The crew of the Investigator was selected with particular care. Flinders desired to carry none but young sailors of good character. He was given permission to take men from the Zealand, and he explained to those who volunteered the nature of the service, and its probably severe and protracted character. The readiness with which men came forward gave him much pleasure.
“Upon one occasion, when eleven volunteers were to be received from the Zealand, a strong instance was given of the spirit of enterprise prevalent amongst British seamen. About three hundred disposable men were called up, and placed on one part of the deck; and after the nature of the voyage, with the number of men wanted, had been explained to them, those who volunteered were desired to go over to the opposite side. The candidates were no less than two hundred and fifty, most of whom sought with eagerness to be received; and the eleven who were chosen proved, with one single exception, to be worthy of the preference they obtained.”
Of the whole crew (and the total ship’s company numbered 83) only two caused any trouble to the commander. As these two “required more severity in reducing to good order than I wished to exercise in a service of this nature,” when the Investigator reached the Cape, Flinders arranged with the Admiral there, Sir Roger Curtis, to exchange them—as well as two others who from lack of sufficient strength were not suitable—for four sailors upon the flagship, who made a pressing application to go upon a voyage of discovery. Thus purged of a very few refractories and inefficients, the ship’s company was a happy, loyal and healthy crew, of whom the commander was justifiably proud.
The officers and scientific staff were chosen with a view to making the voyage fruitful in utility. The first lieutenant, Robert Fowler, had served on the ship when she was the Xenophon. He was a Lincolnshire man, hailing from Horncastle, and had been a schoolfellow of Banks. But it was not through Sir Joseph’s influence that he was selected. Flinders made his acquaintance while the refitting of the vessel was in progress, and found him desirous of making the voyage. As his former captain spoke well of him, his services were accepted. Samuel Ward Flinders went as second lieutenant, and there were six midshipmen, of whom John Franklin was one.
Originally it was intended that Mungo Park, the celebrated African traveller, who was at this time in England looking round for employment, should go to Australia on the Investigator, and act as naturalist. But no definite engagement was entered into; the post remained vacant, and a Portuguese exile living in London, Correa de Sena, introduced to Banks a young Scottish botanist who desired to go, describing him as one “fitted to pursue an object with a staunch and a cold mind.” Robert Brown was then not quite twenty-seven years of age. Like the gusty swashbuckler, Dugald Dalgetty, he had been educated at the Marischal College, Aberdeen. For a few years he served as ensign and assistant surgeon of a Scottish regiment, the Fife Fencibles. Always a keen botanist, he found a ready friend in Banks, who promised to recommend him “for the purpose of exploring the natural history, amongst other things.” His salary was 420 pounds a year, and he earned it by admirable service. Brown remained in Australia for two years after the discovery voyage, and his great Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae, which won the praise of Humboldt, is a classic monument to the extent and value of his researches.
William Westall was appointed landscape and figure draftsman to the expedition at a salary of 315 pounds per annum. The nine fine engravings which adorn the Voyage to Terra Australis are his work. He was but a youth of nineteen when he made this voyage. Afterwards he attained repute as a landscape painter, and was elected as Associate of the Royal Academy. One hundred and thirty-eight of his drawings made on the Investigator are preserved.
Ferdinand Bauer was appointed botanical draftsman to the expedition at a salary of 315 pounds. He was an Austrian, forty years of age, an enthusiast in his work, and a man of uncommon industry. He made 1600 botanical drawings which, in Robert Brown’s opinion, were “for beauty, accuracy and completion of detail unequalled in this or in any other country in Europe.”
Bauer’s Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae, published in 1814, consisted of plates which were drawn, engraved and coloured by his own hand. Flinders formed a very high opinion of the capacity of both Brown and Bauer. “It is fortunate for science,” he wrote to Banks “that two men of such assiduity and abilities have been selected; their application is beyond what I have been accustomed to see.”
Peter Good, appointed gardener to the expedition at a salary of 105 pounds, was a foreman at the Kew Gardens when he was selected for this service. Brown found him a valuable assistant, and an indefatigable worker. He died in Sydney in June, 1803, from dysentery contracted at Timor. Of John Allen, engaged as a miner at a salary of 105 pounds, nothing is known.
John Crossley was engaged to sail as astronomer, at a salary of 420 pounds, but he did not accompany the Investigator further than the Cape of Good Hope, where his health broke down, and he returned to England. The instruments with which he had been furnished by the Board of Longitude were, however, left on board, and Flinders undertook to do his work in cooperation with his brother Samuel, who had been assisting Crossley, and was able to take charge of the astronomical clocks and records.
Astronomer, John Crosley.
Naturalist, Robert Brown.
Natural-history painter, Ferdinand Bauer.
Landscape painter, William Westall.
Their servants, 4 Gardener, Peter Good.
Miner, John Allen.
Commander, Matthew Flinders.
Lieutenants, Robert Fowler.
Samuel W. Flinders.
Master, John Thistle.
Surgeon, Hugh Bell.
Surgeon’s assistant, Robert Purdie.
Master’s mates and midshipmen Thomas Evans.William Taylor. John Franklin. Thomas Bell. Nathaniel Bell. Kennet Sinclair. Sherrard P. Lound. James Wolsey.
Boatswain, Charles Douglas. Gunner, Robert Colpits.
Carpenter, Russel Mart.
Clerk, John Olive.
All the rest un-named in A Voyage to Terra Australis, , but possibly there is a Admiralty record that names them.
Cook and mate, 2
Sailmaker and mate, 2
Master at arms, 1
Boatswain’s mates, 2
Gunner’s mate, 1
Carpenter’s mates, 2
D. crew, 2
Quarter masters, 4
Able and ordinary seamen and landsmen, 35
Marines. Serjeant, 1
Master at arms, 1
Quarter masters, 2
Cook’s mate, 1
Carpenter’s crew, 1
Deficient of complement 7
The deficiency of seven, and the two young gentlemen more than allowed, left the whole number of persons on board to be eighty eight, at the time of sailing.