Robert Molineux

 

Master Robert Molineux of Hale wasa seaman who accompanied Lietenant James Cook

On the first of his 3 voyages of discovery to Auastralia and New Zealand, (1768-71), serving as Master of the Royal Navy Research Ship Endeavour.

 

The Endeavour crew list records the Master as Robert Molineoux of Hale Lancashire. He probably learned his trade in the thriving port of Liverpool and was appointed Master of the Endeavour in 1768. Prior to departure, from Plymouth on the 26th August, he made his will, leaving everything to his sister “Ellen Molinoux of Liverpool in Lancashire, maiden”.

 

Endeavour sailed across the Atlantic, rounding Cape Horn and arriving in Tahiti, where she remained for two months. Unfortunately Molinoux’s behaviour here was far from exemplary, as Cook noted”His drunkeness is reprehensible. I must constantly put him to task to keep him off the bottle.”

 

In October `769, the ship reached the shores of New Zealand, where Cook and his crew spent six months charting the coast, before claiming the territory for the British Crown.   The ship then sailed westward and Botany Bay, Australia was sighted on the 19th April 1770.

Endeavour sailed to Batavia capital of the Dutch East Indies, ominously nicknamed “The grave of the Dutchmen”. Here the ships underwent extensive repairs, before setting sail for home on Boxing Day, 1770.

 

Unfortunately, many of the crew, including Molinoux, fell ill with malaria and dysentery and the ship called into Cape Town to allow for their recovery or replacement. Endeavour finally embarked on the last leg of the journey on the 15th April 1771, but the same evening, Robert Molinoux succumbed to his illness and was buried at sea near Robben Island.

Molinoux’s memory is preserved in the name of a bay on New Zealand’s south coast and in the former name of the country’s mightiest river, now called the River Clutha, which reaches the sea near Dunedin.

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