Robert Stevenson named the ship, which housed the artificers
during the progress of the Works, the "Sir Joseph Banks"
- in compliment to Sir Joseph Banks, who was Vice-President
of the Board of Trade in the year 1806 when the Bill for
the Lighthouse was progressing through Parliament.
in London into a wealthy family, on 13 February 1743, Joseph
Banks received his earliest education at home under private
tuition. At age nine he attended Harrow School and was then
enrolled at Eton School which he attended from the
age of 13 until 18. In 1760 he entered Christ Church at
Oxford University as a gentlemen commoner.
His passion for botany and dedication to Linnean precepts
had developed to such an extent that, unable to study botany
at Oxford, Banks employed a private tutor, Isaac Lyons,
from Cambridge. As was usual for members of his social class,
Banks did not take out a degree. He came down from Oxford
in 1763 an independently wealthy man following the
death of his father in 1761.
As an independent naturalist, Banks participated in a voyage
to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1767. Although he did not
publish an account of this expedition, he allowed others
full use of his collection. In the same year he was elected
a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Society
of Antiquities. In 1778 he was elected President of
the Royal Society, a position he held with varying degrees
of support, until his death in 1820. He remains the longest
serving President in the history of the Royal Society, founded
almost 350 years ago.
He successfully lobbied the Royal Society to be included
on what was to be James Cook's first great voyage of discovery,
on board the Endeavour (1768-1771). This voyage marked
the beginning of Banks' lifelong friendship and collaboration
with the Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, one of Linnaeus'
most esteemed pupils, and the beginning of Banks' lifelong
advocacy of British settlement in New South Wales.
The Endeavour had sailed into Botany Bay in April 1770 and
proceeded up the east coast and through Torres Strait, charting
the east coast of Australia in the process.
Frustrated in his attempt at a second voyage to the South
Seas, again with Cook, Banks set off in July 1772
for Iceland, his only other venture outside Europe.
From this time, Banks was actively involved in almost every
aspect of Pacific exploration and early Australian colonial
life. He was interested and involved in Cook's later voyages,
despite his disappointing withdrawal from the second voyage.
He actively supported the proposal of Botany Bay as a site
for British settlement. He proposed William Bligh
to command two voyages for the transportation of breadfruit
and other plants, including the ill-fated voyage on the
Bounty which ended in mutiny in April 1789.
He had a role in choosing the governors of the settlement
in New South Wales, founded in January 1788 with the arrival
of the First Fleet. It was Banks who later recommended Bligh
to succeed Philip Gidley King as the fourth Governor of
New South Wales, Bligh's governorship ending in deposition
during the Rum Rebellion in 1808. Banks corresponded
with the first four Governors of New South Wales who, while
they reported officially to the Secretary of State for the
Colonies, also reported privately and therefore more intimately
and openly to Banks.
Practically anyone who wanted to travel to New South Wales,
in almost any capacity, consulted Sir Joseph Banks. He was
the one constant throughout the first 30 years of white
settlement in Australia, through changes of ministers, government
Banks organised Matthew Flinders' voyage on the
Investigator (1801-1803) which helped define the map of
Australia. He had connections with Sir George Macartney's
embassy to China (1792-1794), and with George Vancouver's
epic voyage to the north-west coast of America (1791-1795).
He sent botanists to all parts of the world, including
New South Wales, often at his own expense. Their collections
were added to both Kew Gardens and to Banks' own
collections. His collectors voyaged to the Cape of Good
Hope (Francis Masson and James Bowie); West Africa (Mungo
Park); the East Indies (Mungo Park); South America (Allan
Cunningham); India (Anton Hove); Australia (David Burton,
George Caley, Robert Brown, Allan Cunningham, George Suttor).
David Nelson was sent on Cook's third voyage and Archibald
Menzies was sent on Vancouver's voyage.
King George III had appointed Banks adviser to the
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew some time after his return
from the Pacific. His informal role as governmental adviser
on a range of issues was recognised in 1797 with his appointment
to the Privy Council. He served as a member of the
committees on trade and on coin. In his capacity as President
of the Royal Society he was also involved in the activities
of the Board of Longitude and the Greenwich Royal Observatory,
the Board of Agriculture (founded in 1793) and the African
Association (founded in 1788). He was also a Trustee of
the British Museum.
In addition to the Banks family estates in Lincolnshire,
Banks acquired his main London residence at 32 Soho Square
in 1776. It was established as his London home and scientific
base. His natural history collections were housed
there and made freely available to bona fide scientists
and researchers. Until his death, this house was a centre
for the wider scientific community. He did not discriminate
between British and foreign scientists. He was, in fact,
influential in maintaining scientific relations with
France, for example, during the French Revolution and the
In 1819 he was appointed Chairman to two committees established
by the House of Commons, one to enquire into prevention
of banknote forgery, the other to consider systems of weights
Banks was created a baronet in 1781 and invested Knight
Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1795. In March
1779, he had married Dorothea Hugessen (1758-1828), daughter
and heiress of William Western Hugessen. They had no children.
