Captain Cook's Botanist
Today is the anniversary of the death of the British botanist David Nelson.
David served as the botanist on Captain Cook's third South Seas trip; William Bligh was the Sailing Master.
After gathering many new specimens, David spent the bulk of his time caring for over 500 breadfruit plants that Bligh was transporting to the West Indies.
Breadfruit is a reference to the texture of the cooked fruit, which is similar to freshly baked bread. And, breadfruit tastes like potato.
A likable fellow, David had traveled on another expedition with Captain Charles Clerke of the ship Discovery, who said David was "one of the quietest fellows in nature."
As you might recall, the Captain Cook expedition suffered a mutiny on April 28, 1789. For his protection, David was kept below deck and under guard.
David decided to go with William Bligh and his followers to Timor. The 3,500-mile voyage was grueling, and David died on this day, just 54 days after the mutiny.
David's death was a blow to Bligh and his crew. To honor this mild man of botany, Bligh conferred full naval honors for his funeral service.
Three years later, Captain Bligh visited Tasmania. He named "Nelson's Hill," the highest point on the island, in David's honor. Today Mount Nelson is the Hobart location of Tasmania University.