Captain Thomas Melvill, SV/PROG

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Captain Thomas Melvill, SV/PROG

Birthdate: (55)
Birthplace: North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland
Death: March 15, 1814 (55)
Cape Town, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Melvill and Margaret Melvill
Husband of Jennett Melvill
Father of Jennett Evans and John Thomas Melvill, SV/PROG ?

Occupation: Master Mariner, commander of the Britannia in the Third Fleet and later of the Speedy, Master mariner.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Captain Thomas Melvill, SV/PROG

Witnesses William Ross, Margraite Thomas(or Thomes) =South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland 04.05.1755

  • Christening: Oct 19 1758 - North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland
  • Parents: Thomas Melvil, Margaret Melvill ( nee Reid)
  • Married on 21st November, 1780 St. George in the East, London,.by Rodk. MacLeod, Curate:

to Janet Melvin, born Leith, Scotland 1755

Thomas Melvill was a Scot, a master mariner. He was at sea for nearly 30 years and as an experienced commander had become a valuable man, He had rounded Cape Horn a number of times and was the a whaling captain knowing most of the new whaling opportunities in the Pacific, off Peru and New South Wales. Other issues besides whaling that were playing out in the British parliment and in the course of his travels he passed the Cape of Good Hope several times bound for the South American whaling grounds.

 In 1790  He rounded the Cape and 55 days later he reached Port Jackson, New South Wales.

In 1791 Thomas Melvill, then Commander of the Brittania; working for Enderby and Sons, carried convicts to Australia departing 27 March 1791. Britannia, one of 11 ships that departed from Plymouth in the United Kingdom as part of the 3rd Fleet, bound for the New South Wales penal settlement. She carried 150 male convicts to Port Jackson, with 21 deaths being recorded for her voyage. 14th October, 1791 Arrived in Sydney Cove carrying 129 convict. .1 in 7 convicts died on the voyage and many were in poor health on arrival. The voyage had taken 201 days. Henry Townsend , convicted for committing an armed robbery, was one of those convicts who died within 2 months of landing at Sydney leaving behind a wife and 6 children of whom there are many descendants. I have made contact with Walter Townsend who has given me fresh insight (Tessa)

On Arrival in Sydney the found the Colony was starving due to poor harvests and when Melvill reported to the Governor that they had seem many whales, he was given every assistance to go whaling as soon as possible. The Governor, Arthur Phillip, who had begun his maritime career on the British northern whaler Fortune in 1753.

In 1797 Thomas Melvill signed his will on the 8th June in London. February 1800 with his wife Janet (born in Leith, Scotland) he left England to go into business at the Cape of Good Hope. He had with him his family and his son John and daughter Jennett and they arrived at Simons Bay in May 1800. His daughter Jennett married the surveyor and explorer George Evans in 1798 who was on the voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. He then bought a small schooner of 20 tons which he named the Saldanah Bay Packet, and they embarked for Saldanha Bay where he had bought a share in the farm Geytenbergsfontein where he intented carrying on the Whale Fisher, in partnership with some other Masters of ships. He used his life saving amounting to some two or three thousand pounds sterling. After a month John was sent to Cape Town to school, but after 9 months Thomas' partners withdrew and John came back to Saldanah Bay to help with the farm,burning lime and fishing by which they barely gained a livelihood. John worked hard in association with 1 Mozambiquan slave, but learned some seamanship. This was a financially draining venture and he lost most of his money in this undertaking

1801, after only 6 months, with the signing of the Treaty of Amiens, this was all ended when, France and England had declared war , the Dutch took control of the Cape and many English residents were told to leave. It was at this time that Melvill's daughter Jennett and her husband left South Africa and went to live in Australia. The remaining English inhabitants were all British subjects were expected swear allegiance to the Dutch crown or ordered to Stellenbosch, as prisoners of the Dutch. Thomas and his son John remained there for the duration of the Dutch occupation of the Cape. It was in Stellenbosch, where he and his son John, constructed a wooden boat. This information is from the Journal of John Melvill with information collated by JM Marquard

Circa 1807 After the second British Occupation he opened the ships-chandler store "Melvill and Johnson" in Strand street Cape Town, and in 1808 they bought the premises and conducted business until 1813. The partnership dissolved and

