200 tons, and the Nostra Signora de Bom Successo, of 100 tons, were fitted out by an enterprising Portuguese Merchant of Macao. These vessels sailed from the Typa in the month of January 1788, commanded by English officers who had served in the former expeditions to that coast.     Meares set out his commercial aims in the preface to his Voyages Made in the Years 1788 and 1789 from China to the North West Coast of America (London, 1790). He pointed to Japan and Korea as potential markets for British woollens and manufactures, observing that, as in China, in the absence of wool, the inhabitants of these cold climates had to clothe themselves with less effective garments of padded cotton. Like Blankett, he spoke enviously of the four ships a year the Dutch were allowed to send from Batavia to Nagasaki as an exclusive privilege. Referring to Tipping's contact with Japan, he said that it proved "in the fullest manner, that the inhabitants would gladly enter into a trading intercourse with us". He and his associates had been assured, "from very respectable authority," that furs sold there "at an immense price", and it was more than probable that a commercial intercourse with the country would prove highly advantageous to Britain. Noting (like Campbell and Dalrymple) that the Chinese engaged in a profitable traffic between the Philippines and Japan in the South, he concluded: If a British settlement could be established on one of the Southernmost of the Corean isles, it would facilitate the intercourse between Great Britain and these parts of the globe. Nor would the difficulty of compleating such a plan occasion any uncommon risk, or demand more than common exertions; as we are given to understand that the natives are a mild, humane, and polished race of people, who would not hesitate to give the British voyager a most welcome reception. The practicability of such a colony, need not require any other argument, when it is known that on the northernmost of these islands the Russians have formed a settlement.45     By "the Corean isles", Meares was probably referring to the Liu Qius; on the authority of Dalrymple, he would have believed that the language of the islands was Korean. However he may, following Harris/Campbell, have been referring to Tsushima, Cheju or Oki.

    Meares explained his hopes regarding trade with Japan in testimony before the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade, which he gave on 27 May 1790. In answer to a question on what prospect he believed he had of opening a trade in furs and other articles of commerce with Japan, Meares replied:

The prospect arises from the Information we received in China of the value of these Furs in Japan; and we received the like Information from the Governor of Chinsura, who was chief of the Dutch Factory in Japan for Ten years. We meant to have gone in our own ships with them to Japan.     When asked if he had any reason to suppose that he would be permitted by the government at Japan to trade in their territories, Meares answered: We had, for we conceive the Empire of Japan to consist of a number of Islands. The great Island Niphon is under the immediate inspection of the existing Government, but the other surrounding Islands are under the command of great Lords who are nearly independant of the the principal Government. We received Information of the nature of this Commerce principally from Manilla, from whence a considerable commerce is now carried on to these Japanese Islands, in China Junks, by the people of the Philippine Islands, subjects of the Spanish Government, who go in these Junks dressed in the Habits of the Philippine Islands. We know of no European Ships that have of late Years gone to these Islands, except Dutch, but we had so much confidence in the probability of opening a Trade with these Islands that we were determined to fit out a Ship laden with these American Furs and with European Manufactures and to have sent her to the Japanese Islands. We have understood that English Broad Cloth, sold by English Merchants in China, is frequently carried from thence to the Japanese Islands and there re-sold at a very advanced Price.... We give no credit to, but ascribe to interested motives the Reports that are spread of the personal aversion of the Japanese to Trade with the Europeans.... We understood that the people of these Islands were very wealthy and knew we possessed those Articles of which they were in want, and therefore we expected to carry on a very lucrative Commerce with them.46     The Governor of Chinsura, to whom Meares referred, was Isaac Titsingh. Titsingh was Opperhoofd or Captain at Dejima twice between 1779 and 1783, and became an ardent Japanophile as a result of the personal friendships which the relaxed atmosphere prevailing at that time allowed him to develop with eminent Japanese. Almost unique among the Dutch at Dejima, he gained some facility with the Japanese language. One of his Japanese friends was Shimazu Shigehide (), the Daimyo of Satsuma and overlord of the Liu Qius. When Titsingh left Japan in 1783 he carried with him, as had Thunberg, the strong impression that the country might soon abandon its policy of seclusion. He subsequently became captain of the Dutch factory at Chinsura in Bengal (near Calcutta), where he had frequent contact with English friends, to whom he communicated his views on Japan. He was the source for the author of an unsigned memorandum written in Calcutta in 1788 proposing that the proposed British ambassador to China also be sent to Japan: where I understand there is every reason to apprehend he will be well received from the Japanese Administration being perfectly relieved from the Apprehensions of the Christian Religion being again imposed or renewed by granting a free Commerce to the other European Nations as the Dutch who reside in Japan are no longer under the restraints imposed upon them about the beginning of this Century specified in Kempfer's relation, but at present enjoy the most liberal Encouragement and enlargement from their former fetters. This information I have from Mr. Titching the present Governor of Chinsurah who resided there many years.47     The tenor of Titsingh's views is revealed in Illustrations of Japan, compiled from his papers and published after his death: The eyes of the better informed had been long fixed on Tonoma-yamassiro-no kami, son of the ordinary counsellor of state Tonomo-no-kami, uncle to the Djogoun, a young man of uncommon merit, and of an enterprising mind. They flattered themselves that when he should succeed his father, he would as they expressed it, widen the road. After his appointment to be extraordinary counsellor of state, he and his father incurred the hatred of the grandees of the court by introducing various innovations, censured by the latter as detrimental to the welfare of the empire. He was assassinated on the 13th of May, 1784, by Sanno-Sinsayemon, as related in my Annals of Japan. This crime put an end to all hopes of seeing Japan opened to foreigners, and its inhabitants visiting other countries. Nothing more, however, would be required for the success of such a project, than one man of truly enlightened mind and of imposing character.48     Tonomo-no-kami, to whom Titsingh referred, was Tanuma Okitsugu (), the chief minister of the Shogun Ieharu from 1760 to 1786. Titsingh's (and Thunberg's) stay in Japan took place when the government of the country was effectively in his hands. He began a cautious relaxation of the policy of national seclusion which had been followed since 1639 when he became aware of the importance of the clandestine trade which was being carried on with the Russians in the Kuril Islands and with the Chinese through Sakhalin. The situation in the northernmost reaches of the Japanese empire was similar in some respects to that in the Liu Qius, insomuch as the Tokugawa Shogunate exercised only a tenuous sway over the Daimyo of Matsumae who controlled Yezo (Hokkaido) and adjacent islands, which allowed the trade to be carried on in quiet defiance of edicts issued in Edo. Although Matsumae made strenuous efforts to hide the trade from the Edo government, knowledge of it did leak out, but the reaction of Tanuma was to see the approach of the Russians from Kamchatka along the Kurils as an opportunity to begin to develop foreign trade. In pursuance of this policy, Tanuma sent a commission of inquiry to investigate at first hand conditions in Yezo, the Kurils and Sakhalin. He also promoted an expansion of the trade with the Dutch at Dejima, and allowed freer contact between the Dutch merchants there and Japanese scholars.

