An account of a voyage for the discovery of a North-West Passage by Hudson's Streights


This chart is from the account of the 1746-47 William Moor / Frances Smith expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The account is by the “Clerk of the California”, whose identity is believed to be either Charles Swaine or Theodorus Swaine Drage, or both names (and several others) could be that of the same individual.

“De Font's letter” is about a supposed voyage by a Spanish admiral, Bartholomew de Fonte in 1640. It first appeared in The Monthly Miscellany or Memoirs for the Curious in 1708, at a time when imaginary voyages were all the rage.

Arthur Dobbs, who sponsored the voyage by Francis Smith, included the letter about the fictitious voyage in his Account of Hudson's Bay (1744). Dobbs believed that it proved the existence of a passage to the Pacific. It would take 50 years and many voyages before the De Fonte letter would be discredited.

Full title:
An account of a Voyage for the Discovery of a North-West Passage by Hudson's Streights, to the Western and Southern Ocean of America. Performed in the year 1746 and 1747, in the Ship "California," Captain Francis Smith, Commander. By the Clerk of the “California” [Charles Swaine.] Adorned with cuts and maps.
1748, London
Charles Swaine
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Public Domain

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The search for the Northwest Passage

There were many expeditions in search of a Northwest Passage during the 1700s. They include the voyages of Frances Smith, Samuel Hearne and James Cook. By the end of the century, George Vancouver had explored the northwest coast in detail.