K1 chronometer timepiece

Captain Cook’s timepiece

Captain Cook’s timepiece was used on his second (1771 – 1775) and third (1776 – 1780) voyages, then issued to Captain Arthur Phillip by the Board of Longitude for the First Fleet voyage to the new colony aboard HMS Sirius.  Known as K1 chronometer, made by Larcum Kendall, it was transferred to HM Supply during the voyage of the First Fleet.

Astronomer Lieutenant William Dawes used the K1 chronometer in Sydney and it was eventually returned back to HMS Sirius for its voyage to Cape Town to source provisions and much needed supplies in October 1788. Captain Cook’s timepiece arrived back in England aboard HM Supply in April 1792. Today this K1 chronometer timepiece (image) is National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory Greenwich, England.

Also aboard the HM Supply for the journey back to Port Jackson in late March 1790 was the precious item from HMS Sirius, Captain Cook’s time piece.

It is not known if Captain Cook’s timepiece was sent ashore before or after the masts was cut down at the time of the wreck. Able seaman Jacob Nagle wrote “the crew were able get one boat alongside, and send safely ashore Captain Cook’s timepiece … Captain Hunter then ordered the mast to be cut away by cutting the lanyards and rigging. Whilst Midshipman Newtown Fowell wrote “The timekeeper was sent on shore in the first boat (from the wreck of HMS Sirius) but in the hurry it was forgot to be wound up, so was let down for the second time since our leaving England”.[1]

[1] Jacob Nagle, Jacob Nagle his Book A.D. One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty Nine May 19th. Canton. Stark County Ohio, 1775-1802; Newtown Fowell letter to his father, 31 July 1790 Batavia, HRA, Series 1, Volume 1, pp. 373 – 386.