The Voyages of Sir Joseph Banks

In 1768 Lincolnshire botanist Sir Joseph Banks funded his own trip on the HMS Endeavour voyage to Australia with Captain Cook. He took with him his own team of botanists and artists, and he went on to commission other botanists and explorers for later voyages.  He was a young man who had studied at Eton and Oxford and was still only 25 years of age when the HMS Endeavour sailed from Plymouth to discover chart the Transit of Venus in Tahiti and then to sail on to discover where the land mass of Terra Australis lay in the south Pacific ocean.

Banks was an enthusiast botanist and collector from a very early age, and before the Endeavour Voyage he had been part of an earlier voyage exploring Newfoundland.  After returning from Botany Bay and the Endeavour voyage he had hoped to go on a third voyage, again with Captain Cook, but he was refused permission so he funded his own voyage to Iceland.

Image - a Maori Man and Sir Joseph Banks in New Zealand. Artist Tupiai 1769 © The British Library 


On the return from his voyages Banks presented his findings at his home in Soho Square and held Banks’ Breakfasts, in which discussion of his findings and those of other explorers and philosophers were central to the conversation.

Image: ‘View of the eruption of geiser.’ Iceland. Drawings, partly coloured, illustrative of Sir Joseph Banks’s voyage to the Hebrides, Orkneys, and Iceland, in 1772 © The British Library 

Sir Joseph Banks grew up at Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire. He spent his childhood in the Lincolnshire countryside and developed a passion for the study of plants. Lincolnshire at the time was one of Britain’s wealthiest counties because of the wool trade

Banks’ Voyages: Map Positions

Labrador & Newfoundland: HMS Niger

  • Plymouth, UK 50°22′17″N, 04°08′32″W
  • Northwest Atlantic Ocean: Grand Banks 45°14′13″N, 50°59′21″W
  • St John’s, Newfoundland 47°33′41″N, 52°42′45″W
  • Chateau Bay, Labrador 51°58′48″N, 55°53′42″W
  • Route home via Lisbon Portugal 38.7223° N, 9.1393° W

Circumnavigation: HMS Endeavour voyage with Captain Cook

  • Plymouth 50°22′17″N, 04°08′32″W
  • Madeira 32°39′04″N, 16°54′35″W
  • South America: Rio de Janeiro 22°54′30″S, 43°11′47″W
  • South America: Tierra del Fuego 54.8054° S, 68.3242° W
  • Tahiti 17°40′S, 149°25′W
  • Society Islands 17°32′S, 149°50′W
  • New Zealand 38°42′S, 177°58′E
  • Botany Bay 33°59′52.7994″S, 151°13′58.8″E
  • HS8 Batavia (Indonesia) 06°12′S, 106°49′E
  • Route home- South Africa: Cape of Good Hope 34°21′24.63″S, 18°28′26.36″E
  • Route home - South Atlantic: Saint Helena 15°56′S, 05°43′W
  • Voyage finishes at Deal in Kent

Voyage 3 Via Wales, Scotland to Iceland: HMS Sir Lawrence

England: Gravesend, Kent 51.4415°N, 0.3685°E

England: Isle of Wight 50°40′N, 01°16′W

England: Land’s End 50°04′07″N, 02′58″W / 

Wales: St David’s Head 51°54′10″N, 05°18′45″W

Isle of Man, 54°09′N, 04°29′W

Inner Hebrides: Staffa: Fingal’s Cave 56°26′10″N, 06°20′25″W

Iceland: Mount Hekla 63°59′N, 19°42′W

Scotland: Orkney 59°00′N, 03°02′W

Route home – voyage finished at River Forth in Scotland

We worked with volunteers in Grantham and with Pufferfish, a digital display company in Edinburgh, to create an interactive display which showed the voyages and associated images on an interactive globe