Charles Clerke

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Captain Charles Clerke, by Nathaniel Dance-Holland , 1776

Charles Clerke (born August 22, 1741 in Wethersfield , Essex , England , † August 22, 1779 at sea off Kamchatka , Russia ) was a British navigator and companion of John Byron and James Cook on their voyages of discovery in the South Seas.

Charles Clerke was born on a farm as the fourth son of a judge in Wethersfield, a village in Essex . At the age of 13 he went to the Royal Navy Academy in Portsmouth and became a cadet . During the Seven Years' War he served on the Dorsetshire and Bellona . From 1764 to 1766 he went on a circumnavigation of the world with the Dolphin under the command of Captain John Byron , with many islands being discovered for Europe.

On the first voyage of James Cook (1768–1771) he was a midshipman on the ship HMB Endeavor . On the second voyage (1772-1775) he was assigned as Lieutenant of the Resolution . On the third voyage (1776–1779) he was captain on the HMS Discovery .

After James Cook was stabbed to death by the locals in Hawaii in 1779 , Clerke took command of the resolution and of the entire expedition and sailed north to seek a passage from the Arctic Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean (see Northwest Passage ). But he had to return to Kamchatka without success and died of tuberculosis off the coast of Kamchatka . The body of Charles Clerke was buried on August 29, 1779 near the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky , Kamchatka, Russia .

The grave of Charles Clerke (right) in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 1979

John Gore , second officer on the Discovery, took command of the expedition and sailed back to England, where the ships arrived in 1780.

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