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Captain John Shortland Stipple engraving 1810

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Captain John Shortland


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Antique print relating to Australia


John Shortland (1769 - 1810) was appointed master's mate in the Sirius when the First Fleet sailed for Australia in 1787. Shortland spent nearly five years in Australia including eleven months on Norfolk Island where the Sirius was wrecked in 1790. In 1792 he returned to England with Hunter and next year was promoted lieutenant in the Arrogant. In 1794 he returned to Australia with the new governor, John Hunter, in the Reliance as first lieutenant. In this capacity he was too busy to join his shipmates, George Bass and Matthew Flinders, in their expeditions, but on 9 September 1797, while on his way to Port Stephens in pursuit of some runaway convicts who had seized 'the largest and best boat, belonging to Government', he entered the estuary of the Hunter River, where William and Mary Bryant and their party had probably sheltered briefly when they escaped northwards in 1791. During his brief stay Shortland named the river, though for some years it was often referred to as the Coal River, made the first chart of the harbour in the form of an eye-sketch and collected some samples of coal; in a later letter to his father he predicted that his discovery would prove 'a great acquisition to the settlement'. In 1797 he was granted twenty-five acres (10 ha) at Liberty Plains and in 1800 received from Hunter another 300 acres (121 ha) at Bankstown. However, the steady round of naval duties and service as a member of the Criminal Court at Sydney were for Shortland no substitute for the action and excitement of the naval war in Europe, and in 1800 he returned to England in the Reliance. A few small foxing spots.

Additional Information

artist HR Cook after R Field
method Stipple engraving
date 1810
size 225mm by 135mm (sheet)
SKU AU7112