    Conditions changed greatly In Japan after Titsingh's departure. In 1783 the volcano of Mount Asama erupted, with catastrophic effects on the climate, leading to a failure of crops and widespread famine. Tanuma's reformist government was blamed for the natural disasters and famine. His rivals were powerful, for he had risen against the odds from the lowest ranks of the samurai to the highest offices through the personal favour of the Shogun. The death of the Shogun Ieharu in 1786 meant the downfall of Tanuma and his replacement by Matsudaira Sadanobu
(), a member of a collateral branch of the Tokugawa family and a firm believer in the time-sanctioned policies of his ancestors. Tanuma's policies were comprehensively repudiated, including his plans for trade with the Russians in the northern islands. The Dutch trade at Dejima was restricted to one ship a year, and personal contacts between the Dutch and Japanese were again prohibited under severe penalties.49 News of these developments took a long time to seep out of Japan through the Dutch factory at Dejima, and meanwhile British merchants proceeded with their plans on the basis of the information obtained from Thunberg and Titsingh.

    Richard Etches wrote to Banks on 17 July 1788, seeking further assistance from him. Portlock and Dixon had made a successful voyage to the North West coast, but had been unable to form a permanent trading factory as intended because "the Captains found on their arrival, their Powers of Government were not competent to the task—nor cou'd they form any Establishment with a certainty of it ever being prosperous, because they had not the Powers to form any real government for regulating the People". He reaffirmed "our Intention is to adopt a Permanent system of Commerce direct from this Country to the N.W. Coast and from thence to the Asiatic Coast, and Islands", and made it clear that he saw the importance of the venture as going well beyond the private interests of merchants. He confessed his hope of establishing a settlement on the North West coast, "not only as an Individual, but a National attempt", and sought Banks' support in obtaining government protection: "Government having adopted the measure of Colonizing with Convicts, I shou'd presume the same wou'd hold good with forming an establishment on the N.W. Continent of America or Islands, equally with New Holland."50

    Banks responded to Etches that the expense of establishing a convict settlement on the North West coast would forbid its consideration by government, and on 20 July Etches wrote again to Banks, outlining his plans, reiterating the national importance of his proposal, and insisting that government protection was essential to its success. He concluded: "A foundation thus laid, and as it is no longer to be doubted but there are plenty of furs to be met with, a market for their disposal wou'd be the whole to seek for, the opposite shores afford ample field, and I am perfectly satisfied that the Japan Islands may be attempted with success". Referring to Tipping's voyage in the Sea Otter, he continued, "I understand that a Country Ship [a private trader from India] sail'd thro' the Archipelago, and even landed on the Island of Nyphon, and that the Natives behav'd very friendly, tho' our first Ships have not made the attempt, owing to the Season being too far advanc'd - I am determin'd the rest shall".51

    The "first Ships" to which Etches referred were the King George and the Queen Charlotte. Subsequently, the King George's Sound Company had sent two more ships, the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal, under the command respectively of Cook veteran James Colnett and Charles Duncan (both half-pay Royal Navy lieutenants). With John Etches in the Prince of Wales as supercargo, they left London on 25 September 1786. They spent the summers of 1787 and 1788 on the North West coast, and by 13 November 1788 were at Macao. There, on 23 January 1789, they entered into a partnership with Meares and his associates, Cox and Beale, forming the "Associated Merchants of London and India Trading to the Northwest Coast of America". The new consortium purchased a 120 ton snow, named her the Argonaut, and placed her under the command of Colnett. The Argonaut left Macao on 25 April 1789 for Nootka Sound, to establish a trading factory there. Upon her arrival, on 5 July she and her consorts, the Princess Royal sloop and the locally-built cutter Northwest American, were seized and Colnett arrested in the name of the King of Spain and the Indies by Estéban José Martínez, the commander of the Spanish presidio which had been established there to forestall its occupation by the Russians or English.52

    Upon receiving an account of the Spanish seizure of the Argonaut from his brother, John, Richard Etches wrote to Banks on 6 May 1790, saying:

I am favour'd by my brother with an Account of the arrival of Captain Meares from Canton, who brings official Accounts of the seizure of all our Ships, Craft and the whole of the Establishment on the N W Coast by a Spanish Admiral, what pretensions they can have to such a Act, I am as yet a stranger - except it is that monstrous, and absur'd, claim which they set up in the last Century "An exclusive right to the Navigation, Territories and Commerce of that quarter of the Globe"— When the Spanish Admiral arriv'd - we had founded the principles of a permanent, and regular System of Commerce, on a wide and extensive Scale, there was every prospect of our accomplishing of the long wish'd for object, the Opening an intercourse with the Japanese Islands for the Sale of our Furs, and American produce.53     An article in The Whitehall Evening Post of 8 May 1790 reminded readers of the objectives of the Etches-Meares venture: A new source of commerce to the kingdom of Japan had been meditated in consequence of Mr. Mears's residence in China, and the traffic of his ships. For this purpose he was preparing to proceed to Nagasaqui, the principal port of Japan, with a cargo suited for the trade to that country; which, had it been suffered to be carried into effect, would have been a most important object, and have afforded a considerable consumption for our own manufactures. The Japanese Empire is an immense tract of country; and, before Mr. Mears left China, certain accounts had been received there of the importation of English Woollens into Japan by the Chinese, as well as of the Sea Otters skins that had been brought to Canton by the English vessels employed in the trade to Nootka. It was therefore intended to forestall the Chinese in this traffic, and to carry it on in English bottoms, which has been prevented by this seizure of the Spaniards.     Meares stated in his Voyages that he and his fellow venturers had intended to send a ship to Japan from Canton in 1790, "had not the North Western commerce been interrupted, and for a time at least, destroyed by the ships of his Catholic Majesty".

