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Sick List of HMS Dolphin, 1766-8

Posted by Byrne McLeod, on November 13th, 2012


Samuel Wallis and his sloop Dolphin circumnavigated the globe between 1776 and 1768, and as a result was able to provide Captain Cook with the exact location of Tahiti before he set out. This little pocket-book, found in Wallis’s file in The National Archives, records the occasions on which the ‘people’ of the Dolphin were ill during this extraordinary journey. It records those men who suffered from sexually transmitted diseases, pleurisy, rheumatism and, after their visit to Batavia, the ‘flux’.  A man died from falling from the rigging and another drowned, but none died of scurvy because Wallis voyaged from island to island, buying fresh food wherever he touched land. Only seven deaths in a voyage which lasted two years is an amazing achievement, and Wallis’s log records that he bought lemons in Madeira on his way south, fresh vegetables at every island he visited, and a huge quantity of limes in Batavia for his return journey.

Mr Hutchinson, surgeon on board, had to buy the medicaments he thought he might need for a two-year voyage out of his own pocket, but was refunded on his return by the Sick and Hurt Board


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