Royal Navy Gores in Australia—part one

Royal Navy Gores in Australia—part one
In the Treasures Gallery
6 May 2015

John Webber's (1752–1793) Portrait of Captain John Gore (1780) and his Log of the Voyage of H.M.S. Dolphin to the South Seas, 1766– 1767 are only two metres away from Cook's Journal of H.M.S. Endeavour, 1768–1771 in the Treasures Gallery. Gore was third in command on the Endeavour and had already circumnavigated the world twice, both times on H.M.S. Dolphin under Wallis (1764–1766) and then Byron (1766–1767) who recommended Tahiti as a site for transit observations.

Webber, J. (1752–1793) Portrait of John Gore  1780, oil on canvas, nla.pic-an2256760

Gore, newly commissioned as Lieutenant, six other crew and the H.M.S. Dolphin mascot goat, changed ships with an eight week turnaround for the Cook first voyage. Gore signed off his Dolphin Log with ‘Master Hunter’ and it was he who fished for stingrays on 6 May 1770 causing Cook to name the bay Stingray Harbour, later changed to Botany Bay. Gore under Banks’ instructions also shot the first kangaroo in July 1770 at Endeavour River Cooktown. 

Graham Gore letter to sister Eliza (detail)  5 April 1842, Gore Family Papers, MS 7955, National Library of Australia

Whilst Cook was preparing for his second voyage (1772–1775), Gore was persuaded by Banks to command a brig taking Banks and Solander to Iceland (1772–1773). Although not married, Gore had a relationship resulting in his son, John Gore, born March 1774. In July 1776, readying to sail again with Cook on his third voyage, Gore wrote to Banks about watching over his toddler son, “the Young One whom you were so kind as to promise attention to in case of my death is under the care of Reverend Firebrass...enclosed you have my will...”

After Cook’s death, February 1779, witnessed by Gore on H.M.S. Resolution, his deputy Charles Clerke, despite illness, continued exploration of the Northwest Passage but Clerke died that August in the Bering Sea. It was thus left to John Gore, with assistance from his navigator William Bligh, to complete the voyage for another fourteen months arriving in England late 1780. Gore was soon promoted to Post Captain, awarded Cook’s rooms in Greenwich and lived there until his death in 1790.

Rear Admiral John Gore (1774–1853)

Gore's son first went to sea in 1785 aged 11 on a four year circumnavigation trading voyage including the Arctic Pacific, under Portlock and Dixon who had also been with Cook on his third voyage. He began his Royal Navy career as a RN midshipman in 1789. He was with Portlock and under Bligh in the 1791–1794 Breadfruit expedition from Tahiti. He served with distinction during the Napoleonic War and was commended for bravery in 1804 for the capture of three Spanish ships. In 1806, after Trafalgar, he married Sarah Gilmour and on half pay began a family—eventually three sons and three daughters. He was promoted to commander in 1808 and captain in 1821. Whilst captain of H.M.S. Dotterel, 1818–1821, he was able to take on as crew his two eldest sons John and Graham, 10 and 11 years old. Later they also were to enter the Royal Navy as midshipmen.

Captain John Gore, in 1835, at 60 years of age and a restless man like his father, decided to become a free settler in Australia which he had never visited. After nearly a year in Parramatta, John Gore selected an initial 1650 acres at Lake Bathurst near Canberra which he named Gilmour, his wife’s maiden name, and the station name is still used today. He was awarded rank of Post Captain—Rear Admiral in 1851. His two daughters and youngest son are buried in the St John’s Lake Bathurst cemetery. Eldest son John was lost at sea in 1825.

Commander Graham Gore (1809–1847)