    The Spanish seizure of Colnett's ships provoked the British Government to extend that protection to the North West fur trade for which Etches had pleaded. Home Office Under-Secretary Evan Nepean drafted a letter to the Admiralty in early February 1790, outlining the Government's response to the events at Nootka Sound, saying "His Majesty has judged it highly expedient that measures should instantly be taken for affording protection to such of His.... Subjects as may have already proceeded to that part of the American Continent".54 In the plans drawn up under Nepean's direction, the New South Wales settlement was assigned the role foreshadowed for it of assisting the North Pacific fur trade. Instructions were drawn up for Governor Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson to supply a detachment of marines and convict workers — thirty persons altogether, with stores — to an expedition whose object would be to form a settlement on the North West coast, which would "lay the foundation of an establishment for the assistance of His Majesty's subjects in the prosecution of the Fur trade from the North West Coast of America".55 The proposed expedition was to consist of three ships, two of which, the Gorgon and Discovery, were to go first to Port Jackson. The Gorgon was already preparing to go there with new troops and stores for the colony, and the Discovery was readying for a voyage of exploration to the South Atlantic. From Port Jackson, these two ships were to proceed to Hawaii, where they would rendezvous with a frigate sent from India, from whence all three would proceed under the command of the frigate captain to the American coast. The employment of convicts as settlers was given legality by a new Act for enabling his Majesty to authorise his governor or lieutenant governor of such places beyond the seas, to which felons or other offenders may be transported, to remit the sentences of such offenders. The legislation was referred to in The Gazetteer of 8 May 1790:

By the bill passed into law this Session, the Settlement of Botany Bay may be made useful in case of a rupture. The Governor is empowered to remit the remaining term of the sentence of such persons as shall behave well. Under this Act he may therefore embark a number of them on board King's ships, and make them act as soldiers on any adventure.56     The Gorgon and Discovery were on the point of departure from England at the end of April 1790 when John Meares arrived there claiming to have already established a settlement at Nootka Sound. Accepting Meares' claim, the British Government now viewed the Spanish action at Nootka as a much more serious breach of international law.57 The proposed expedition was cancelled and the Pitt Government decided to send an ultimatum to Madrid, backed by the mobilisation of the entire fleet. Events moved toward an international crisis, threatening an oubreak of a general European war. This crisis lasted until October 1790, when a convention settling the issues of Pacific navigation and settlement was signed between Great Britain and Spain.

    Upon his release in Mexico from Spanish custody following the end of the crisis between Britain and Spain, Colnett returned to Macao with the Argonaut and its cargo of furs, where he arrived in May 1791. There he found that the Chinese government had since 13 March imposed a total prohibition on the importation of sea otter pelts. The Chinese action had been taken "on the supposition that all skins from North America were from the Russian Dominions, the two empires being in disagreement".58 The prohibition was to last until 1 June 1792. Colnett and his backers, Cox and Beale, decided to pursue the original object of the King George's Sound Company, which Portlock and Dixon had failed to accomplish, but which had been re-affirmed when the partnership had been formed with Meares, i.e. "the Opening an intercourse with the Japanese Islands for the Sale of our Furs and American produce". Beale's sailing orders for Colnett stated:

