This Day in History: 1774-07-19

Matthew Flinders (1774 – 1814) died on this day.
He was an English naval officer, best known for the first circumnavigation of Australia, identifying it as a continent, and suggesting the name. Flinders made three voyages to to the southern ocean between 1791 and 1810, on his second voyage Flinders, along with, Bass confirmed Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) to be an island. Flinders had come to the attention of Joseph Banks (to whom Flinders dedicated his Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen’s Land, on Bass’s Strait, etc.) Banks used his influence to convince the Admiralty of the importance of an expedition to chart the coastline of New Holland resulting in Flinders being given command of the Investigator expedition (1801 – 03). Although successful Flinders was unable to return home until 1810 owing to his incarceration on Mauritius by the French.

Flinders is commemorated in the names of more than 100 Australian geographical features and institutions and is honoured in the name of a crab genus, Flindersoplax, and in the names of a number of species under flindersi.