15th March 1814 † he died in Cape Town (aged 56). Leaving an estate valued at Rix dollars 1106;

In his inventory MOOC 8/32.14 (translated from Dutch)

`all such goods on Tuesday 15th day of this current month Mar in the year 1814 ,when  the morning the bells rang at  about 6 o'clock.
Mr Thomas Melvill  in a  will previously executed before 3 persons on the 8th June 1797 in London,   Left his possessions to his only surviving  adult relatives, namely his 2 children, Jenet Melvill married to George William Evans living in New South Wales and John Melvill.


the following possessions is found to exist of  : Two pieces of land with buildings thereon. 

Lastly the deceased left to Housewife Jennet Melvill by testament to her legacy a hundred pounds sterling is listed at the aforementioned John Melvill still has an open company account with Joseph Johnston. that the inventory has one outstanding debt. Outstanding was in one letter to hand from JHM Kock of the 4th June 1812 for tea that was bought for 50 Rix dollars The servant named Mamsie , a servant, for the last 15 years, given by the Government to the clerk C Blair as payment given a girl (unnamed) younger than 12 years, left behind by the previous incumbent, by Captain Mackey , The estate values by The Board of the Community at Rix dollars 1106

Included in these terms and conditions of the Westminster resolution of the 15th day

by us the undersigned committee at Westminster
on 24th March 1814  
BRITANNIA I was built 1783 at Bridgeport. She was a fully rigged wood ship of 301 for and owned by Le Messurier in 1790,her master at that time was Captain T. Pace.  She was sold to S. Enderby for whaling and use as a store ship,  After this, Enderby's ships Speedy, Britannia and Ocean frequently sailed from Port Jackson whaling  Eventually, she was taken over by Captain Robert Turnbull who had her for her second voyage to Sydney with convicts in 1798.   The Indian And Pacific Oceans were forbidden to any British ship that was not of the Royal Navy or the East India Company; The Elizabethan charter forming this company forbade any other British shipping from going East of Cape Of Good Hope. 

The whalers led by Samuel Enderby said that the charter did not say anything about going west of Cape Horn, which of course leads to the same places as going east of Cape Town. This led the British Government to give three bonuses to the first to third ships that sailed into the pacific by going west of Cape Horn and returning to London with oil- the bonuses were 800,700,& 600 pounds.

The first was granted to Enderby ship Emelia which rounded the Horn in 1788,The first vessel that conducted whaling operations in the Southern Ocean was the 270-ton British  Emilia  owned by Samuel Enderby and Sons. The vessel departed London in  Australia's Founding year, on September 1788 and went west around Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean. 

In 1788, Archelus Hammond, a Nantucketer and first mate on the English whaler Emi lia, harpooned the first sperm whale taken off the coast off Chile in March 1789, which is considered the starting year of ‘Classical Whaling’ by foreign countries in Chile. The Emilia returned toLondon in March of 1790.

Emelia returned to England too soon, to qualify she had to await down river untill qualifying time, The Enderby ship Friendship captained by Thomas Melvill was second collecting the 600 pounds

By 1789 Enderbys had further researched the waters by Peru with Emilia, followed for them, by Friendship. the strangle hold the Dutch East India Trading company had, which would need an Act of Parliment to change, was amanded to allow the whalers access to the trade zones.

Britannia, became the first ship to take sperm whales on the Australian coast; though hampered by bad weather the master reported that 'if a voyage can be got upon this coast, it will make it shorter than going to Peru'

He was presented with a Silver Cup with the inscription: The gift of His Excellency, Arthur Phillips, Esq.,Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of His Majesty's Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, to Thomas Melvill,Commander of the Britannia, for killing a Spermaceti Whale on the 26 th October 1791. Being the first of its kind taken on this coast since the Colony was established.

This cup was in the possession of Mrs Edward H V Melvill of Johannesburg in 1977.

