Regular readers will know that the remote island Tristan da Cunha and the group of volcanic islands coming under the same name, located way out in the South Atlantic Ocean are a constant source of interest to me.
In the days of the great sailing ships Tristan was a stopping off place for these ships on passage from Europe to the Far East.
Recently the Tristan da Cunha Post Office released a set of four stamps depicting Arctic and Antarctic explorers who have journeyed in Tristan waters. Perhaps one of the explorers featured in the set, best known to us is James Weddell and the brig Jane.
Born in 1787 and initially a member of the Royal Navy (1796-1815) where he rose to the rank of Master, he left and became a Merchant Mariner. In 1819 he persuaded the owners of the brig Jane to entrust him to command a sealing expedition to the South Shetland Islands. Returning with a full hold, he was able to persuade the owners to let him return on a second mission. This proved unprofitable, but in 1822 the Jane departed for southern waters again, accompanied by Mathew Brisbane in the Beaufoy calling in at Tristan da Cunha.
By this time there were so many sealers in the area that the seals had themselves become scarce. Weddell and Brisbane decided to head further south in search of better hunting, but when they finally admitted defeat and turned back, it transpired that they were at the southern most position any ship had reached up to that point.