GRANT, James (1772-1833)

GRANT, James (1772-1833)
was born in 1772. At the end of 1799 he was given command of the Lady Nelson, a new vessel of 60 tons fitted with a centre-board keel. His instructions were to proceed to Australia to prosecute "the discovery and survey of the unknown parts of the coast of New Holland". He left England on 18 March 1800 and at the Cape of Good Hope received a letter from the Duke of Portland instructing him to sail through the newly-discovered Bass Strait. Grant came in sight of Australia near the present boundary of South Australia and Victoria on 3 December 1800, and the Lady Nelson successfully passed through the strait, the first ship sailing from England to Australia to do so. Grant arrived at Sydney on 16 December. He had been instructed to join H.M.S. Supply at Sydney, but she was laid up as a hulk, and Governor King (q.v.) reappointed him to the Lady Nelson. He was ordered to return and survey the deep bay which he had sailed across in Bass Strait, and in fact to make a general survey of the south coast. He left on 6 March 1801, got as far as Western Port of which a survey was made, and was back at Sydney on 14 May. On 10 June Grant sailed to the Hunter River conveying Lieut.-colonel Paterson (q.v.), to consider the question of a settlement there and the probable extent of the coal deposits. On 31 August Grant asked permission to return to Europe which was granted. It is evident that King was not satisfied with Grant's work on his voyage to Bass Strait, and Grant, though an excellent seaman, was himself conscious of his want of knowledge of nautical surveying. After his return Grant published in 1803 his Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery which was shortly afterwards translated into Dutch and German. He reached the rank of commander in 1805, was given a pension in 1806 for wounds received in action, and afterwards was in command of the Raven and Thracian sloops. He died at St Servan, France, on 11 November 1833.
Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols. II to IV; Grant's Voyage of Discovery; The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 104, p. 343; Ida Lee, The Logbooks of the "Lady Nelson".

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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