The Prohibition to the Importation of Sea Otter Skins into this Kingdom [i.e. China] is an event which no Human Prudence could have foreseen, or guarded against the consequence of. And I hope, whatever may be the ultimate loss to your owners from this unexpected prohibition, that there is not an Individual among them but will rejoice should it become a means of opening a new branch of commerce to their country; and you will have at least a satisfaction in reflecting that you was entrusted with the Command of the only British Vessel that has for this Century visited the Kingdom of Japan for the purpose of opening a trade upon honourable and liberal terms... I consider Japan as the most probable place at which you will meet sale for your Cargo of Sea Otter Skins, as there is great reason to conclude that a considerable part of those hitherto Imported into this kingdom, have been exported from the Northern Ports to Japan, but as the Accounts we have of that kingdom render it very doubtful whether European Ships of any other Nation than the Dutch would be receiv'd into their Ports, I think it most eligible for you to proceed hence Direct to the Island of Tsusima (called also Tai-la-tao) that Island being represented, in Harris's description of Corea, as belonging to the Coreans and resorted to by the Japanese for the purpose of Trading with them.59     Colnett left Macao on 26 July for Japan. He attempted to make port at Nagato and five other places along the western coast of Kyushu and Honshu, but the Japanese authorities were inflexible in refusing entry. His final attempt to make port was on 17 August, and he recorded his experience in his journal: As I drew near the Village, discovered an opening which promis'd a Harbour, form'd by an isle. This Inlet I push'd for; but when near the mouth of it a number of Boats came out, and among the rest, two arm'd ones who insisted on my Immediately going to sea. One of the arm'd Boats lay me athwart hawse, as if to cut my Cables If I attempted to anchor; the other remain'd along side, and another lay to at a small distance which I took to arm'd also. I wore as desired, and requested them to let me Anchor. At that time there was 46 fathoms water and a very small distance from the Shore. I informed them by signs I wanted water, and they Supplied me immediately with what they had in their Boats. But to my other entreaties shut their Eyes and Stopt their Ears, by which I understood their Orders were to be both deaf and Blind, to all I could say.60     Colnett returned to Macao, where he arrived in November 1791, having called at the island of Chusan on the way. He recorded in his journal his conclusions respecting the probability of a trade being carried on to advantage with Japan, Korea and the North West coast of America: To ensure Success the Vessel must be well mann'd, and of force to command respect, circumstances which have great weight with those people, for I too sensibly felt how cheap I was held, for not enjoying such advantages.... The Japanese and Corean trade is too doubtful and hazardous an Undertaking for two or three Merchants to Enter into, nor should it be thought on without an exclusive privilege to the trade granted by Charter.61     John Blankett was also at Macao in early 1791, having come in command of HMS Leopard escorting the China fleet during the crisis with Spain over Nootka. He sent a letter to Admiralty First Lord Chatham dated 9 April 1791, in which he said: An Adventurer, by the name of Douglass who was concerned in the business of Nootka Sound, has sailed lately from Macao, in a schooner. He was with me several times. He has made some discoveries on the NW Coast of America.... He means to prosecute his discoveries & to collect furs as he goes on, & failing of success in finding a passage, he will go to some Islands in the vicinity of Japan to which the Japanese are said to trade, & by their means introduce himself, or his Furs to the notice of the Japanese. There can be little doubt that much may be done by way of Commerce in those Seas, & I cannot but lament that the introduction is left to such persons as may give rise to many prejudices against us, which it may not be easy to get the better of in future.62     William Douglas, who had taken Tipping's place as Meares' partner in 1787, in 1788 and 1789 had sailed to the North West coast in command of the Iphigenia. Apparently he, like Colnett, in the face of a closed Chinese market, had decided to attempt Meares' original object, the Japanese market, but before he could do so, he died on board his new vessel, the Grace, on the return passage from Hawaii to China.63 Blankett obviously was still of the opinion that an official embassy from the British to the Japanese government was required to open commercial relations. This opinion was shared by James Colnett: all Nations improve by commerce which I have every reason to believe will soon be extinded to Corea and Japon where a great Call for furs will happen, when at Corea and Japon myself I found that aversion to Europeans greatly diminished, which had existed since that dreadfull massacre in 1622 when Europeans of all Nations except Holland were put to death.... an Embassy to Japon might open that trade much sooner than is believed.64     Alexander Dalrymple added his voice to the call for an embassy to Japan in a memorandum dated 23 February 1791: There is indeed great reason to suppose a beneficial intercourse might be opened with Japan.... yet is it likely that an illiterate adventurer in a chance ship should be the most proper person to renew our intercourse with a people so scientific and well informed?65     The consensus on the desirability of an embassy to Japan bore fruit when Lord Macartney's ambassadorial instructions were signed by Secretary of State Henry Dundas on 8 September 1792: they included letters of credence to the Emperor of Japan, to be executed after Macartney completed his mission to China. His instructions, reflecting the advice received from Titsingh, stated: It is possible that you may find it either necessary or expedient to touch upon the Coast of Japan. That Country produces Tea as good as, and probably cheaper than, that of China. The difficulties of trading there, which have so long deterred other nations from attempting it, are now said to be almost ceased.66     Banks was closely involved in the organisation of the embassy, both as President of the Royal Society and as a member of the Privy Council for Trade and Plantations. He also provided the embassy with a "Note relative to the method of bringing to England seeds from China & Japan in a state of vegetation", and "A list of curious plants, natives of China and Japan, wished to be obtained from thence"; together with copies of his recently published Icones selectae Plantarum quae in Japonia collegit et delineavit Engelbertus Kaempfer.67

    Upon reaching Tientsin in July 1793, Macartney gave instructions to Captain Sir Erasmus Gower, commanding HMS Lion, one of the two ships which carried the embassy, for a reconnoitring voyage to Japan. Gower was to proceed to Edo, where he was to deliver a letter to the "Cubo, or Temporal Sovereign of that Country" ( the term Kaempfer used for the Shogun). Nautical observations were to be made and the opportunity taken of observing how far Japanese needs might lead them to purchase any British manufactures and whether in that case the country afforded any primary products (apart from copper) which might profitably be imported into England. Gower would soon be able to ascertain whether the Japanese entertained that marked aversion to all foreigners which had been attributed to them formerly by persons "who might indeed have been influenced in their accounts by a desire of deterring us". The lack of a Japanese interpreter would make it difficult for Gower to conduct specific negotiations with that Court, but for the purpose of this preliminary encounter three individuals were being sent who spoke Chinese and Malay.68 As soon as a reply was received from the Japanese Sovereign, or if no reply had come after a fortnight, Gower was to sail for Manila, where he might find some individuals who had been to Japan and had learned the language. If the services of such a person could be secured Macartney was ready to pay him handsomely: he would be "a vast acquisition in the event of my going to execute my commission of Embassador to the Emperor of Japan". In conclusion, Macartney said: "It will give me additional satisfaction, if it should so happen that you could see and gain information also as to .... the eastern part of the island of Formosa ... the several smaller islands to the eastward of Formosa, and the Lukay Islands [Liu Qius] to the Southward of Corea."69

    In the event, Gower's crew were too sick to undertake the voyage to Japan and the Philippines before Macartney rejoined the ships at Canton on 19 December 1793. During his journey from Peking, Macartney had encountered two young men who had been sent by the King of Liu Qiu to China on an official mission. The meeting prompted Macartney to record in his journal: "If circumstances will permit, I think it may be worth while to explore these Lieu-kieu islands."70 From Canton, he wrote to Dundas on 23 December expressing his continuing belief in the desirability of a mission to Japan:

Japan appears the only place capable of supplying Tea to any considerable amount in case of failure in the quantity or exorbitancy in the price of that article from China, until we can have plantations of it in Bengal. In the meantime the expediency of attempting an intercourse with the Japanese subsists in its full force. Tho from the conversations I had at Batavia with a Dutch Gentleman of a very liberal disposition who was several years resident in Japan [Isaac Titsingh], I collected nothing that could induce me to depend on a favorable reception there, I learned nothing to deter me from the trial.71     His hopes of being able to proceed to Japan were ended by the confirmation at Canton of the news he had received in Peking of the outbreak of war with France the previous February, and consequently of the vulnerability of his ships to attack by French cruisers operating from Batavia. He also received there a letter written from Batavia on 4 November 1793 by Isaac Titsingh, informing him that a change in the Shogun's administration, together with the failure of the rice crop over successive years throughout Japan and consequent famine, rendered the timing for a voyage of commercial diplomacy to that country unpropitious.72 On 23 December, Macartney recorded his conclusion in his journal: "I have given up my projected visit to Japan, which (though now less alluring in prospect) has always been with me a favourite adventure as a possible opening of a new mine for the exercise of our industry and the purchase of our manufactures".73