Manuscript land document, Sydney, 1794 [WEBB, Robert; MELVILLE, Thomas] # 516 Manuscript land indenture for the sale of 90 acres for 5 shillings. Sydney, 28 July 1794. Robert Webb, of Parramatta,settler; to Melvill(e), Thomas master of the ship Speedy now riding in Sydney Cove. [See Title Register Book vol. 524 Fol. 39). Single sheet, 320 x 400 mm (folded). Robert Webb had obtained this land through two earlier government grants, dated 22 February 1792 and 25 July 1794 (three days before this sale), respectively. The land is referred to in the document as “Webb’s Farm” and is described as “laying on the North side of the Creek, leading to Parramatta”, in the County of Cumberland. Although James Ruse had begun cultivation at Parramatta in late 1789, Robert Webb was the first settler to cultivate land in the area known specifically as “the Creek leading to Parramatta” (A Return of Land in Cultivation at the Different Settlements,16th October 1792).

Between 1791 and 1796 Thomas Melvill was whaling on board the Britannia and then the Speedy of the coast of Chile and Peru. The diary, written by the ship's surgeon of this time is in the Mitchell Library in Sydney With the outbreak of war with France Melvill applied for the authority to attack French vessels off Nova Scotia 1793 July 10 A commission granted by Wentworth, to Britannia in 1793 was the first of about thirty given to armed trading ships in Halifax during the wars with France Thomas Melvill master of the ship Britannia burthen 301 tons bound for England did apply to me for a Letter of Marque and Reprisal against the French which I would have granted, but that the authority to me from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty for that purpose has not yet arrived. In the meantime I have assured the said Thomas Melvill...that His Majesty will consider him as having a just claim to the Kings share of all French ships and property which he may make prize of."

Wentworth was well within his right to issue these "commissions in lieu," as they came to be called Spain 

These were not privateers in the strict sense, as their primary purpose was still to carry cargo. Moreover, they are easily distinguished from privateers by their relatively small man-ton ratios & Making voyages to stated destinations and paying crews wages rather than shares,

1794: Speedy (1). Owned by Samuel Enderby Snr. - Captain Thomas Melville. 8 Jun 1794-2 Aug 1794. Delivers food supplies, to Sydney and thence whaling

Scarborough Convict Transport – 430 Tons, 111 ft. (33.8m.) long, 30 ft. (9.1m.) beam: Owners: Thomas George & John Hopper

Built at Scarborough in 1782.  For the First Fleet voyage she carried 30 Crew plus 50 Marines, and with 201 male Convicts (1dv).
The "Scarborough" sailed back to England  and arrived back in the UK on 28 May 1789 when it sailed into the Downs. Upon return the vessel underwent repairs to make her suitable for a new voyage to Australia
The Scarborough, again under the command of John Marshall, also took part in the Second Fleet. In November 1789, many of the 259 male convicts coming aboard were in poor health and did not survive the voyage; this combined with an attempted seizure of the ship by the convicts, deterred Marshall from any further voyages of transportation but 73 convicts had died by the time Scarborough  arrived in Sydney Cove on 28 June 1790.

She was the only ship of the First Fleet to return to Australia apart from the "Sirius" and the "Supply" which sailed to Cape Town and back.

The Scarborough  sailed for Canton on 8th August, arriving safely in London some-time between August and October 1791
Fate of  Scarborough:Under a new master and with major repairs Scarborough was employed on the London to St Petersburg route. With changes in ownership and masters, Scarborough was employed on the London to St Vincent (Caribbean) run and the London-West Indies /St Vincent run.   In that year the vessel suffered a major accident (partially broke up) and underwent 'good repair' including resheeting. It was then employed on the London to St.Petersburg route. The rebuilt and resurveyed vessel had its formal tonnage reduced from 600 to 411, a figure which is close to that determined by the Admiralty in 1786.   From 1793 it was given a new master, M. Hodgson, and employed on the London to St.Petersburg route. In 1795 it underwent repairs and was hereafter listed as 'London Transport." In the following year the ship was sold to S.Wharton, who took off two of the guns.  In 1798 the command was handed to a G. Fryer. Later that year the ship was sold to G.Blakey, who appointed P.Levitt as master. The Scarborough had some damages repaired and was partly resheeted and then, armed with 6 four-pounder guns, employed on the London to Jamaica run under the command of P.Levitt.  

