||Lisiansky, Urey, 1773-1837
||A Voyage Round the World: In the Years 1803, 4, 5, & 6 [excerpt]
||Lisiansky, Urey. A Voyage Round the World: In the Years 1803, 4, 5, & 6; Performed by Order of His Imperial Majesty Alexander the First, Emperor of Russia, in the Ship Neva, by Urey Lisiansky, Captain in the Russian Navy, and Knight of the Orders of St. George and St. Vladimer. (London: Printed for John Booth; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown, 1814). Pages viii-xxi; 95-244; 326-337; and 362-367.
||188 / 28 (20 of tables)
Yuri F. Lisiansky (1773-1837) was born into an aristocratic
Ukrainian family and chosen as a young child for a naval career.
He began it as a fifteen-year-old midshipman, when he saw intense
military action during Russia’s war with Sweden. He was soon
sent to England to learn naval skills and tactics. As a British
seaman, he sailed in 1794 for North America where he fought the
French from Nova Scotia to the West Indies. During 1795-1796 he
traveled through the young United States, meeting George
Washington in Philadelphia and visiting Savanna, Boston, and
Halifax before returning to England in 1797. On an English
vessel he sailed to the Cape of Good Hope and traveled several
hundred miles into the African interior before sailing for
Madras and Bombay in 1798. He returned to Russia in 1800
permanently affected by tropical illnesses and battle injuries.
Although the round-the-world-voyage described here was the
pinnacle of Lisiansky’s career, he returned from it in broken
health. He was awarded an annual pension of three thousand
rubles and in 1807 was put in charge of all the private yachts
of the Czar, but had to retire altogether in 1809. He devoted
his remaining years to writing his account of the voyage and to
private life, dying in 1837 at St. Petersburg.
Expedition of 1803-1806
In August 1802 Lisiansky was named co-commander of the first
Russian voyage to circle the globe. Its purposes were to
re-supply trading posts and missions in Alaska, to chart the
North Pacific, and to collect scientific data. Lisiansky
purchased two ships in London in September 1802 which were
brought back to Russia for outfitting. They then sailed in
August 1803, rounded Cape Horn, and reached Easter Island in the
Pacific the following April. The expedition parted company at
the Marquesas in the South Pacific, with Lisiansky heading
northeast to Hawaii and Alaska and his companion northwest for
China and Kamchatka.
Lisiansky stopped only about ten days in Hawaii in June 1804
before heading on to Kodiak Island in southwestern Alaska, where
the expedition spent a month. In August 1805 it crossed to the
Russian settlement at Sitka, in southeastern Alaska, for which
Lisiansky had brought a shipload of supplies. After spending the
autumn at Sitka, he crossed in November 1804 back to Kodiak to
spend the winter and the spring of 1805. In June 1805 he
returned to Sitka for the summer, leaving on September 1, 1805,
for China. The expedition then traveled from Canton, across the
Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope, arriving back in
Europe in June 1806.
Lisiansky was a more successful commander than author.
Perhaps because he had spent most of his career speaking English
on British ships, his official account was rejected by the
Admiralty three times “because of my errors in the Russian
language.” Finally in 1812 he published it at his own expense in
two volumes with an atlas. He also translated it into English
himself for publication in London in 1814 (the edition excerpted
here). Six other participants also left personal accounts of the
Other Internet and Reference Sources
A detailed biography of Lisiansky is available at the
(Russian) International Sail Training Academy site at
For general background on the Russians in the North Pacific,
see the National Library of Canada site, “Pathfinders and
A wide variety of information can also be found on the
Library of Congress site “Meeting of Frontiers” at
contains books, manuscripts, maps, and background information on
Russian settlements in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.