His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour as fitted at Deptford in 1768.
National Maritime Museum, London

Keith Vincent Smith

The possibility that archaeologists in the United States have located the wreckage of James Cook’s ship HM Bark Endeavour, which reached Botany Bay on 29 April 1770, at Newport, Rhode Island, is not fresh news.

The ‘burial ground’ of several timber ships in mud and silt in the shallow waters at Newport was known in 1984 when I was researching a submission for Christopher Beck of Ron R. Beck Productions for Cook’s Endeavour: A Voyage of Discovery, aimed at producing a feature film or television series for the 200th anniversary of the English ship’s brief stay. In the end no film was produced, but the enquiry was enlightening. 

HMB Endeavour, renamed Lord Sandwich 2, is said to have been scuttled with other British ships at the mouth of Narragansett Bay in August 1778. Time will tell.

This new ‘discovery’ is hardly ‘breaking news’. Just for the record, the assertion that the Lord Sandwich was originally HMB Endeavour surfaced once more on 3 February 2022, but was denied by the Newport Harbour divers.

HMS Resolution in the Long Reach, 1772
Francis Holman
Dixson Galleries
State Library of NSW, Sydney

Perhaps another of James Cook’s ships lies rotting not far from the wreck of the Lord Sandwich (Endeavour)?

Back in 1985 it was thought that HMB Endeavour had been bought by the French sometime after the first voyage and renamed La Liberté. That vessel, carrying a cargo of whale oil, ran aground after it was chased into Newport, Rhode Island by an English frigate in 1793.

It is now believed that La Liberté is the original H.M.S. Resolution (previously The Marquess of Granby), the ship Captain James Cook commanded on his second and third Pacific voyages. Relics from La Liberté were sold as souvenirs of the Endeavour — a tiny sliver of wood went to the moon and back with the United States Apollo 15 mission in 1971 and another with the Australian astronaut Andrew Thomas in the 1990s.

Another claim is that the ex-Endeavour was moored as a hulk on the River Thames, between Woolwich and Greenwich, where it served as a prison hulk for female convicts.


The 2018 exhibition Cook and the Pacific, at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, ACT, ran from September 2018 to 10 February 2019. The curators, Dr. Susannah Helman and Dr. Martin Woods, exhibited the library’s manuscript Journal of HMS Endeavour, handwritten by James Cook and two further Cook journals on loan from the British Library.

Keith Vincent Smith with Tupaia’s painting of Aboriginal nawi (canoes) at Botany Bay, 1770
Add. MS 15508 f.10a, British Library, London
Photo: Andrew Meares, Sydney Morning Herald

They also showed the first pencil and watercolour image of Indigenous People in their nawi (canoes) at Kamay / Botany Bay, painted by the Polynesian high priest Tupaia, which was kindly loaned by the British Library for the exhibition EORA: Mapping Aboriginal Sydney 1770-1850, jointly curated by Ace Bourke and myself at the State Library of New South Wales in 2006.

See my 2005 article Tupaia’s Sketchbook, online at the Electronic British Library Journal at

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2022