In 1800 the vessel was owned by a Kensington, now employed on the London to St.Vincent (Carribean) run with a J.Scott as new master. During that year the ship was almost rebuilt and completely resheeted. Under the command of T. Melvill the Scarborough was employed on the London-West Indies / St. Vincent run in 1801 to 1803, by which time it still carried six guns. In 1804 and 1805 the vessel was used in the London to Tobago run. This would be after the time Thomas Melvill was living in South Africa.

The last entry for the vessel can be found in Lloyd’s Register for 1805, twenty-three years after it was built. . List of ships commanded by Thomas Melvill BRITANNIA OF LONDON No 245 in 1790 Appointed master 31 December 1790 and in command until 16th October 1793 Owners Samuel and Charles Enderby of Paul's Wharf, Thames Street, London. Under the command of Nathaniel Goodspeed the ship was wrecked at 0200 on the morning of 25 August 1806. It was wrecked on either Middleton Reef or Elizabeth Reef some 297 miles East of the Clarence River Heads in New South Wales, off Lord Howe Island . The ship struck the reef several times before being lifted onto the reef where its back was broken. The lifeboats were lowered. One was immediately smashed but two others with nineteen men aboard got away. Five men stayed aboard. Two were rescued the next day while the other three found another boat and launched it with water and biscuits in it. The three boats with 24 men aboard headed for Newcastle. On the 29th of August one of the boats carrying eight men was separated from the other two by a gale. It was never seen again. The survivors reached Newcastle on 8 September and Port Jackson on 13 September 1806 Vessel Lost in 1806 in New Zealand.

SPEEDY OF LONDON No 220 in 1793 Appointed Master at London 12th November 1793, in command until April 1797 Vessel reported to have been captured by a French Privateer registry closed Jan 1807

TABAGO OF LONDON No 138 in 1797 Appointed Master London 3rd June 1797 and in command until some time in 1799 Owners James &Thomas Mather and John Anderson, Merchants of Mark Lane, London

SCARBOROUGH OF LONDON, No 274 in 1798 Appointed master 18th December 1799 and in command until 2nd December 1800 Owner Charles Kensington and William Wiggen, Merchants, of Bishopsgate Street, London. The Samuel Enderby Book Whaling Documents 1775-1790. (Originals held at the Pennsylvania Historical Society, 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA. USA. Canberra, Australian National Library, Petherick Collection of Manuscripts, Ms 1701. Used by permission).

1786...below...... 1786..... 1786......Stainforth, London, Phoenix, Capt. T. Melville, Samuel Enderby Book, 1788 Yorke, Bristol, New Hope, Capt. T. Melville 1789... S. Enderby and Sons, London, Friendship, Capt. T. Melville,

This is a letter written to his employer, Sam Enderby and Sons. Note that NSW had only very recently been settled for the first time.

Ship Britannia,

Sydney, Port Jackson.

Nov. 22nd, 1791.

To Messrs. Sam. Enderby & Sons,


I have the pleasure to inform you of our safe arrival in Port Jackson in New South Wales, October 13th after a passage of 55 days from the Cape of Good Hope. We was only six weeks from the Cape to Van Diemens Land, but met with contrary winds after we doubled Van Diemen's Land, which made our passage longer than I expected.

We parted company with our agent the next day after we left the Cape of Good Hope and never saw him again till we arrived at Port Jackson both in one day. The Albemarle and us sailed much alike. The Admiral Barrington arrived three days after us. I am very well myself thank God, and all the crew are in high spirits. We lost in all on our passage from England twenty one convicts and one soldier. We had one birth on our passage from the Cape. I try'd to make and made Island of Amsterdam and made it in the I,longitude of 76.4.14.E from Greenwich by a good lunar observation. My intention was to run close to it to discover whether the Sealing business might not have been carried on there but the weather was so bad and thick weather coming on, I did not think it prudent to attempt it, likewise to lose a night's run and a fair wind blowing. The day before we made it we saw two shoals of Sperm Whales. After we doubled the South West Cape of Van Diemens Land we saw a large Sperm Whale off Maria's Islands but did not see any more being very thick weather and blowing hard till within 15 leagues of the latitude of Port Jackson Within three leagues of the shore we saw Sperm Whales in great plenty. We sailed through different shoals of them from 12 o'clock in the day till sunset, all round the horizon, as far as I could see from the mast head. In fact I saw very great prospects in making our fishery upon this coast and establishing a fishery here. Our people was in the highest spirits at so great a sight and I was determined as soon as I got in and got clear of my live lumber, to make all possible despatch on the Fishery on this Coast.

