Instructions for Halley’s second voyage

Halley received his commission to be Master and Commander of Paramore on his second voyage on 23 August 1699, and his instructions for the voyage on the 12 September.

His instructions were almost identical to those he received for his first voyage, namely:

  • to measure the variations of the compass (magnetic variation)
  • to ascertain the latitude and longitude of the places he visits, particularly in the West Indies
  • to discover the unknown lands in the south Atlantic

only this time, the section on the Terra Incognita refers to finding it specifically between the latitudes of 50 and 55 degrees south, which Halley himself asked to be included in his instructions in a letter to the Admiralty.

Here are his instructions in full (remember ye/ym = the/them):

Whereas his Majesty has been pleased to lend his Pink ye Paramour, for your proceeding a second time w:th her on an Expedition to Improve ye knowledge of the Longitude & variation of ye Compass, which ship is now Compleatly mann’d, stored and victualled at his Majesty’s Charge for ye said Expedition, you are therefore hereby required and directed forthwith to proceed with her according to ye following Instructions.

You are without loss of time to Sett Saile with her, and proceed to make a Discovery of ye unknowne South lands between ye Magellan Streights & ye Cape of good hope, between ye Latt:d of 50 & 55 South, if you meete not with ye land sooner observing ye variation of ye Compass with all ye accuracy you can, as also ye True Scituation both in Longitude & Latt:d of ye ports where you arrive.

You are likewise to make ye like observations at as many of ye Islands, in ye Seas between ye aforesaid Coasts, as you can (without too much deviation) bring into your Course.

In your returne home you are to visit ye English West India Plantations, or as many of ym as conveniently you may, & in them to make such observations as may contribute to lay them downe Truly in their Geographicall Scituation, & in all ye Course of your Voyage, you must be carefull to omitt no oppertunity of noting ye variation of ye Compass, of which you are to keep a Register in your Journall.

You are for ye better lengthning out your provisions, to put ye Men under your Comand, when you come out of ye Channell, to six to four Men’s allowance assuring ym that they shall be punctually paid for ye same at ye End of ye Voyage.

You are during ye Terme of this Voyage, to be very carefull in Conforming your selfe to what is directed by ye Generall printed Instructions annexed to your Comission, with regard as well to his Majesty’s honour as to ye Governement of ye ship under your Comand; and when you returne to England, you are to call in at Plymouth, & finding no orders there to ye contrary, to make ye best of your way to ye Downes & remaine there till further order.

Cape Horn is roughly on the same latitude that Halley's headed for (via Wikipedia Commons)

Cape Horn is roughly on the same latitude that Halley’s heading for (via Wikimedia Commons)

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