Childhood & Early Life
Mathew was born to Susannah and Mathew Flinders on the 16th of March, 1774 at Donington village, located in Lincolnshire. He pursued his primary education at a locally situated grammar school.
In 1789, he was appointed as a member the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, the lad was hardly fifteen years old back then. He was initially deputed on ‘HMS Alert’, after which he moved to the vessel ‘HMS Scipio’.
The very next year, he travelled along with the British navy officer William Bligh to Tahiti, a place located in the Pacific Ocean. Transportation of breadfruit was one of the intentions behind this voyage.
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Flinders, next, got the opportunity to be a part of the crew of ‘HMS Reliance’, which also included Captain John Hunter, the Governor of New South Wales aboard. In 1795, this ship travelled to ‘Port Jackson’, located in New South Wales.
During this voyage, Mathew became friends with George Bass, a surgeon whom he met on the ship. These two, later went on to travel together to places like Botany Bay, located in New South Wales, as well as Lake Illawara.
Flinders was eventually promoted to the designation of a lieutenant and given the opportunity to command the vessel ‘Norfolk’ in 1798. The purpose of this journey was to travel through places like Furneaux’s Islands, located between Victoria and Tasmania as well as Van Diemen’s islands. One of the largest islands found during this stretch was later named ‘Flinder’s Islands’.
The sailor then travelled to Moreton Bay, located in the eastern coast of Australia in 1799, on the vessel named ‘Norfolk’.
During one of his voyages, Mathew met the English naturalist and botanist named Sir Joseph Banks. Impressed by Mathew’s skills, Banks helped the sailor command the ship ‘HMS Investigator’ in 1801. The intention of the journey was to explore the coastline of Holland.
During this trip, Flinders also discovered a stretch in the southern coast of Australia, which was christened Cape Leeuwin.
While cruising in the sea in 1802, this sailor spotted a French vessel named ‘Geographe’, which was captained by the renowned explorer Nicolas Baudin. Both Baudin and Flinders bonded well and even shared their experiences. The place where the two explorers first met was named ‘Encounter Bay’, for obvious reasons.
Flinders then reached Sydney in 1803, but wanted to return to his motherland, England. Failing to find a ship which he could command himself, the explorer travelled on a vessel named ‘HMS Purpoise’ as a passenger.
However a tragedy occurred midway in the form of a ship wreck, while Mathew was aboard. His presence of mind helped in rescuing the people on board.
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While returning to England in 1803 on the vessel ‘Cumberland’, the explorer was stranded in the French coast due to problems in the ship which made it difficult to sail further.
On the basis of suspicion, he was arrested by the French governor Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen and released a few years later.
This renowned sailor finally reached England in 1810, after which he worked on making an atlas based on his travel experiences. This work was later named ‘Voyage To Terra Australis’ and released four years later.
Personal Life & Legacy
This explorer tied the knot with his close friend Ann Chappelle, in 1801. The couple then became parents to a girl-child named Anne. The explorer had to stay away from his wife for nine years due to his imprisonment.
Flinders succumbed to his death in London, during the year 1814, at the age of 40.
Quite a few places and institutions in Australia have been named after this great explorer. Some of the prominent ones amongst these include ‘Flinders Ranges National Park’, ‘Mathew Flinders Girls Secondary College’ as well as ‘Flinders Street’, located in Adelaide.
The ‘Australia Post’ department has issued several stamps in Mathew’s honour. The first among these was released in 1964.