Turnbull, John (DNB00)

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TURNBULL, JOHN (fl. 1800–1813), traveller, was a sailor in the merchant service. While second mate of the Barwell in 1799 he visited China, and came to the conclusion that the Americans were carrying on a lucrative trade in north-west Asia. On his return home he induced some enterprising merchants to fit out a vessel to visit those parts. Sailing from Portsmouth in May 1800 in the Margaret, a ship of ten guns, he touched at Madeira and at Cape Colony, which had recently passed into British hands. On 5 Jan. 1801 he arrived at Botany Bay. The north-west speculation turning out a failure, Turnbull resolved to visit the islands of the Pacific, and devoted the next three years to exploring New Zealand, the Society Islands, the Sandwich Islands, and many parts of the South Seas. At Otaheite he encountered the agents of the London Missionary Society, to whose zeal he bore testimony while criticising their methods. After visiting the Friendly Islands he returned home by Cape Horn in the Calcutta, arriving in England in June 1804. In the following year he published the notes of his travels, under the title ‘A Voyage round the World,’ London, 8vo. Turnbull's narrative is interesting, his criticisms being often acute and always temperate. He deals with a period when the Australian colonies were in their infancy and the South Seas little known. A second edition of the work appeared in 1813 with considerable additions. The first edition was published in an abbreviated form in ‘A Collection of Voyages and Travels,’ vol. iii. London, 1806, 4to.

[Turnbull's Voyage round the World; Edinburgh Review, 1806, ix. 332; Gent. Mag. 1813, i. 547.]

E. I. C.