The Life of George Bass: Surgeon and Sailor of the Enlightenment

The Life of George Bass: Surgeon and Sailor of the Enlightenment

The Life of George Bass: Surgeon and Sailor of the Enlightenment

The Life of George Bass: Surgeon and Sailor of the Enlightenment

Synopsis

A full account of the life, times and mysterious disappearance of George Bass, one of Australia's most significant maritime explorers, from the author of the highly acclaimed Discovery and The Life of Matthew Flinders.

Excerpt

The road to Aswarby ran across some of Lincolnshire’s gently rolling farmland, skirted the occasional coppice and, near the steepled stone church of St Denis, entered the village. Shaded by great trees, a lane branched off towards the manor house with its stables and outbuildings, the seat of the Whichcote family since 1723. a nearby spring with reputedly invigorating waters drew visitors, many of them stopping at the village hostelry, the Tally Ho.

Aswarby lay on the western edge of the great level sweep of Britain’s fenlands, reclaimed over centuries from the sea, the terrain here rising gently. Tenants cultivated the fields of the Whichcote Estate, among them at least two generations of a family called Bass, a name which as far back as 1333 had been on a tax assessment list in the nearby parish of Wrangle. in 1731, however, the name appeared in Aswarby records when a George Bass signed the Bishop’s Transcripts as churchwarden, an office he held intermittently for the next 25 years. By 1744 the family was established on the Whichcote Estate. Modestly prosperous, George Bass and a surviving son, also George, rented and farmed in addition to their Whichcote fields a part of the church’s glebe land.

On 25 January 1770 the younger George Bass married Sarah Newman from the village of Frampton. Both parties signed the record of their marriage, which indicated a degree of education on the part of Sarah as well as her husband. Then in her mid-thirties, she was by reputation a strikingly beautiful woman. People who knew her in her youth maintained that she had been assiduously courted by the son of an eminent local family, declining his proposal because of the difference in their social positions. Nevertheless, he remained a loyal friend into their old age.

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