Author Tags: 1800-1850, Forts and Fur

The seven-year scientific voyage of the H.M.S. Sulphur to ex-plore the Pacific Ocean and its shorelines began from Plymouth, England, in December of 1835 under the command of Captain Frederick William Beechey, accompanied by the Starling. After Beechey took ill at Valparaiso in Chile, Edward Belcher came aboard as the new captain of the Sulphur in February of 1837 at Panama. Belcher had previously sailed under Captain Beechey as a surveyor on the Blossom. He subsequently undertook surveys of harbours along the coast of California and northwest to Alaska, including Nootka Sound.

From San Blas, H.M.S. Sulphur sailed to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), Prince William Sound, the southern coast of Russian America (Alaska), New Archangel (Sitka), Nootka Sound, San Francisco and Central America. In 1839, the Sulphur and the Starling made a second voyage to some of the same regions, stopping at Kodiak, Fort Vancouver, Fort Ross and Santa Barbara. Other locales visited under Belcher’s command included the Sacramento River, the Marquesas, the Society Islands, the Tonga Islands, the New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands and New Guinea.

In 1843, Sir Edward Belcher (1799–1877) published his two-volume Narrative of a Voyage Round the World, performed in Her Majesty’s ship Sulphur, during the years 1836–1842, including details of the naval operations in China, from Dec. 1840 to Nov. 1841. The fourth chapter provides his account of visiting Nootka Sound in 1837 and his meeting with “Chief Maquilla,” sometimes described as the son-in-law to Maquinna. Belcher’s two-volume book was reviewed by the Edinburgh Review in 1844. The surgeon on the Sulphur, Richard Brinsley Hinds, also published his zoological studies of the voyage, credited to Belcher, and collaborated on a botanical atlas with naturalist G. Bentham.


Belcher, Edward. Narrative of a Voyage Round the World, performed in Her Majesty's ship Sulphur, during the years 1836-1842, including details of the naval operations in China, from Dec. 1840 to Nov. 1841 (London: Henry Colburn, 1843).

Belcher, Edward & Richard Brinsley Hinds (uncredited). The Botany... [and] The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur... (London: Smith, Elder, 1843, 1846). Two Volumes.

Belcher, Edward. H.M.S. Sulphur on the Northwest and California Coasts, 1837 and 1839: Being the accounts of Midshipman Francis Guillemard Simpkinson and Captain Edward Belcher (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1969; Kingston: Limestone Press, 1979). Edited by Richard A. Pierce & John H. Winslow. Simpkinson's manuscript journal in the University Library of Cambridge University.

[BCBW 2006] "Forts and Fur" "1800-1850" "Indianology"