    The calls by James King and Daines Barrington for exploration of "the seas between Japan and China" and "the coast of Corea, the Northern part of Japan, and the Lequieux Islands" were finally heeded in 1796-97, when Captain William Broughton, commanding His Majesty's frigate Providence, undertook such a survey as part of a voyage of exploration on the seas and coasts of North East Asia. He later explained: "It should be remembered that, in the third volume of Cook's last work, Captain King observes that the navigation of the seas between Japan and China afforded the largest field for discovery; and the survey of this part of the North Pacific Ocean was particularly recommended by the Honourable Daines Barrington, in his Miscellanies".74 In May 1797, the Providence was wrecked on a reef near the island of Miyako in the southern Liu Qius. The crew were saved and the survey continued in an accompanying schooner Broughton had purchased at Macao prior to coming to the Liu Qius. In June he was at Naha, the main port on Okinawa, of which he remarked: "The port is convenient for commerce, and seems to be the centre of trade between Japan and the Southern Islands. They also trade to China and Formosa".75 Despite Broughton's inviting description, the war with France forbade any further official interest by Britain in the Liu Qius, and Royal Navy ships did not return to them until 1816.

    The failure of Colnett and Douglas to gain admission to Japan in 1791 marked the end of attempts by British private merchants to seek entry to that market. Even in 1785 there had been doubters. The Daily Universal Register of 24 September 1785 carried an article which commented sourly:

The project of establishing colonies on the North West parts of America, though it seems at present to be the favourite topic of the people of England, must be considered indeed as truly chimerical. In arriving at this remote part, and returning back, a voyage of more than the circumnavigation of the globe must be made, and without numerous colonies, that country could not ever be cultivated, or its trade worth pursuing.... The Russians are the only people that can form settlements in these quarters, and derive essential benefit from the same. As to the sea otter skins that abound in the these parts, they may indeed turn out to great profit, but they could not possibly be procured in such abundance, as to compensate the risque and expence of such voyage.     Time showed that the only ones to make a long-term profit in the trade in sea otter pelts were the Russians. Their hunters crossed from Kamchatka to the Aleutians, gradually making their way across to the Alaskan mainland. The Russians had an inlet to the Chinese market through the frontier town of Kyakhta, and a direct link from there with Peking. The Russian home market provided a useful back-up to the trade.76

    On 24 March 1787, after the return of one of the first vessels to obtain a cargo of pelts on the North West coast (belonging to the Madras merchant, James Strange) the East India Company supercargoes at Macao reported:

We are sorry to observe that the hopes entertained of deriving some considerable Supply from the Fur Trade to the North West Coast of America are likely to prove delusive: there is no demand here for a large Quantity, & they appear to have been chiefly indebted to their Scarcity for the value which has sometimes been put upon them.77     By the time Malaspina's two ships, the Descubierta and Atrevida reached Peru, if not before, he understood that any ideas the English may have had regarding the Liu Qius were far from becoming a reality, and the "Liqueyos" were quietly dropped from the revised expedition itinerary which he forwarded to Madrid from Callao in September 1790.78 During the course of the expedition he took a close interest in English activity in the Pacific, particularly in the North Pacific fur trade. His investigations resulted in a report he sent to the Viceroy of Mexico, the Conde de Revillagigedo, from Acapulco in October 1791, which was subsequently updated and incorporated into his "Reflexiones políticas sobre las Costas ocidentales de la America…"79 He observed that Colnett had arrived in the Argonaut at Macao in May 1791 with a great quantity of sea otter furs, just at the moment when the Chinese Emperor's edict prohibiting their importation entered into force. The consequent surprise of the owners of the Argonaut could be imagined, wrote Malaspina, and after having vainly exhausted all means of obtaining permission to sell the cargo in Canton, they sent Colnett with her to Japan, "from whence however she returned without having succeeded in selling a single pelt".

    English ventures into the North Pacific fur trade were succinctly summarized by Arcadio Pineda, one of Malaspina's officers, in the observations he compiled during the expedition's stay at Port Jackson in New South Wales in March-April 1793:

the late speculations which Capt. King hinted at with such confidence, opened their eyes and all England beheld with surprise the trade in Otters as a resource capable of repairing all their losses; but this phosphor disappeared very soon, and overwhelmed by its own weight retained an ephemeral life until the late prohibition in Canton occurred to exterminate it.80

1 First presented at Malaspina '93: Alessandro Malaspina e la sua spedizione scientifica (1789-1794), Congresso Internazionale, nel bicentenario della massima impresa di Alessandro Malaspina, tenutosi a Mulazzo, Castiglione del Terziere e Lerici dal 24 al 26 settembre 1993.
Revised text courtesy of Robert King, February 2001.

2 The plan was signed jointly by Malaspina and Captain José de Bustamante, but had been developed by Malaspina. "Plan de un viage cientifico y politico a el rededor del mundo, remitido a el Exmo. Sr. Baylio Fray Antonio Valdez de Madrid en 10 de Sept. de 1788", Museo Naval (Madrid), MS 1826:3-5; printed in La Expedición Malaspina, 1789-1794, Tomo I, Ricardo Cerezo Martínez, editor, Circunstancia histórica del viaje, Barcelona, Museo Naval, Ministerio de Defensa y Lunwerg Editores, 1987, pp.138-9.

3 Liu Kiu" or "Great Liu Kiu" in its many variant spellings ( Japanese "Ryukyu"—no other place name has been transliterated in so many different ways) was in the Eighteenth Century the Chinese name for the island of Okinawa: the name is now used for the whole archipelago.

