Wallis, Samuel (DNB00)

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WALLIS, SAMUEL (1728–1795), captain in the navy, born at Fentonwoon, near Camelford, Cornwall, and baptised at Lanteglos on 23 April 1728, was the third son of John Wallis of Fentonwoon (1680–1768) by Sarah (d. 1731), daughter of John Barrett. After serving through the war in a subordinate grade, Wallis was promoted to be lieutenant in the navy on 19 Oct. 1748. In January 1753 he was appointed to the Anson, with Captain Charles Holmes [q. v.], and in April 1755 to the Torbay, the flagship of Vice-admiral Edward Boscawen [q. v.] In February 1756 he joined the Invincible, and on 30 June was promoted to command the Swan sloop. On 8 April 1757 he was posted to the Port Mahon, a 20-gun frigate attached to the fleet which went out to North America with Admiral Francis Holburne [q. v.] In September 1758 he was appointed by Boscawen to the Prince of Orange of 60 guns, one of the fleet, in the following year, with Sir Charles Saunders [q. v.] in the St. Lawrence. On the North American station in 1760 and in the Channel fleet in 1761–2 he commanded the Prince of Orange till the peace. In June 1766 he was appointed to the Dolphin, then refitting for another voyage similar to that which she had just made under the command of Commodore John Byron (1723–1786) [q. v.] In the Dolphin, and having in company the Swallow sloop, commanded by Philip Carteret [q. v.], Wallis sailed from Plymouth on 22 Aug. After touching at Madeira, Porto Praya in the Cape Verd Islands, and Port Famine, where they cleared out and dismissed their victualler, the two ships passed through the Straits of Magellan and came into the Pacific on 12 April 1767. Then they separated, nor did they again meet. Wallis, in the Dolphin, at once kept away to the north-west, taking a course totally different from that followed by all his predecessors, none of whom, in fact, except Magellan and Byron, had primarily aimed at discovery. The others, whether Spaniards or Englishmen looking out for Spaniards, had stuck close to the track of the Spanish trade. The result was that Wallis opened out a part of the ocean till then unknown, and first brought to European knowledge the numerous islands of the Low Archipelago and of the Society Islands, including Tahiti, which he called King George the Third's Island. Thence he made for Tinian, which he reached on 19 Aug., having discovered many new islands on the way. After staying a month at Tinian, he went to Batavia, and thence home by the Cape of Good Hope, arriving in the Downs on 18 May 1768. Without having displayed any particular genius as a navigator or discoverer, Wallis is fully entitled to the credit of having so well carried out his instructions as to add largely to our knowledge of the Pacific; and still more to that of having kept his ship's company in fairly good health. During the whole voyage, though thrown entirely on their own resources, there was no serious outbreak of scurvy, and when the ship arrived at Batavia there was one man sick. Batavia was then and always a pestilential hole, and while there many men died of fever and dysentery; but on leaving Batavia the sickness at once abated, and a month in Table Bay did away with much of the remaining evil. In November 1770 Wallis was appointed to the Torbay, commissioned on account of the dispute with Spain about the Falkland Islands; and in 1780 he for a short time commanded the Queen. In 1782 he was appointed an extra commissioner of the navy; the office was abolished in 1783, but was reinstituted in 1787, when Wallis was again appointed to it, and remained in it till his death at Devonshire Street, Portland Place, London, on 21 Jan. 1795. His widow Betty, daughter of John Hearle of Penryn, died at Mount's Bay on 13 Nov. 1804, leaving no issue.

Wallis's account of his voyage, first printed in Hawkesworth (1733), was repeated in Hamilton Moore's ‘Collection of Voyages’ (1785), in Robert Wilson's ‘Voyages’ (1806), in Kerr's ‘General History of Voyages’ (1814), and in Joachim Heinrich Campe's collection (Brunswick, 1831). Some of the charts and maps made by Wallis are in Addit. MS. 21593.

[Gent. Mag. 1804, ii. 1080; Maclean's Trigg Minor, ii. 370 sq.; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornubiensis, p. 850; Charnock's Biogr. Nav. vi. 277; Naval Chronicle, xxxiii. 89; Hawkesworth's Voyages of Discovery, vol. i.; Commission and Warrant books in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.