1. Matthew Flinders and World Events

    A timeline of key dates and world events.

  2. Matthew Flinders Home in Donington, Lincolnshire


    16th March – Flinders born at Donington, Lincolnshire, England.

  3. War of American Independence-Battle of Cape St. Vincent


    War of American Independence; France supports rebels; Britain loses sovereignty over American colonies

  4. 1778

    American alliance with France

  5. 1779

    22 May – sister Susanna, born

    Spain declares War on England

  6. 1780

    26 January – entered at Mr. Whitehead’s School for reading only.

  7. 1781

    4 March – begins writing at Mr.Whitehead’s.

    British surrender to America at Yorktown

  8. 1783

    23 March – mother dies

    American War of Independence ends – Peace of Versailles
    William Pitt the Younger becomes PM

  9. 1785

    December – Matthew is reported to be learning well, particularly Latin.

  10. 1786

    24 July – starts at the Reverend Shingler’s Boarding School.

  11. 1787

    December – returns from School to assist his father in the family business.

  12. Botany Bay by Charles Gore


    First Fleet of British colonists arrives in Botany Bay; settlement established at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, on 26 January

  13. 1789

    23 October joins Royal Navy, entered on books of HMS Alert as a lieutenant’s servant (does not join)

    April – Mutiny on the Bounty
    July – Storming of Bastille

  14. 1790

    17 May joins HMS Scipio as Able-seaman rate for cruise with Captain Pasley
    20 July joins HMS Bellerophon as Able-seaman rate
    31 July junior midshipman under Pasley

  15. 1791

    14 April joins HMS Dictator as junior midshipman
    8 May joins HMS Providence as midshipman under Captain William Bligh for second ‘breadfruit’ voyage

  16. H.M.S. Providence and H.M.S.Assistant in Adventure Bay. By Tobin 1792


    Voyage to the Pacific in HMS Providence. under command of Captain Bligh.

  17. 1793

    August returns to England
    7 September re-joins the Bellerophon as Able-seaman rate
    1 October senior midshipman

    Execution of Louis XVI: French Revolutionary War starts
    France declares War on England

  18. Lord Howe engaging the French Fleet, followed by Bellerophon


    June – Serving in HMS Bellerophon at ‘Battle of the Glorious First of June’ against French
    11 August joins HMS Reliance as Masters mate

  19. 1795

    First expedition in the Tom Thumb with George Bass – to Botany Bay and the George’s River
    25 November promoted acting-Lieutenant in the Reliance

  20. 1795-1796

    HMS Reliance with Governor Hunter.

  21. 1796

    March – second expedition with George Bass in the Tom Thumb II – to south coast of New South Wales

    Spain declares War on England

  22. 1796-1798

    1797 Voyage on HMS Reliance to Cape of Good Hope to obtain livestock for the new settlement of Port Jackson [Sydney]. Flinders’ cat Trim born during voyage.

  23. 1797

    December – Bass’s whaleboat journey establishes strong likelihood of the existence of a strait between Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and the Australian mainland.

    Battle of St. Vincent
    Spithead and Nore Mutinies
    Battle of Camperdown

  24. Matthew Flinders in Navy uniform. State Library of New South Wales


    31 January – promoted lieutenant
    February – Journeys to Furneaux Islands off the north-east corner of Van Diemen’s Land and notes evidence to support Bass’s suspicions about a strait.
    October – With Bass begins voyage in the Norfolk through suspected strait and around Van Diemen’s Land.

    Battle of the Nile

  25. Map of Van Diemens land by M.Flinders


    October 1798–January 1799 — Circumnavigates Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania] with Bass in HM Sloop Norfolk.

  26. Flinders view of Port Jackson


    January — Returns to Port Jackson in the Norfolk.
    Later in year explores northern coast of NSW in the Norfolk

    Napoleon appointed 1st Consul in France
    French capture Naples

  27. 1799

    July-August – Explores the Queensland coast in HM Sloop Norfolk.

  28. Portrait of Sir Joseph Banks. National-Library-of-Australia. By-Phillips


    August arrives back in England in the Reliance.
    September writes to Sir Joseph Banks proposing voyage of discovery to Terra Australis

  29. HM Sloop Investigator: etching by Geoffrey Ingleton, 1937


    24 January – appointed to command the sloop Investigator on a voyage of Australian exploration
    16 February – promoted to rank of commander
    17 April – marries Ann Chappelle
    18 July – sails for Australia
    December – reaches Cape Leeuwin, south-western Australia

    Battle of Copenhagen
    Armistice with France
    End of Pitt the Younger as PM

  30. Flinders reaches Port Jackson (Sydney). Illustration by Westall


    January – Begins survey of southern coast of Australia
    April – Meets with Baudin in French exploration ship Géographe at Encounter Bay, south Australia
    May – Reaches Port Jackson (Sydney)
    July – sails from Port Jackson to commence survey of east and north coast.

    Treaty of Amiens with France signed

  31. Port-Louis-ile-de-France


    March – Puts into Timor for repairs to the Investigator
    June – Arrives back in Port Jackson via western and southern coasts having circumnavigated Australia
    August – Departs Port Jackson as passenger in the Porpoise to return to England, the Investigator having been condemned
    – Porpoise wrecked on Wreck Reef, returns to Port Jackson in the cutter Hope
    September – sails from Port Jackson in the schooner Cumberland to return to England
    15 December – puts into Ile de France (Mauritius), arrested as a spy. Held prisoner in the Hotel Marengo

    England declares War on France
    Napoleonic Wars start

  32. 1804

    April – moved to the Maison Despeaux, the Garden Prison

    Spain declares War on England

  33. Battle of Trafalgar by William Clarkson Stanfield


    August – moved to ‘le Refuge’ at Plaines Wilhelm, home of the d’Arifat family

    Battle of Trafalgar

  34. 1806

    21 March – French government approves his release

  35. 1807

    July – news of French government approval for release reaches Mauritius but General Decaen refuses to implement

  36. 1808

    Peninsular War to drive French out of Spain

  37. 1810

    13 June – Released from Mauritius to return to England via Cape of Good Hope in the Otter.
    23 October – Arrives back in England after absence of over nine years, is promoted Post Captain back dated to 7 May 1810.

    December – Mauritius falls to Britain

  38. 1812

    1 April – birth of only child, Anne

    War with America
    Napoleon invades Russia, is forced to retreat from Moscow

  39. A Voyage to Terra Australis book


    18 July – A Voyage to Terra Australis is published; Died of kidney failure next day – buried St James’, Hampstead Road, London

    Napoleon abdicates, exiled on Elba

  40. 1815

    Waterloo – Napoleonic Wars end, Napoleon imprisoned on island of St. Helena.