4 Daines Barrington, Miscellanies, London, Nichols, 1781.

5 Vol.III, pp.434-8.

6 French explorer Lapérouse referred to Gaubil when he sailed through the archipelago in July 1787, recording in his journal: "d'aprés les details du Pére Gaubil sur la grande isle de Likeu, capitale de toutes les isles à l'orient de Formose, je seroit asses porté à croire que les Européens y seroient reçus et trouveroit peut être à y faire un commerce aussi avantageux qu'au Japon" ("following the details of Father Gaubil on Great Liu Chiu, capital of all the islands to the east of Formosa, I am very taken with the belief that Europeans would be received there and would perhaps find there a commerce as advantageous as that to Japan"); Journal de Lapérouse, John Dunmore & Maurice de Brossard, Le Voyage de Lapérouse, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1985, Vol.II, p.291.

7 "In all these isles there are manufactures of silk, cloth, paper, arms, copper, iron, tin and other metals; a good number of ships and vessels, not only for going from one isle to another, but even for going to China, and sometimes to Tongking, Cochin China, and to other more distant places, in Korea, to Nagasaki, Satsuma, in the neighbouring islands, and to Formosa." Gaubil's Mémoire was re-published in 1781 (Tome XXIIIme), p.225.

8 pp.93-4.

9 Bk.I, Chap.II, p.686, note n.

10 Bk.III, Chap.III, "A curious and concise account of the Kingdom of Corea", footnote on p.1009. Campbell drew his information from Kaempfer.

11 National Maritime Museum (Greenwich), Sandwich Papers, Montagu F/5/38; cited in Margaret Steven, Trade, Tactics and Territory, Melbourne, Melbourne UP, 1983, p.25.

12 Sandwich Papers, Montagu F/6/29; cited in Alan Frost, "British Ambitions and the Western Coasts of the Americas, 1763-1793", Robin Inglis (ed.), Spain and the North Pacific Coast, Vancouver Maritime Museum Society, 1992.

13 Britain being in a state of war with Holland at the time. Shelburne correspondence, Bowood House, Wilts, B.37; quoted in Howard T. Fry, "The Commercial Ambitions Behind Captain Cook's last Voyage", The New Zealand Journal of History, vol.7, no.2, 1973, pp.186-191.

14 Shelburne correspondence, quoted in Fry, p.189.

15 Shelburne correspondence, B,37; quoted in Howard T. Fry, "The Commercial Ambitions Behind Captain Cook's last Voyage", The New Zealand Journal of History, vol.7, no.2, 1973, pp.186-191.

16 Dictionary of National Biography.

17 Shelburne correspondence, quoted in Fry, p.191. The East India Company maintained a factory on the island of Hirado from 1613 to 1623.

18 A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, Vol.III, p.440-1.

19 Coxe, op.cit., pp.333-7, 341-2, 350.

20 A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, May 1784, Vol. III, p.437. As an instance of the wide public attention this passage received, it was quoted in what would today be called a "press release" apparently issued by the Etches Company, and published in an article carried in The Morning Herald and The Public Advertiser of 2 September 1785, and The General Evening Post and The St. James's Chronicle of 3 September 1785.

21 John Etches, An Authentic Statement of all the Facts Relative to Nootka Sound, London, Debret, 1790, pp.2-4. George Rose was Secretary and Thomas Steele Under-Secretary to the Treasury; Mulgrave was a Lord of the Admiralty and as Constantine Phipps had commanded the Racehorse and Carcass in 1773 attempting to find the North West Passage.

22 Etches to Banks, 14 March 1785, Kew Herbarium Library, Banks Correspondence, Vol.I, no.195. The author expresses appreciation of the assistance of Silvia FitzGerald, Chief Librarian and Archivist, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

23 Thunberg to Banks, 16 May 1779, Br.Lib. Add.MS 8094, f.261; cited in David Mackay, In the Wake of Cook: Exploration, Science & Empire, 1780-1801, Wellington (NZ), Victoria UP, 1985, pp.61-2. C.P. Thunberg, "Ett kort utdrag af en Journal, hållen pår en resa til och uti Kejsaredömet Japan, gjord af Doctor Thunberg åren 1775 och 1776, skrifvit til Herr Joseph Banks, Præses uti Royal Society, i London", Philosophical Transactions, Vol.70, 1780, Part I, pp.143-56, Appendix, pp.i-viii, noticed in The Gentleman's Magazine for October 1780; idem.,"Observations on the Manners, Customs, Dress, Agriculture, &c. of the Japanese", The European Magazine, April (pp.233-8), May (pp.313-6) and June 1786 (pp.401-4); and Travels in Europe, Africa and Asia, London, 1795. Carl Steenstrup, "A Gustavian Swede in Tanuma Okitsugu’s Japan", Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol.6, 1979, pp.20-43.

24 H.B. Carter, Sir Joseph Banks, London, British Museum (Natural History), 1988, p.173. Banks' interest in Japan was also manifested in his publication in 1791 of Engelbert Kaempfer's Japanese botanical drawings held in the British Museum, Icones selectae Plantarum quae in Japonia collegit et delineavit Engelbertus Kaempfer.

25 PRO, CO 201/1, ff.57-61; Br.Lib. Add. MS 47568, ff.240-6; the proposal was re-submitted to the Leader of the Opposition, Charles James Fox, in August 1784. The passage quoted was published in The General Advertiser of 13 October 1786.

26 p.53.

27 Uppsala Universitetsbiblioteket, Banks MSS, Ur: G 300c; cited in Glyndwr Williams, "'The Common Center of We Discoverers', Sir Joseph Banks, Exploration and Empire in the Late 18th Century", R.E.R. Banks, et al., Sir Joseph Banks: A Global Perspective, London, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, 1994, pp.177-91.

28 British Library, India Office Records and Archives, Home Miscellaneous, 494(5), pp.359-67; cited in V.T. Harlow, The Founding of the Second British Empire, Vol.II, London, Longmans, 1964, pp.421-4.

29 India Office, Home Misc., 494(5), p.363-5; quoted in V. Harlow and F. Madden, British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834, Oxford, 1953, pp.22-3; also in Mackay, p.63.

30 India Office, Home Misc., 494(5), p.369.

31 William Devayne and Nathaniel Smith, Chair and Deputy Chair of the East India Company, to Lord Sydney, 11 August 1785, HMS 190/13: 247; quoted in V. Harlow and F. Madden, p.27.