On our arrival here I waited upon His Excellency, Governor Phillip and delivered my letters to him. I had the mortification to find he wanted to despatch me with my convicts to Norfolk Island and likewise wanted to purchase our Vessel to stay in the Country, which I refused to do. I immediately told him secret of seeing the whales thinking that would get me off going to Norfolk Island that there was a prospect of establishing a fishery here and might be of service to the Colony and left him. I waited upon him two hours afterwards with a box directed to him. He took me into a Private Room, he told me he had read my letters and that he would render me every service, that lay in his power: that next morning he would dispatch every long boat in the fleet to take our convicts out and take on our stores immediately which he did accordingly and he did everything to dispatch us on the Fishery. Captain King used all his interest in the business. He gave his kind respects to you. The secret of seeing the whales, our sailors could not keep from the rest of the whalers here, the news put them all to the stir, but have the pleasure to say we was the first ship ready for sea. Notwithstanding they had been some of them a month arrived before us. We went out in Company with the Will and Ann,] the 11th day after our arrival. The next day after we went out, we had very bad weather and fell in with a very great number of Sperm Whales. At sun rising in the morning we could see them all round the horizon we run through them in different bodies till two o'clock in the afternoon when the weather abated a little, but a very high sea running. I lowered away two boats, and Bunker followed the example in less than two hours we had seven whales killed but unfortunately a heavy gale came on from the S.W. and took the ship aback with a squall that the ship could only fetch two of them, the rest we was obliged to cut from and make the best of our way on board to save the boats and crew. The William and Ann saved one, and we took the other, and rode by them all night with a heavy gale of wind. Next morning it moderated. We took her in. She made us twelve barrels. We saw large whales next day hut was not able to lower away our boats. We saw whales every day for a week after, hut the weather being so bad we could not attempt to lower a boat down. We cruised fifteen days in all having left our 60 Shake's of Butts on shore with the Gorgon's cooper to sett up in our absence which Capt. Parker was so kind as to let us have, and wanting to purchase more casks of Mr Calvert's ships and having no prospect of getting any good weather I thought it most prudent to come iii and refit the Ship and compleat my casks and fill my water, and by that time the weather would be more moderate. The day after we came in the Mary Anne came in, off a cruise, having met with very had weather shipped a sea and washed her try-works overboard, He informed me he left the Matilda in a Harbour to the Northward, and the Salamander had killed a ten barrel whale and lost her by bad weather. There is nothing against making a voyage on this Coast but the weather which I expect will be better next month. I think to make another months trial of it.

If a voyage can be got upon this coast, it will make it shorter than going to Peru, and the Governor has been very attentive in sending greens for refreshment to our crew at different times. Capt. Parker has been kind and has given me every assistance that lay in his power. He carries our longboat home as we cannot sell her here. He will dispose of her for you, or leave her at Portsmouth. He will wait upon you at his arrival in London. Capt. Ball of the Supply who is the bearer of this letter has likewise been very kind and rendered us every service that lay in his power. He will wait upon you likewise.

The Colony is alive expecting there will be a rendezvous for the fishermen. We shall be ready to sail on Tuesday the 22nd on a cruise. The Matilda has since arrived here, she saw the Salamander 4 days ago. She has seen more whales, but durst not lower their boats down. She has been into harbour twice. We have the pleasure to say we killed the first 4 whales on this coast. I have enclosed you the certificates for the convicts and receipts for the stores. Capt. Nepean has paid every attention to me and has been so kind as to let us have a copper. He dines with me tomorrow. I am collecting you some beautiful birds and land animals and curiosities for you. The ship remains tight and strong, and in good condition. I will write you by the Gorgon, Man of War; she sails about a month or six weeks time.

I am,


yr humble servant


Capt. of Ship Britannia

Sydney, P.J.

