Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carteret, Philip (d.1796)

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CARTERET, PHILIP (d. 1796), rear-admiral, was lieutenant of the Dolphin in Byron's voyage, 1764–6 [see Byron, John, 1723–1786]. He was appointed commander on his return, May 1766. To complete the work which Byron had begun, a second expedition was soon after his return despatched to the southern hemisphere under the direction of Captain Samuel Wallis, consisting of the Dolphin, commanded by Captain Wallis, and the Swallow, commanded by Carteret. Carteret complained of the Swallow as entirely unfit for the voyage. He was, however, ordered to sail in her, but was separated from the Dolphin while clearing the Straits of Magellan (11 April 1767). He resolved to proceed in his ill-found ship, and after watering at Spanish Isle, Masafuero, discovered Pitcairn's Island on 2 July 1767, which in 1790 was occupied by the mutineers of his majesty's ship Bounty [see Adams, John, 1760?–1829]. Thence proceeding in a north-west direction, he discovered Osnaburg (named after the Duke of York), Duke of Gloucester, and Queen Charlotte Islands, distinguishing the prominent features of each by names which they still continue to possess. In his passage towards New Britain he discovered Gower's, Simpson's, Carteret's, Hardy's, Wallis's, and Leigh's Islands. Arriving at New Britain, he found that an inlet, supposed to be only a bay, was a strait dividing the island into two, and to the second island he gave the name of New Ireland, distinguishing the intersecting channel as St. George's. After discovering and naming the islands of Sandwich, Byron, New Hanover, the Duke of Portland's, the Admiralty, Denven's, Matty's, Stephen's, and Freewill, he proceeded along the coast to Mindanao, where his observations enabled him to check some mistakes made by Dampier in the survey of that island. He reached Macassar 12 Dec. 1767, with a worn-out crew and unseaworthy ship. In June 1768 he reached Batavia, whence he proceeded round the Cape of Good Hope to England, arriving at Spithead on 20 March 1769. On account of the state of his health and the condition of the ship he had latterly to contend with great difficulties, and found it impossible to carry his full purpose into execution, but his actual achievements in his one voyage of two years and a half entitle him to rank among the greatest geographical discoverers of his time.

In 1771 he was appointed to post rank, in 1777 he commanded the Druid frigate in the West Indies, and in 1779 was appointed to the Endymion, 44 guns, with which he joined Rodney. He was too late for the campaign of that year, and finally returned with a convoy from Jamaica in 1781. His health was broken. In 1794 he was retired from the active list with the nominal rank of rear-admiral, and died at Southampton 21 July 1796, ‘having long been afflicted with loss of speech’ (Gent. Mag. lxvi. ii. 622). His ‘Journal’ was published in Hawkesworth's ‘Voyages,’ 1773, which also includes the ‘Voyages’ of Byron, Wallis, and Cook, and was published in German and French the following year. Carteret contributed to ‘Philosophical Transactions’ a note ‘on the Inhabitants of the Coast of Patagonia,’ whose height, he says, varied from six feet to six feet seven inches, and an ‘Account of Camelopardalis found at the Cape of Good Hope’ (Phil. Trans. ix. 20, 27).

[Journal as above; Georgian Era, vol. iii. Appendix, 460–1; Beatson's Naval and Mil. Memoirs, vol. vi.; Navy Lists; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. F. H.