32 Mackay, p.64.

33 Devayne and Smith to Sydney, 11 August 1785.

34 Br.Lib., Add.MS 25578, ff.134-40; HO 42/7; cited in Mackay, p.64, and Warren L. Cook, Flood Tide of Empire: Spain and the Pacific Northwest, 1543-1819, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1973, p.144.

35 [John Etches], A Continuation of an Authentic Statement of All the Facts Relative to Nootka Sound, London, Fores, 1790, p.23.

36 The Daily Universal Register and the Morning Post of 5 October, and The Craftsman of 6 October 1785.

37 The London Chronicle; St. James Chronicle; The Whitehall Evening Post; and The Morning Post for 22 September.

38 European Magazine, November, 1788. W. Kaye Lamb and Tomás Bartroli, " James Hanna and John Henry Cox: the First Maritime Fur Trader and His Sponsor", BC Studies, no.84, 1989-90, pp.3-36; and W. Kaye Lamb, "Postscript", BC Studies, no.88, 1990-91, pp.93-4. Lamb and Bartroli have identified the East India Company supercargoes at Canton, David Lance, Henry Lane and William Fitzhugh, as the partners of Cox and Beale in their fur trading ventures.

39 J.J.B. de Lesseps, Travels in Kamchatka, London, 1790, vol.1, pp.10-11.

40 Meares' evidence to the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade, 8 February 1791, Public Record Office, Privy Council Register, PC 2/135, p.439 et seq.; quoted in Harlow, p.433.

41 ibid.

42 Meares' father was Charles Meares, "formerly an attorney of great eminence, and for several years pursuivant of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer in [Dublin]" (The Gentleman's Magazine for August 1790, Vol.LX, Part II, no.2, death notices for 31 July, p.767).

43 Also in The Gentleman's Magazine for February 1787.

44 Meares' evidence to the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade, 27 May 1790, PRO, BT, 5/6, ff.225-31; also at Br.Lib., Add MS 38,392, ff.114-21. In 1791, Cox returned to the North West coast in the Mercury (or Gustavus III); see George Mortimer, Observations and Remarks made during a Voyage.... in the Brig Mercury, London, 1791 (reprl New York, Israel, 1975).

45 Op cit., pp.lxxxiii-v.

46 ibid.

47 India Office, Factory Records, China, G/12/20; cited in V.T. Harlow, The Founding of the Second British Empire, Vol.II, London, Longmans, 1964, p.583.

48 Isaac Titsingh, Illustrations of Japan, translated from the French by Frederic Shoberl, London, Ackermann, 1822, pp.182-3.

49 Donald Keene, The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720-1830, Stanford, Stanford U.P., 1969. Herman Ooms, Charismatic Bureaucrat: A Political Biography of Matsudaira Sadanobu, 1758-1829, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1975. George Alexandr Lensen, The Russian Push toward Japan: Russo-Japanese Relations, 1697-1875, Princeton, Princeton U.P., 1959. John Whitney Hall, Tanuma Okitsugu, 1719-1788: Forerunner of Modern Japan, Cambridge, Harvard U.P., 1955.

50 California State Library, Sutro Branch, Banks Papers, PN 1/6; quoted in F.W. Howay, "Four Letters from Richard Cadman Etches to Sir Joseph Banks, 1788-92", British Columbia Historical Quarterly, vol.6, no.2, April 1942, pp.125-39.

51 California State Library, Sutro Branch, Banks Papers., PN 1/7.

52 The Spanish had become aware of the Russian expedition which was being prepared under the command of Captain Grigory Ivanovich Mulovsky, who had orders to take possession of Nootka and all the coast northward. A.P. Sokolov, "Prigotovlenie krugosvetnoy ekspeditsii 1787 goda pod nachalstvom Muloskovo" [The Preparation of the 1787 round-the-world expedition commanded by Mulovsky], Zapiski Gidrogaficheskovo Departamenta Morekovo Ministerstva, part 6, 1848, pp.177; V.A. Divin, Russkiye moreplavaniya na Tikhom okeane v XVIII veke, [Russian voyages to the Pacific in the 18th century], Moscow, Masl', 1971, p.289; Lydia Black, "'The Russians were Coming...'", Robin Inglis (ed.), Spain and the North Pacific Coast, Vancouver Maritime Museum Society, 1992.

53 Etches to Banks, 6 May 1790, Kew Herbarium Library, Banks Correspondence,Vol. 2, no.11; quoted in Mackay, p.93.

54 "Sketch of a Letter to the Admiralty", undated but early February 1790, HO 28/7, ff.48-56; cited in Alan Frost, "Nootka Sound and the Beginnings of Britain's Imperialism of Free Trade", Robin Fisher and Hugh Johnson, (eds.) Maps to Metaphors: The Pacific World of George Vancouver, Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press, 1993, pp.112-16.

55 Nepean to Phillip, March1790 (draft), HO 201/1, ff.19-24; reproduced in Jonathan King, "In the Beginning..." The Story of the Creation of Australia, From the Original Writings, Melbourne, Macmillan, 1985, p. 18.

56 30 Geo.III 47.

57 This important point is made by Frost in "Nootka Sound and the Beginnings of Britain's Imperialism of Free Trade", op.cit., pp.116-7.

58 Bustamante, Diario de Viaje, Novo y Colson, libro 3, p.26. "The Emperor, who is some years past eighty, retains no Passion so strong as Avarice, but seems to have yielded a little to revenge, for he has lately prohibited the introduction of Furs, in order to shew his resentment to the Russians from whose Country he is told they come & in the same view he has interdicted the exportation of Rhubarb, two Articles he thinks essential to the Russian Commerce—Such are his Imperial Ideas of Trade!" (John Blankett to Lord Chatham, 9 April 1791; Public Record Office (Kew), Pitt Papers, 30/8/365: 219-222).

59 The Journal of Captain James Colnett aboard the Argonaut, (edited by F.W. Howay), Toronto, The Champlain Society, 1940, pp.234-9.

