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Watkin Tench
6 October 1758 – 7 May 1833


6 October 1758 at Chester in the county of Cheshire in England, a son of Fisher Tench, a dancing master who ran a boarding school in the town and Margaritta Tarleton of the Liverpool Tarletons.
Early Years

Tench joined His Majesty's Marine Forces, Plymouth division, as a Second Lieutenant on 25 January 1776, aged 17.

He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 25 January 1778 at the age of 19 years and 3 months.

He fought against the American forces in their War of Independence, during which he was captured when HMS Mermaid was driven ashore on the Maryland coast at Assateague Island near the then extant Sinepuxent Inlet on the morning of 8 July 1778 by the French under Comte d'Estaing.

Tench was in command of the Marine unit on board HMS Mermaid.

He and the other officers were transported to Philadelphia, imprisoned and exchanged in October, 1778.

Tench was promoted to Captain-Lieutenant in September 1782 and went on half-pay in May 1786.

The retirement did not last long, as in October of that year the Admiralty called for volunteers for a three-year tour of Botany Bay.

Tench's offer to re-enter the corps was accepted in December 1786, and he sailed on the transport ship Charlotte in May 1787.

In October 1792, Tench married Anna Maria Sargent, who was the daughter of Robert Sargent, a Devonport surgeon.
First Fleet

Before sailing with the fleet, he arranged with the London publishing firm of Debrett's to write a book describing his experience of the journey and the first few months of the colony.

His manuscript was taken back in July 1788 by John Shortland and published as the "Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay" by Debrett's in 1789.

It ran to three editions and was quickly translated into French, German, Dutch and Swedish.

In October 1788, Robert Ross made a list of marines who wanted to stay in Australia either as soldiers or settlers. Tench headed the list as 'a soldier for one tour more of three years.'

Among his achievements in the fledgling colony of New South Wales Tench was the first European to discover the Nepean River.

He wrote with some sympathy of the Aborigines including much information about the Aborigines of Sydney, the Gadigal and Cammeraygal .

He was friendly with Bennelong, Barangaroo and several others.

He stayed in Sydney until December 1791 when he sailed home on the HMS Gorgon, arriving in Plymouth in July 1792.

Tench retired with the rank of lieutenant-general in July 1827 and died in Devonport (near Plymouth), Devon, England on 7 May 1833, aged 74.


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