First edition and a remarkable relic: this copy of the foundation book of European settlement in Australia - the First Fleet voyage account of Phillip, the first official account of the settlement in New South Wales - belonged to the Shortland family, and specifically to Thomas George Shortland, second mate of the First Fleet vessel Alexander, who, as were other family members, was involved not only in the voyage and settlement but also with this first publication of its official record. The Shortland family provenance is particularly important because two of the family, Commander John Shortland, Agent to the Transports, and his younger son Thomas George, were both contributors to the book, meaning that it is fair to say that this is, in an important sense, an "authorial" copy. A third member of the family, the eldest son of Commander Shortland, also named John, was on board the Sirius and in fact had a long career in New South Wales, which adds to the interest of the present copy. Thomas George Shortland has made numerous and significant annotations throughout the book, particularly regarding his own mapping of the Solomon Islands as compared with the discoveries of the French voyage of d'Entrecasteaux. The copy thus provides a very rare opportunity to see a First Fleet officer studying the work of his French counterparts in detail, and returning to his own important surveying later in his career.
“An expedition occasioned by motives of legislative policy, carried on by public authority, and concluded by a fixed establishment in a country very remote, not only excites an unusual interest concerning the fate of those sent out, but promises to lead us to some points of knowledge which, by the former mode, however judiciously employed, could not have been attained. A transient visit to the coast of a great continent cannot, in the nature of things, produce a complete information respecting its inhabitants, productions, soil, or climate: all which when contemplated by resident observers, in every possible circumstance of variation, though they should be viewed with less philosophical acuteness, must yet gradually become more fully known: Errors, sometimes inseparable from hasty observation, will then be corrected by infallible experience; and many objects will present themselves to view, which before had escaped notice, or had happened to be so situated that they could not be observed.”