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Abel Janszoon TASMAN
(c.1603-1659)note


Project Gutenberg Australia gratefully acknowledges the significant contribution of Mr. Bob Forsyth. Books and other material made available by Mr. Forsyth have made possible the production of several of the ebooks listed below.

Read ebooks by and about Abel Tasman:


In 1642, Anthony Van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, commissioned Abel Tasman, a sea captain employed by the Dutch East India Company, to undertake a voyage to the unknown south seas.

Leaving Batavia in August, 1642, Tasman first set a course towards Mauritius, then sailing southward, and later easterly, he reached in November, 1642, the west coast of Tasmania, which he named Van Diemen's Land. The names of his ships--Heemskerck and Zeehaen--survive in the names of two mountains, the first land he sighted.

Two years later, on another voyage, Tasman sailed along the northern coast of Australia (which became known as "New Holland") from Cape York to North West Cape.


The various copies of Tasman's Journal and the translations of those copies.
(Information provided by Bob Forsyth.)

Abel Janszzoon Tasman's Journal, edited by J E Heeres, was originally published by Frederick Muller, Amsterdam in 1898 and is several books in one. The hand-written copy of the Journal, the reproduction of which is included in the book, is now held by the State Archive, The Hague (Nationaal Archief).

The book includes--

The ebook includes a sample page of the handwritten journal; the translation of the journal, including footnotes; Tasman's Life and Labours; the appendices; and the observations.

Another hand written copy of the Journal, the Huydecoper (Huijdecoper), is at the State Library of New South Wales, together with a transcript translated by P. K. Roest.

A monograph about the various copies is titled "Tasman and New Zealand, A Bibliographic Study", by E. H. McCormick, Alexander Turnbull Library, Bulletin No. 14, 1959. Heeres also discusses the various copies, of which he was aware at the time, in Tasman's Life and Labours.

Many of the shoreline drawings from Tasman's Journal are included in "The Voyages of Abel Janszoon Tasman", by Andrew Sharp, Oxford University Press, 1968.


From The Athenaeum, April 7, 1894 (In The Discovery of Australia, 1902, by Albert F Calvert, p. 146):

"It appears that the first printed abridgment of Tasman's MS. Journal of his first voyage was that of D. R. Van Nierop (1669-74). The second was by T. Valantyn in his Oud en Nieuw Oost Indien (1724), copied probably from the MS. preserved among the arichives at he Hague. The third was by Captain J. Burney in his A Chronological History of the South Sea (1803-17), Vol. III., chap.iv. This was compiled from the original MS. purchased by Sir Joseph Banks. Burney, for reasons of his own, assumed this copy to be the original, against the advice of Mr.G. C. Woide, a learned clergyman, afterwards an assistant librarian in the British Museum, who translated it into English.

"It does not appear to be generally known that the text of this voyage was first printed in extenso by J Swart in the Verhandelungen en Berigten Amsterdam, 1854-1860, from the manuscript signed by Tasman, formerly in the possession of the nautical establishment of Huist van Keulen, of the same city."


From the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. XVIII, Part III. pp. 155-6. (1932):

A Manuscript Journal of Tasman's Voyage, 1642-3

The mention of Tasman's voyage in the article entitled "The Navigators of the Pacific from Magellan to Cook," by Captain F. J. Bayldon, and published in this number, makes the opportunity suitable for directing attention to a rare and valuable manuscript in the Mitchell Library.
Our knowledge of Tasman's famous voyage of 1642-3 depends principally on two manuscripts, neither of which was written by Tasman himself. The one in the Archives Department at The Hague, Holland, is signed by Tasman; and the other important manuscript, a contemporary account probably written for Salomon Sweers, who was a member of the Council of India, is the manuscript in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. For many years it was in the possession of the Huydecoper van Maarsseveen en Nigtevecht family, from whom it was purchased in 1926 by the Trustees of the Library.

On comparing the two manuscripts, differences are noticed that suggest that both may be contemporary copies of a Tasman holograph journal that has long since disappeared. Professor Heeres edited a folio volume containing a facsimile reproduction of the manuscript journal of Tasman's voyage that is in the Dutch Archives, together with a translation into English and the editor's notes also translated into English; and the Mitchell Library has also obtained a manuscript translation into English of the Huydecoper Journal, so that both journals are available to the student of historical geography both in the original Dutch and in English translations.

The Huydecoper Journal contains the earliest map of New Zealand that is known, probably the first map ever made of that region. It is an original, and was made by Franchoijs Jacobs-Visscher, the "steersman" of the Heemskersk (sic), in 1643. It shows that Cook's Strait was entered, but not passed through, and that the land line was not continuous, but a break existed, as we now well know, between the middle and the north islands of the group. As Tasman failed to sail through the strait, he missed making the discovery that New Zealand was a group of islands--a discovery that was made by Captain Cook in 1769.


From The History of Australasia, 1879, by David Blair, pp. 19-20

It is a remarkable fact that the only account of this memorable voyage--in the course of which the great islands of Tasmania and New Zealand were discovered--that the world possessed for more than a century after its termination was a curtailed abridgment published at Amsterdam in 1674, and an abstract of a more extended kind included in Valentyn's great Dutch work on the East Indian possessions of the Company at Amsterdam. About 1771, however, a manuscript journal of Tasman's, written by his own hand, was brought to England by an unknown hand, and offered for sale to Sir Joseph Banks. Perceiving the value of this precious document, Sir Joseph purchased it, and deposited it amongst the treasures of his magnificent library. He also caused an English translation of it to be made by the Rev. Charles Godfrey Woide, chaplain to the Dutch chapel at St James's Palace. At Sir Joseph Banks's death, his library was bequeathed to the British Museum in London, where, no doubt, Tasman's journal is still to be found. The original document and the translation were lent by Sir Joseph to Flinders, and also to Captain (afterwards Admiral) Burney, who was engaged in compiling a chronological history of the discoveries in the South Sea (A Chronological History of the South Sea). The work was published in five volumes quarto in London, between the years 1803 and 1817, and copies of it are to be found in both the Public and Parliamentary Libraries at London. It contains the entire text of Tasman's manuscript, with the exception of some purely nautical details, of no permanent importance. As the Dutch Government was always very jealous of the possession of the records drawn up by its voyagers and discoverers, lest other nations should obtain the benefit of them, it is not easy to account for the means by which this invaluable document found its way from Batavia to England. Doubts have been, therefore, cast, upon its genuineness; but in a carefully-written introduction Captain Burney discusses at some length the question of the authenticity of the journal, and proves the point conclusively. In fact, it possesses every mark of originality. In particular, the minutest incidents of the navigation, from leaving Batavia to the arrival at the scene of new discovery, are noted down; details which have absolutely nothing in them to attract curiosity, or to repay the trouble of copying at length. No forger would think of inventing them. Comparing the journal with Valentyn's account, it is found that the latter copies from it almost verbally, but condenses a good deal, and alters the narrative to the third person.


Updated 2 June 2006