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Bowes Smyth, Arthur, 1750-1790
Collection 01: Arthur Bowes-Smyth, illustrated journal, 1787-1789. Titled `A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn, Merchantman William Cropton Sever, Commander by Arthur Bowes-Smyth, Surgeon - 1787-1788-1789'; being a fair copy compiled ca 1790.
Level of Description
Date of Work
22 March 1787 - 12 August 1789; compiled ca 1790
Type of Material
Safe 1 / 15
volume 1 portfolio
Textual Records - manuscript
Drawings - 25 watercolour, and pen and ink (disbound)
Administrative / Biographical Note
Arthur Bowes Smyth (1750-1790), known as Bowes while in the colony, sailed with the First Fleet as Surgeon on board the Lady Penrhyn. He was responsible for the women convicts. The Mitchell Library and British Library versions of Bowes Smyth's journal include the names of women convicts on the Lady Penrhyn, and the names of children. The Mitchell Library copy also includes the names of children born during the voyage. His estimate of ages, and recording of dates of birth and sex of children are not reliable. Bowes Smyth took a great interest in natural history, collecting specimens and making drawings including the earliest extant illustration by a European of the emu. It is probably not the first sketch of an emu, as has sometimes been claimed; this may have been drawn by Lieutenant John Watts, also of the Lady Penrhyn, reproduced in Arthur Phillip's published account of the First Fleet and now lost. He returned to England on the Lady Penrhyn travelling via Lord Howe Island, Tahiti, China and St Helena. On Lord Howe Island he described or drew six of the islands birds. Three, including, the white gallinule, are now extinct, and a fourth is rare. Bowes Smyth arrived in England in August 1789. He died some months after his return and was buried on 31 March 1790 in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex, where he had been born. (see Mollie Gillen, The founders of Australia; ADB)
Acquired from Dymocks, for 275 pounds, in 1915.
This journal has been published in transcription: Paul Fidlon and R.J. Ryan (eds), The journal of Arthur Bowes-Smyth: Surgeon, Lady Penrhyn 1787-1789 (Sydney: Australian Documents Library, 1979. Extracts have been published in Historical records of New South Wales, vol. 2 (Sydney: Government Printer, 1893).
Three manuscript versions of this journal are known to exist. They are held at the National Library of Australia (believed to be the original version); and the British Library (fair copy). The Mitchell Library version is believed to be a fair copy. The 25 watercolour illustrations had previously been folded and tipped-in to the journal with sealing wax. In 1988 the illustrations were removed and flattened. In 1992 the volume was rebound by Artlab as part of a project sponsored by Reader's Digest. Photocopy available on open access in the Mitchell Library Reading Room at CY Safe 1/15 Microfilm copy available at CY 343, frames 1-272
Aboriginal Australians -- New South Wales -- Sydney.
Birds -- Lord Howe Island (N.S.W.)
Botany -- Lord Howe Island (N.S.W.)
First Fleet, 1787-1788.
Lady Penrhyn (ship)
Lord Howe Island (N.S.W.) -- Discovery and exploration.
Lord Howe Island (N.S.W.) -- History -- 1788-1851.
Natural history -- Australia.
New South Wales -- History -- 1788-1851
Zoology -- Lord Howe Island (N.S.W.)
Possessed : an exhibition of treasures
Nelson Meers Foundation Heritage Collection - Jan 2003 - Mar 2004
Digital order no.
Album ID : 823394
First Fleet Collection of journals, correspondence and drawings, ca 1786-1802, held in the Mitchell and Dixson Libraries.
<< Items in this Collection
Arthur Bowes Smyth - drawings from his journal `A Journal of a Voyage from Portsmouth to New South Wales and China in the Lady Penrhyn ...', 1787-1789
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