Birthplace: King's Lynn, Norfolk, England
Location of death: Peterham, Surrey, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: Surveyed the West coast of America
Military service: Royal Navy
The English navigator George Vancouver was born in 1757. At a young age he entered the navy and accompanied James Cook in his second (1772-74) and third (1776-80) voyages of discovery. After serving for several years in the West Indies, both under Rodney (his commander in the action of the 12th of April 1782) and under Alan Gardner (1786-89), Vancouver, on Gardner's recommendation, was appointed to command an expedition to the Northwest coast of America, to take over from the Spaniards the territory they had seized (and, subsequently relinquished) in that region, to explore the coast from 30 degrees N. round to Cook's River (or Inlet), to search for an eastward passage to the great lakes, and to ascertain the true character of Juan de Fuca Strait. Vancouver, accompanied by Lieutenant Broughton, left Falmouth on the 1st of April 1791 and proceeded by way of the Cape of Good Hope to Australia, where he carefully surveyed part of the southwest coast, especially King George's Sound, whose value as a harbor he pointed out. He next made for Dusky Sound, New Zealand (which he was the first properly to explore), and then sailing northeast, discovered Oparo Islet, and on the 30th of December reached Tahiti, where he was again joined by Broughton, who meanwhile had discovered Chatham Island. After staying about three weeks at Tahiti and several weeks at the Hawaiian Islands, Vancouver on the 18th of April 1792 sighted the west coast of North America (California, then known as New Albion) in 39 degrees 27' N. He examined the coast up to 52 degrees 18' N. with minute care, surveying all inlets, discovering the Gulf of Georgia, and circumnavigating Vancouver Island (named after him.) After another visit (February-March 1793) to the Hawaiian Islands, in whose races and affairs he took great interest, Vancouver resumed his exploration of the American coast in April, surveying north to 56 degrees N., and south (past the Spanish Californian settlements) to 35 degrees N. During a fresh stay at the Hawaiian Islands (January-March 1794) Vancouver accepted their submission to Great Britain, but his annexation seems never to have been officially ratified. Quitting the group again in March 1794, Vancouver sailed, by Chernigov Island and Kodiak Island, to Cook's Inlet, which was now proved to be no river. After a fresh survey of much of the coast north of San Francisco, Vancouver set out homewards via Cape Horn and St. Helena in October 1794. On the way he made a careful examination of Cape St. Lucas, the southern point of Lower California, the Galapagos Islands and some other points. He reached the mouth of the Shannon on the 13th of September 1795 (the Thames on the 20th of October), and immediately set about the preparation of his narrative; but he died at Petersham in Surrey on the 10th of May 1798, before he had completed his task. His brother John, assisted by Captain Puget, published the complete record in 1798.
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