Zachary Hickes was a Royal Navy officer, second-in-command on Lieutenant James Cooks first voyage to the Pacific and the first among Cooks crew to sight mainland Australia. Hickes quick thinking while in command of HMS Endeavour also saved the lives of Cook, Joseph Banks. Yet despite his vigorous service Hickes was dogged by ill health and he died in May 1771 of a consumptive illness likely contracted before sailing from England, and his remains were buried at sea off the Atlantic island of Saint Helena. New Zealands Hicks Bay and eastern Australias Point Hicks are named in his honour, Hickes was born in Stepney in 1739. He enlisted or was pressed into service at Ripon and first appears in navy muster-books as serving as able seaman. A skilled seaman, he was promoted to midshipman aboard the sloop HMS Hornet in August 1767 and his officers commission was formalised on 26 May 1767 with a transfer to James Cooks HMS Endeavour as second lieutenant and second-in-command. He formally joined the ship on 3 June, Hickes early months aboard Endeavour were uneventful. There Hickes was given his first specific duties by Cook, to put ashore in command of the pinnace, to make contact with local authorities. The engagement did not go well, as the Portuguese Viceroy Antônio Rolim de Moura refused to believe that Endeavour was on a scientific mission. Instead, Hickes and masters mate Charles Clerke were detained on shore while answers were sought from Cook regarding his vessel, armaments, the pinnace was returned to Endeavour without Hickes, and he and Clerke were only permitted to return to their ship after some hours delay. On 19 November Hickes was again sent ashore, to present a letter from Cook to the Viceroy. On arrival at Rios docks he objected when a Portuguese soldier boarding his boat and refused to leave, at which point he and his crew were arrested, Portuguese authorities confiscated Endeavours pinnace and imprisoned the crew, sending Hickes back to his ship alone. After formal protests from Cook, Hickes crew was released and the vessel returned, Portuguese authorities accused Hickes of threatening their soldiers life and of displaying petulancy and imprudence, they asked that he be confined to Endeavour and not return to shore. However Cook considered that Hickes had offered no provocation to Portuguese authorities that would justify their depriving him of his boat, departing Rio, Endeavour rounded Cape Horn and continued westward across the Pacific to reach Tahiti in April 1769. Hickes abilities as a leader were tested when, three days before Endeavour was due to depart, two of her marines deserted to the mountains to stay with their Tahitian wives. Cook deputised Hickes to secure their return, ordering him to kidnap local chief Tootaha, the kidnapping was a success but the stratagem failed, the Tahitians responded by abducting Endeavours surgeon William Monkhouse and four of her crew, and holding them hostage near the shore. Again Cook turned to Hickes, who led a detachment of marines to the shore. Hickes threat succeeded – Monkhouse and the sailors were released, the Tahitians found and returned the deserters, on 3 June Cook chose Hickes as one of the six men designated to record the Transit of Venus upon which Endeavours voyage was ostensibly based
Portuguese Viceroy Antônio Rolim de Moura, on whose authority Hickes was detained in Rio de Janeiro.
Hickes' ship, HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland. By Samuel Atkins c.1794
Image: Hicks Bay, East Coast, New Zealand, 13th. Dec. 2010 Flickr Phillip C (2)