HERMAN DIEDRICH SPöRING JR. (1733–1771) was a Finnish explorer ,
draughtsman , botanist and a naturalist .
Drawing by Spöring
* 1 Early life
* 2 Voyage to the Pacific
* 3 Achievements and commemorations
* 4 References
He was born in 1733 in the Finnish town of
Åbo , at that time the
major Finnish city and administrative center under the Kingdom of
Sweden . He was the son of an amateur naturalist and professor of
Medicine at the Academy of
Herman Spöring Sr. (1701–1747).
Spöring Jr. attended the Academy as a youth, studying medicine under
Sometime around 1755, at the age of 22 he went to
London , where he
worked at a watchmakers . During this time he became acquainted with
the Swedish naturalist
Daniel Solander , who employed him as a
personal clerk for a time.
In 1768 Spöring was enlisted as a clerk, assistant naturalist and
personal secretary in the entourage of
Joseph Banks , a wealthy young
botanist who was preparing for an expedition sponsored by the Royal
Society to the
Pacific Ocean . This expedition had as one of its
principal goals the observation of the transit of Venus ; however it
was also intended to make scientific studies of the flora and fauna of
any new lands encountered. Indeed, the confidential purpose of the
voyage (in particular, from the point of view of the British Admiralty
) was to seek out the hypothetical "unknown southern continent",
orTerra Australis (Incognita).
The other noted naturalist on the voyage was Daniel Solander,
Spöring's former employer who had recommended Spöring for the post
when he himself signed up. Solander was a former student and protégé
of the noted Swedish botanist and founder of modern taxonomy , Carl
Spöring was also a skilled instrument maker, and in addition to his
cataloging duties was assigned the maintenance and upkeep of the
ship's scientific equipment during the voyage.
VOYAGE TO THE PACIFIC
The expedition left England in 1768, aboard
HM Bark Endeavour
HM Bark Endeavour under
the command of R.N. Lt.
James Cook , bound for the Society Islands
Tahiti ). They arrived there in 1769, where the
observations of Venus were taken during the transit on June 3.
Spöring had to repair the astronomical quadrant after it had become
damaged when it was taken by the local Polynesian inhabitants.
Leaving the Society Islands, the expedition sailed southwards,
New Zealand , where Spöring and the other naturalists spent
the ensuing months gathering and documenting specimens of native plant
and animal life. At a bay now known as
Tolaga Bay (not far from the
modern township of Gisborne ), Cook bestowed the name SPöRING ISLAND
to a landmark, after the botanist. The island is today known by its
original Māori name, Pourewa.
The expedition continued westwards, and in 1770 the Endeavour
encountered the southeastern coastline of the Australian continent,
and became the first European vessel to have navigated the eastern
side of the continent. The expedition made first landfall at a site
Botany Bay , very near the site at which 18 years later the
Sydney would be established. Banks, Solander and Spöring
collected further unique specimens from this site. This collection
would be greatly augmented later when the Endeavour was laid up for
several weeks for repairs, after having run aground on a section of
Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef much further to the north. The naturalists
availed themselves of the opportunity whilst repairs were being made
to continue their compilation of new species.
Once repairs were made the expedition continued northwards to the
East Indies port of Batavia (Jakarta). Until this point in the voyage,
no crewmember or passenger had been lost to disease; however, the
unhealthy conditions of the port and their new provisions would soon
result in quite a few deaths, including that of Spöring himself. In
1771 on the return leg, Spöring died of dysentery complications
related to food poisoning . He was buried at sea on January 24, 1771.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND COMMEMORATIONS
He has a commemorative statue dedicated to him in
Sydney , Australia.
In 1990, a rock taken from Pourewa (Spöring) Island was transported
to Spöring's birthplace of Åbo, Finland, to be placed in a monument
set up to commemorate his achievements and ties with New Zealand, as
the first Finn to have landed there.
Amongst his achievements are the discovery and illustration of a
number of hitherto-unknown Australian species. His colleagues and
successors who studied his materials have recognised the accuracy and
form of his drawings and annotations. His efforts, along with those of
others on the voyage provided critical new materials for study, which
allowed further advances in the historical development of the theory
of evolution to be made.
Spöring Island and monument
* ^ "Turku and the Spöring