Sir Joseph Banks died on 19 June 1820.
(named in honour of Sir Joseph Banks for his contribution
The Swamp Banksia - Banksia Robur
Banksia is a genus of about 75 species in the Protea
family (Proteaceae). All species occur in Australia
with one (B.dentata) extending to islands to Australia's
north. Banksias can be found in most environments; the tropics,
sub-alpine areas, the coast and desert areas. The most diversity
in the genus occurs in the south of Western Australia
where over 80% of the species occur.
Archaeological evidence suggests that banksias or Banksia-like
plants have existed for over 40 million years. The first
humans to discover and make use of Banksia plants were the
Australian aborigines who used the nectar from the
flowers as part of their diet.
The first Europeans to observe banksias were probably Dutch
explorers who made several landfalls along the West Australian
coast during the 17th and early 18th centuries. No botanical
collections were made, however, until the discovery of the
east coast of Australia by Captain James Cook in
the Endeavour in April 1770. Accompanying Cook were botanists
Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander who collected many new
species at Botany Bay including four which would later be
included in a new genus, Banksia, named in honour of Joseph
Banks' contribution to botany. The four species collected
were B.serrata, B.ericifolia, B.integrifolia and B.robur.
Later, on the same voyage, Banks and Solander collected
a fifth species (B.dentata) on the north Queensland coast.
Banksia flowers are quite small but they occur in dense
clusters which, in some species, can number several thousand
individuals. Banksias are classified into two broad groups;
sub-genus Isostylis and sub-genus Banksia. The former consists
of only three species, all native to Western Australia,
and is recognised by having flowers in cone-shaped clusters.
This group is similar in many ways to the related genus,
Dryandra. The sub-genus Banksia has its flowers arranged
in the more or less cylindrical spike familiar to most Australians.
The flowers are followed by large, woody seed "cones" in
which the seeds are contained within closed follicles, two
seeds per follicle. In the majority of species these follicles
remain tightly closed unless stimulated to open by heat,
such as following a bushfire but, with a few species, the
seed is released annually. The seeds themselves have a papery
wing which allows them to be distributed by wind. Lieut.
It was Joseph Banks who proposed that William Bligh
should command two voyages for the transportation of breadfruit
and other plants - included the ill-fated voyage on the
Bounty, which ended in the famous mutiny of April 1789.
'Just before Sunrise Mr Christian and the Master at
Arms... came into my cabin while I was fast asleep, and
seizing me tyed my hands with a Cord & threatened instant
death if I made the least noise. I however called sufficiently
loud to alarm the Officers, who found themselves equally
secured by centinels at their doors... Mr Christian had
a Cutlass & the others were armed with Musquets & bayonets.
I was now carried on deck in my Shirt, in torture with a
severe bandage round my wrists behind my back, where I found
no man to rescue me...'
From Lieut. Bligh's logbook
On the morning of 28 April 1789, 12 crew members, led by
Master's Mate Fletcher Christian, staged a mutiny.
They captured the ship and set Lieutenant Bligh and his
supporters adrift in the ship's launch. Without charts or
adequate provisions, he endured and successfully navigated
an open boat 6,705 kilometres (3,600 miles) to Timor.
Some of the mutineers were later captured in Tahiti and
brought back round the world to stand trial. Other crew
members, including John Adams, decided (for obvious reasons)
never to return to England and instead founded a British
colony on Pitcairn Island.
William Bligh, watercolour
on ivory miniature, c. 1814
William Bligh was born in Plymouth, England in 1754. In
1770 he joined the Royal Navy as an able seaman, rising
to midshipman the following year. Between 1776 and 1793
he made three voyages to the South Seas, the first as master
of HMS Resolution under Captain James Cook, 1776-1780,
and the second as commander of HMS Bounty on a voyage to
Tahiti to collect breadfruits for use as a food crop in
the West Indies, 1787-89. It was this voyage that was interrupted
by the celebrated mutiny.
Bligh, though a man of his time, was hardly the tyrant
portrayed in modern Hollywood epics. The mutiny was largely
a product of unaccustomed high-living by the ship's
company and of the many liaisons established with local
Tahitian women. It inevitably became a daunting task for
any commander to return the sullen "Jack Tars" to a life
of 18th century Royal Navy discipline and ship's food.
Bligh's association with Southern latitudes did not end
with the mutiny. In 1806 he returned as governor of New
South Wales, and after clashing with the corrupt "Rum Corps",
suffered a second mutiny. Again exonerated by his superiors
in England, he was made a rear-admiral in 1811 and a vice
admiral in 1814. However, to echo the Irish playwrright
Oscar Wilde - it could be said that to suffer one
mutiny is unfortunate; to have a second could well be considered
as downright carelessness!
Acknowledgement is made to the State Library of New
South Wales for the use (in part) of the above material.