Allan Melvill with whom the American record begins, was the second son of Rev. Thomas (2) Melvill, born in Scoonie, county of Fife, Scotland Major Thomas Melvill only son of Allan and Jean (Cargill) Melvill, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, January 16, 1751 In 1771. He was one of the band of Indians, who, on the night of December 16, 1773, held the famous "Tea Party" in Boston Harbor Thomas Melvill Sr. (1751-1832), arrived in Boston in 1743, where he established himself in commercial business. He was the grandfather of Herman Charles Melvill author of Moby Dick, was a merchant, naval officer, and U.S. Collector for the Port of Boston.

Thomas Melvill Jr. (1776-1845), his son and an uncle of the author, was a banker and exporter in Europe and a farmer in Pittsfield, Mass.

in 1728, died in Boston, Massachusetts, January 2, 1761.

Herman Charles Melville (1819 – 1891) an American of Scottish descent, author of Moby Dick

he visited Scotland, the home of his ancestors, on business as heir-at-law to his cousin, General Roland Melvil, and was received with marked attention, receiving a degree from the St. Andrews College, Edinburg, together with the freedom of the city. He remained in Scotland and England two years, returning to Boston in 1773. From this period the cause of civil liberty engaged his attention and its progress was marked with deep interest to the termination of his life. He took part in many of the important and stirring events preceding the revolution.

ENDERBY, SAMUEL junior (1756-1829), was the son of Samuel Enderby (1719-1797) and his wife Mary, née Buxton, a daughter of Enderby's partner at St Paul's Wharf, London. The family had been tanners at Bermondsey, and were granted forfeited estates at Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland, which were sold in 1660; they then carried on the 'oil and Russia trade' which included the New England colonies. In 1773 Enderby's ships were chartered for the tea cargoes that were dumped into Boston Harbour and in the same year they began the Southern Fishery for sperm whales, with ships based on London and with American captains and harpooners. By 1785 seventeen ships were thus engaged, all commanded by Loyalists; by 1790 Enderby estimated the total to be sixty-eight. From 1786 Samuel Enderby as principal owner and merchant appeared frequently with Alexander Champion and John St Barbe before the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade and Plantations as spokesmen for the Southern Fishery. Their most pressing requests were for 'an unlimited right of fishing in all seas'; this required pressure from the government on the East India Co. to assent to successive modifications of the geographical limits that it imposed, to issue licences and to relax other restrictions. By 1801 this freedom was virtually complete, and only the China seas were still closed to them.

In 1789 Enderby sent the Emilia into the Pacific via Cape Horn on a whaling voyage, and in 1791 helped to arrange for whalers to carry convicts to Port Jackson in the Third Fleet. Among these was his own ship Britannia, which became the first ship to take sperm whales on the Australian coast; though hampered by bad weather the master reported that 'if a voyage can be got upon this coast, it will make it shorter than going to Peru'. In 1792, in conjunction with the Admiralty, Enderby sent the Rattler, under Lieutenant James Colnett, R.N., to survey whaling grounds in the south-eastern Pacific; on the voyage, which lasted from January 1793 to November 1794, the Galapagos Islands were surveyed. After this, Enderby's ships Speedy, Britannia and Ocean constantly sailed from Port Jackson whaling. In 1797 he urged the sending of an expedition from Port Jackson against Spanish ports in Chile and Peru, but British attacks there were made from other quarters. The same year he tried, but with no success, to persuade the government to use whalers regularly to take out convicts; but in 1800, with Alexander Champion, he successfully petitioned that the whalers should be allowed to take stores for the colony to compete with American merchants. He sent cargoes 'well adapted for the inhabitants' in the Greenwich, which reached Sydney in May 1801, and then in the Britannia; unfortunately by that time increasing supplies of goods had reduced the profits to be gained in this way. He was a personal friend of Governor Philip Gidley King, who was able to help his whaling and trading activities.

Later Enderby's ships were prominent in extending the fishery farther into the Pacific. They went to New Zealand and Polynesian islands; in 1806 Captain Bristow in the Ocean discovered the Auckland Islands; in 1819 they penetrated Japanese waters. Subsequently they led the way to the Mozambique and Seychelles grounds and into the far southern ocean, after Enderby had urged the annexation of New Zealand in 1820 to control the whalers and traders on its coasts.

