||Menzies, Archibald, 1754-1842
||Menzies' Journal of Vancouver's Voyage, April to October, 1792
||Menzies, Archibald. Menzies' Journal of Vancouver's Voyage, April to October, 1792. Edited, with Botanical and Ethnological Notes, by C.F. Newcombe, M.D., and a Biographical Note by J. Forsyth. (Victoria, B.C.: Printed by William H. Cullin, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1923). Pages i-xx, 1-155.
||192 / 18 (2 of tables)
Born in Scotland to a family keenly interested in botany and
gardening, Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), trained as a doctor at
the University of Edinburgh. In 1782, he joined the Royal Navy
as a surgeon, but he continued to study medicinal plants,
sending botanical specimens from his travels to the West Indies
and Nova Scotia to the Royal Botanical Gardens. In 1790, he was
appointed naturalist to George Vancouverís expedition to the
Northwest coast of America. En route, the ships, the
Discovery and the Chatham, stopped at the Cape of
Good Hope, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Hawaii, finally
reaching the Pacific Northwest in April 1792. Menzies records
the British discovery of Mt. Baker, Puget Sound, Desolation
Sound, and Vancouver Island, among other important landmarks.
When the doctor on the Discovery became too ill to serve
Menzies took over as surgeon.
After returning to Britain in 1795, Menzies continued to
serve in the Royal Navy, mostly travelling to the West Indies.
After retirement in 1802, he practiced medicine in London.
Expedition of 1792
Vancouver was under direction from the British government to
reclaim land in the Nootka Sound ceded by the Spanish and to
continue the surveys of the Northwest coastline started by
Captain James Cook. The British hoped he would assert British
influence over an area where both the Spanish and newly
independent Americans were competing with British imperial aims.
As naturalist, Menzies was tasked by the President of the Royal
Society, Sir Joseph Banks, to make detailed observations of the
plants he would see, to collect new and rare species, and to
report on the areaís suitability for British colonization.
Menzies was probably the first scientist to study and collect
in the Pacific Northwest. As well as meticulously documenting
his botanical discoveries, Menzies gives a vivid account of the
explorersí life on board ship. He also describes encounters with
Spanish explorers and meetings with native Americans, such as
the Salish Indians and the Nootkans of Vancouver Island.
Other Internet and Reference Sources
The Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest provides
information on European rivalry for the Pacific Northwest coast,
including timelines, biographies and maps. See:
For a brief biography of Menzies, see the Clan Menzies
Magazine web site at
For more information on Vancouverís life see:
To learn more about Menziesí narrow escape from a court