A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean.

BURNEY James (1817.)

£15000.00  [First Edition]

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.


Part I. Commencing with an Account of the earliest Discoveries of that Sea by Europeans, And terminating with the Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, in 1579. [Part II. From the Year 1597, to the Year 1620; Part III. From the Year 1620, to the Year 1688; Part IV. To the Year 1723, including a History of the Buccaneers of America; Part V. To the Year 1764].

First edition. 5 vols (bound in 4). 28 engraved maps, 15 of which are folding (some with the usual offsetting), with 13 engraved plates, 5 further illustrations in text. 4to. Half calf over marbled paper covered boards, recased with original spines laid down, some corners renewed. Discreet Ex Libris label to front pastedown of "Volkmann".  Spines tooled, titled and ruled in gilt. xii, [8], 391, [1]; vi, [10], 482; [10], 437, [1]; xviii, 580; viii, 178, [2], 179-337, [1]pp.  London, Hansard et al, 1803 -

A handsome set of this important collection which was compiled to complement Hawkesworth and the two other Cook voyages, the whole to comprise a complete account of Pacific exploration.


James Burney (1750-1821) was born in London and his career at sea commenced when he was ten, first as captain's servant on Princess Amelia, then midshipman on the frigate Aquilon. "In 1772 Burney's father used his influence with his friend John Montagu, fourth earl of Sandwich, first lord of the Admiralty, to procure James a berth as able seaman in Captain James Cook's ship, the Resolution, on Cook's second voyage of discovery to the south seas. Cook's expedition departed in June, and in November Burney was transferred to the Resolution's sister-ship, the Adventure, as second lieutenant, his first commission ... From 1776 to 1780 he sailed on Cook's third voyage of discovery, and witnessed Cook's killing by Hawaiians in 1779. During the voyage he was several times passed over for promotion because of an early altercation with his immediate superior, Captain Charles Clerke, commander of the Discovery. Only at the very end of the voyage was he promoted from first lieutenant to command of the Discovery, after Clerke's death" (ODNB).


James Burney remained active between commissions. In 1774, he was Omai's interpreter during his time in England, and while waiting for his next commission in 1789 commenced writing. Literature was strong in the Burney family, both of his sisters Frances (1752-1840) and Sarah (1772-1844) were novelists. James Burney's first publication was the official account of William Bligh's A Voyage to the South Sea in HMS Bounty (London 1792). Bligh too had sailed on Cook's third voyage and also had something of a temper. They were natural allies.

Published over nearly fifteen years, this work is his greatest achievement with the pen. Among the voyages included are those of Ferdinand Magellan, Garcia Jofre de Loaisa, Simon de Alcazova, Francisco Ulloa, Francis Drake, George Anson, and Louis Bougainville. Two years later, he published a complimentary title, A Chronological History of North-Eastern Voyages of Discovery (London, 1819).


Hill states that "many of the voyages to California would be inaccessible were they not... [here] collected" calling the work the "most important general history of early South Sea discoveries, containing practically everything of importance on the subject..."


Hill, 221; Sabin, 9387; Ferguson, 372.

Stock Code: 247741

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