Enderby married Mary Goodwyn; their daughter Elizabeth was the mother of Gordon of Khartoum. After his death in 1829 their son, Charles, F.R.S., carried on the firm. In 1831 in their brig Tula, Captain John Biscoe sighted the Antarctic continent and named Enderby Land.

Select Bibliography

An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 With Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, Etc. of The Native Inhabitants of That Country. to Which Are Added, Some Particulars of New Zealand; Compiled, By Permission, From The Mss. / Collins, David, 1754-1810

Whalemen adventures

Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 4-7; Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 2-7; J. Colnett, Voyages to the South Atlantic and Round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean (Lond, 1798); J. Horsburgh, India Directory, 4th ed (Lond, 1836); E. A. Stackpole, The Sea-Hunters (Philadelphia, 1953); W. J. Dakin, Whalemen Adventurers (Syd, 1963); manuscript catalogue under Enderby and whaling (State Library of New South Wales); Board of Trade papers, vols 1-2 (National Archives of the United Kingdom); Chatham papers 30/8 (National Archives of the United Kingdom). More on the resources

Thomas *Scotland 10.10.1758 =Leith North 19.10. Thomas * = Leith North Scotland 10/10/1758 19:10. 1758 †Cape Town - witness at 1758 † Cape Town - witnesses at baptism James Melvill and William Adam.

Original Dutch wording for anyone who might be able to improve the translation of the above: 'MOOC 8/32.14 alle zodanige goederen al er op Dinsdag den vyftienden dag dezer lopende maand Maart in den jaare een duyzend acht honderd en veertien 's morgens de klokke omtrend zes uuren met er dood zyn ontruymd ende nagelaten door mnr Thomas Melvill, en na alvorens by testament onderhandsch voor drie perzonen in dato 8 Junij 1797 in London gemaakt tot zyne eenige en universeele erfgename te hebben benoemd zyne twee kinderen, met namens Jenet Melvill gehuwed met George William Evans woonachtig in New South Wales en John Melvill mondig. Invoegen als heteen en ander ingevolge Heeren Weesmeesterend resolutie van den 15 deezer door ons ondergeteekende gecommitteerde Weesmeesterend is opgenoemen in en geschrifte,mitsg:s bevonden te bestaan in het volgende te weeten. Twee stukken land met de daarop geconstrueerde gebouwen, waarvan door den Raad der Gemeente nog transport moet worden gedaan. Crediten des boedels aan contantetn Rds 1106; van J.H.M. Kock op een onderh. briefje van den 4 Juny 1812 over koop van thee Rds 50. Lastenaan des overl: huysvr: Jennet Melvill over een by testament aan haar bespreken legaat een honder ponden sterling. wordende alhier pro memoria genoteerd at voglensopgaaf van voorm: John Melvill, den overleedenen nog heeft eene openstaande maatshcappy reekening met Joseph Johnston. deeze apprentice Mamsie genaamd den 24 Maart 1814 en dat in den boedel nog is gevonden een apprentice door het Gouvernement aan den klercq C. Blair te rug aan den overleedenen voor veertien jaaren gegeeven, als meede gegeeven. een meid (unnamed) door zekere Captain Mackeij voor circa twaalf jaren by den overleedenen agter gelaten, en eyndelyk dat den inventarient heeft eene openstaand reek: g met den overleedenen'


Arrived in South Africa in 1799 -


  • Last Name: Melvill
  • First Name: Thomas
  • Date of Birth: Nov 1757
  • Place of Birth:
  • Parents – Father:
  • Parents – Mother:
  • Name of Spouse: Janet, b. Leith, Midlothian, d. 24 Dec 1814 age 59
  • Marriage Date:
  • Marriage Place:
  • Date of Death: 15 Mar 1814 age 56y 9m
  • Place of Death: Cape Colony
  • Notes: “British Residents at the Cape 1785-1819,” p. 274. Master mariner.


  • Janet
  • John Melville, q.v.

view all 18

Captain Thomas Melvill, SV/PROG's Timeline

October 10, 1758
North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland
October 19, 1758
Edinburgh, UK
September 7, 1783
Age 24
Cardiff, UK
June 10, 1787
Age 28
London, Greater London, UK