60 ibid., pp.247-9. The Sadanobu regime viewed the increasing presence of foreign ships off the coasts of Japan with alarm, and in September 1791 (following Colnett's attempts to make port in western Japan) issued an edict which, referring to "strange ships which have in recent years been appearing and disappearing off the coasts of Chikuzen [northern Kyushu], Nagato and Iwami [ports on the west coast of Japan]", ordered the repelling of all foreign ships (Shinmura, Izuru, "Tenmei Jidai no Kaigai Chishiki (Overseas Knowledge of the Tenmei Era)", Shinmura Izuru Senshu, Kyoto, 1943, p.217. The full text of the edict is given in Kisaki, Ryohei, Kodaiyu to Lakusuman: Bakumatsu Nichi-Ro Kosho no Isshokumen (Kodaiyu and Laxman: An Aspect of Japanese-Russian Relations in the Late Edo Period), Tokyo, Tosui Shobo, 1992).

61 ibid., pp.278-281.

62 Public Record Office (Kew), Pitt Papers, 30/8/365: 219-222.

63 Joseph Ingraham, Journal of the Brigantine Hope, Barre (Massachusetts), Imprint Society, 1971, pp.176-7. I am grateful to Lt.Cdr. A.C.F. David for drawing this reference to my attention.

64 "A Voyage for Whaling and Discovery Round C. Horn into the Pacific Oceans made under Protection of the Rt. Hon. Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, Performed in the Merchant Ship Rattler by J. Colnett, Lieut. in the R.N., 1793 and 1794," Br.Lib. Add. MS 30,369, p.390 (f.251); cited in Barry M. Gough, The Northwest Coast: British Navigation, Trade, and Discoveries to 1812, Vancouver, UBC Press, 1992, pp.196-7.

65 Memorandum on Trade to the South Seas and the North West Coast of America, India Office, HMS, 494/5, pp.441 ff. Quoted in Harlow and Madden, op.cit., p.39.

66 Henry Dundas, Instructions to Lord Macartney, 8 September 1792, India Office, Factory Records, China, G/12/91, pp.341ff. Quoted in V. Harlow and F. Madden, British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834, Oxford, 1953, p.48. These instructions confirmed suggestions made by Macartney himself in a memorandum to Dundas dated 4 January 1792. India Office, Factory Records, China, G/12/91, f.37; cited in Harlow, op.cit., p.569.

67 Carter, op.cit., p.293.

68 The attempts to find a Japanese interpreter had included Secretary of State William Grenville writing to the British Ambassador to St. Petersburg, Charles Whitworth, about a Japanese castaway who was reported to be in Russian hands: this was the shipwrecked merchant, Daikokuya Kodaiyu ,who had been met in Nizhni Kamchatsk by Barthélemy de Lesseps,the interpreter with the Lapérouse expedition, who was conveying the journal of Lapérouse from Petropavlovsk to Paris (Travels in Kamchatka, London, 1790, pp.208-17). The Russiansprevented any access to Daikokuya by the British when he was brought to St. Petersburg, and used him themselves as an interpreter in 1792 during the expedition to Japan led by Adam Laxman (Whitworth to Grenville, 18 May 1792 with enclosure no.2, Wason Collection, Cornell University, docs. nos. 119 and 359, quoted in J.L. Cranmer-Byng, "Russian and British Interests in the Far East, 1791-1793", Canadian Slavonic Papers, vol.X, 1968, pp.357-75).

69 India Office, Factory Records, China, G/12/92, pp.137-50; published in Sir George Staunton, An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China, Philadelphia, 1799, pp.250-1.

70 Helen H. Robbins, Our First Ambassador to China, London, Murray, 1908, p.362.

71 Macartney to Dundas, 23 December 1793, India Office, Factory Records, China, 1084 G/12/20.

72 Titsingh to Macartney, 4 November 1793, Appendix to Macartney's Journal, Toyo Bunko (Tokyo); cited in J.L. Cranmer-Byng (ed.), An Embassy to China, London, Longmans, 1962; Alistair Lamb, "Lord Macartney in Batavia, March 1793", Journal of the South Seas Society, (Singapore), Vol.XIV, December 1958, pp.57-68.

73 J.L. Cranmer-Byng, p.206.

74 W.R. Broughton, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, London, 1804, pp.iv, 65; cited in Mackay, p.115.

75 W.R. Broughton, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, London, 1804, pp.201-3.

76 Mackay, p.77.

77 India Office, China Consultations, R/10, Vol.15, p.43; quoted in Mackay, p.66.

78 Malaspina to Valdés, 15 September 1790, Museo Naval (Madrid), MS 583: 76-7; printed in La Expedición Malaspina, 1789-1794, Tomo I, Ricardo Cerezo Martínez, editor, Circunstancia histórica del viaje, Barcelona, Museo Naval, Ministerio de Defensa y Lunwerg Editores, 1987, pp.143-7.

79 "Extracto de las Negociaciones de Pieles de Nutria", Museo Naval (Madrid), MS 335: 58-62; cited in Virginia González Claverán, "Malaspina, New Spain and the Northwestern Otter", presented at the Vancouver Conference on Exploration and Discovery, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, 1992; "Reflexiones politicas sobre las Costas ocidentales de la America…", Museo Naval (Madrid), MS 661: 57-109; printed in La Expedición Malaspina, 1789-1794, Tomo VII, Juan Pimentel, editor, Examines Politicos, Barcelona, Museo Naval, Ministerio de Defensa y Lunwerg Editores, 1996, pp.132-42. See also "Examen Politico de las Costas del NO. de la America", Museo Naval (Madrid), MS 633: 99-107; printed in Pimentel, pp.93-111.

80 "las ultimas especulaciones que con tanto acierto insinuo el Capn. King, abieron los ojos y toda la Inglaterra vio con asombro el ramo de las Nutrias como un recurso Capaz de reparar todas sus perdidas, pero este fosforo desaparecio bien vreve, y agoviado de su propio peso conservo una vida efimera hasta que la ultima prohibicion en Canton lo acavo de esterminar" (Arcadio Pineda, "Apuntes sobre la Colonia Inglesa de Puerto Jackson", Museo Naval, MS 181; printed in Blanca Sáiz (ed.), Alejandro Malaspina: La América imposible, Madrid, Compañía Literaria, 1994, p.336).

Updated: January 21, 2015