Watkin Tench | State Library of New South Wales

Watkin Tench

A narrative of the expedition to Botany Bay: with an account of New South Wales, its productions, inhabitants, &c. : to which is subjoined a list of the civil and military establishments at Port Jackson by Watkin Tench ( 1758 – 1833) was one of the earliest published accounts of the First Fleet voyage and the early settlement of Australia. Before leaving England, Tench made arrangements with Debrett’s of London to record his journey and first impressions of the colony for publication. Tench’s manuscript was taken back to London by John Shortland who sailed for England on the Alexander in July 1788. The first edition appeared in London in 1789. The narrative was immensely popular and several edition were published in 1789 and later years including editions in French, German, Dutch and Swedish. In 1793 Tench completed A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson.

Watkin Tench was a Captain–Lieutenant of the Marine Corps and sailed with the First Fleet on the Charlotte in May 1787.Tench’s narrative is engaging and easy to read. He provides entertaining accounts of the daily activities in the colony and intelligent, often sympathetic, observations of important events, convict life and the nature and status of the Indigenous peoples.  

This copy of Tench’s Narrative was donated to the library in 1952 from the personal collection of Sir William Dixson. It is a bound in a contemporary calf binding with another volume, An Estimate of the temperature of Different Latitude, by Richard Kirwan, 1787.


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