King George (1785 ship)

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Great Britain
Name: King George
Namesake: George III of the United Kingdom
Owner: Etches & Co. (King George's Sound Company)[1]
Builder: South Shields[1][Note 1]
Launched: 1785[1]
Fate: No longer listed in 1796
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 279,[4] 305,[1] or 320[5] (bm)
Complement: 59[5]

King George was a British merchant ship engaged in whaling and the Maritime Fur Trade in the late 18th century. She was launched in 1785 and taken up by the King George's Sound Company. She sailed in 1785 on a voyage of exploration, together with the Queen Charlotte. The two vessels whaled in the South Seas and sought furs in the Pacific Northwest. They returned to England via Canton, where they picked up cargoes for the British East India Company (EIC). Their voyage accomplished a circumnavigation of the world. On her return new owners apparently sailed her between Britain and South Carolina. she is no longer listed in 1796.

Voyage (1785-88)[edit]

In 1785 Richard Cadman Etches and partners, including Nathaniel Portlock and George Dixon, formed a partnership, commonly called the King George's Sound Company, to develop the fur trade. Portlock and Dixon had served in the Pacific on James Cook's third voyage. In September 1785 Portlock, in King George, and Dixon, in the smaller Queen Charlotte, sailed from England. They sailed together for most of their three-year voyage.[6] They crossed the Atlantic Ocean, reaching Port Egmont, in the Falkland Islands, on 5 January 1786.[7] She then transited Cape Horn to enter the Pacific Ocean. They reached the Hawaiian islands on 24 May and anchored in Kealakekua Bay (where Cook had been killed in 1779), but did not go ashore. They took on fresh food at other Hawaiian islands and proceeded on to what is now Alaska.

After two years of plying the waters, Portlock and Dixon departed North America, reaching Macao in November 1787.

In China Portlock picked up a cargo for the British East India Company. Homeward bound, Portlock sailed from China 10 February 1788 and on 13 March reached North Island, the northmost of three islands in the bay that formed the principle anchorage of Enggano Island. King George reached St Helena on 13 June, and arrived at The Downs on 23 August.[8]

On their return Portlock and Dixon each published accounts of their voyage.[9][10]

Year Master Owner Trade
1789 Illegible
R. Brown London—South Carolina
1790 J.Johnson
A. Dansis
R. Brown London—South Carolina
1795 A. Dansis R. Brown London—Charleston

No longer listed in 1796.

See also[edit]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]


  1. ^ The information on the tons burthen, builder, year of launch, and owner differs between two generally high-quality sources, Hackman[2] and Clayton.[3] In this case it is clear that Clayton is correct. Clayton's data matches that in Lloyd's Register (1786), while Hackman's data matches that for the King George one line above the present King George. Also, Hackman misidentifies King George as one of the vessels of the First Fleet, which it was not.


  1. ^ a b c d Lloyd's Register (1786), sequence no. K25.
  2. ^ Hackman (2001), p.236.
  3. ^ Clayton (2014), p.153.
  4. ^ Lloyd's Register (1789), Seq. №K23.
  5. ^ a b Pethick (1976), pp. 96–98
  6. ^ Pethick (1976), pp 97–100.
  7. ^ University of Hull - British Southern Whale Fishery - Voyages: King George.
  8. ^ British Library: King George (5).
  9. ^ Portlock (1789).
  10. ^ Dixon (1789).


  • Clayton, Jane M. (2014) Ships employed in the South Sea Whale Fishery from Britain: 1775-1815: An alphabetical list of ships. (Berforts Group). ISBN 978-1908616524
  • Hackman, Rowan (2001) Ships of the East India Company. (Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society). ISBN 0-905617-96-7
  • Halpenny, Francess G, ed. (1983). "Portlock, Nathaniel". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. V (1801–1820) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 
  • Dixon, George (1789), A voyage round the world but more particularly to the north-west coast of America: performed in 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, in the King George and Queen Charlotte, Captains Portlock and Dixon, London: G. Goulding, OCLC 243542399, OL 22121376M 
  • Pethick, Derek (1976). First Approaches to the Northwest Coast. Vancouver: J.J. Douglas. ISBN 0-88894-056-4. 
  • Portlock, Nathaniel (1789), A voyage round the world but more particularly to the north-west coast of America: performed in 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, in the King George and Queen Charlotte, Captains Portlock and Dixon, London: J. Stockdale, and G. Goulding, OCLC 221899194, OL 6961184M