Matthew Flinders was born in Lincolnshire on 16 March 1774 at the market town of Donington. He was the eldest child of Matthew Flinders, surgeon-apothecary, and his wife, Susannah (née Ward).
Two abiding concerns ran through his life. He wanted to be rich — or at least comfortable — and he wanted to be famous. His family was not wealthy and his father complained of his own lack of money and of his children’s reluctance to earn their own livings.