Flinders returned to London in late 1810 a totally different man physically, if not mentally. Bouts of scurvy and the increasing incidents of his ‘gravelly’ complaint, the legacy of his youth in Tahiti, which would now return with fatal consequences, had severely compromised his well-being. Although only thirty-six his once dark hair had turned white and he looked fifty. Now unfit for sea service, due to ill-health, he was placed on half-pay of four shillings per day, albeit back-dated to 18 December 1803, until his death.
Fitzroy Square, London, 1800 by Thomas Malton
By the end of 1813 his ‘gravelly’ complaint – the still totally undiagnosed kidney infection – returned with a vengeance. Renal diseases were not uncommon among seafaring men of the time and with his medical history, dating from his youth, little more could have been done without the techniques of modern surgery. At the end the pain was excruciating but he never allowed it to cloud his stoicism. Matthew Flinders died at 14 London Street, later Maple Street, (on the site of the modern day BT Tower) on 19th July 1814, aged forty years, four months and three days.