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RAHS Day Lecture – The First Foreign Delegation to Sydney (1793)

March 7, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Corvettes Descubierta and Atrevida. Drawing by Fernando Bramble (1763-1834) [Image sourced from Wikipedia]

RAHS Day Lecture – The First Foreign Delegation to Sydney (1793): The Spanish Enlightenment voyage of Captains Alejandro Malaspina and Jose Bustamante and the plan to attack Sydney

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Despite a long preoccupation with French intrigues, the first foreign visitation to Sydney was by the Spanish in 1793. The visit was that of the Spanish Enlightenment voyage of the Royal Spanish Navy ships Descubriete and Atrevida, commanded respectively by Captains Alejandro Malaspina and Jose Bustamante. Arriving at Sydney in March 1793, these expeditioners and their crews provide us with some of the earliest accounts and images of the colony at Sydney Cove, and the agricultural developments at Parramatta.

But the one month visit was more than just the collection of natural history items. The expedition was tasked to provide a secret report on the colony at Sydney, given that it had been in place for only five years. Based on the significant progress found, both Captains developed different concepts of how Spain might engage.

Celebrating 225 years since this first Australian-Spanish engagement occurred, Chris Maxworthy will explain the official Spanish government plan that arose, to expel the British from Sydney Cove, and how close it came to be executed upon.

About the speaker: Chris Maxworthy is a serving officer in the Australian Navy and a former Councillor of the RAHS Council. He is also the Secretary of the Australian Association for Maritime History, and is a graduate of Macquarie University and the University of NSW. For the past decade he has researched the role of privateers and pirates in the early history of Australia, and our interactions with the Spanish colonies of South America. In 2011 Chris was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship that allowed him to discover the 1796 plan of the Spanish to attack the Colony at Sydney.



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March 7, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Royal Australian Historical Society
(02) 9247 8001


Royal Australian Historical Society
133 Macquarie Street
Sydney, New South Wales 2000 Australia
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(02) 9247 8001

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