Guide to the Papers of George Raper (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Raper, George
Papers of George Raper (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1787 - 1824
Collection Number
5 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

An abbreviated logbook 1787-94 and maps, plans and coastal profiles of Botany Bay, Port Jackson and Norfolk Island.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Material selectively filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1981 (AJCP Reels: M1183), at the private residence of Vice-Admiral Sir George Raper. Somerset, England. Original microfilm digitised as part of the AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

National Library of Australia, Canberra

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Botany Bay, New South Wales; Maps, plans and charts: New South Wales; Norfolk Island; Paintings, drawing and prints: New South Wales; Port Jackson, New South Wales; Raper, George; Royal Navy: voyages; Sirius, HMS (ship); Sydney, New South Wales: maps


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 382, p146.

Biographical / Historical

George Raper (1768?-1797) entered the Royal Navy in 1783. In December 1786 he was appointed an able seaman on HMS Sirius and in September 1787, while on the voyage to New South Wales, he was promoted to midshipman. In 1789-90 he sailed on the Sirius to the Cape of Good Hope to obtain food for the starving colony. The Sirius was wrecked at Norfolk Island in March 1790 and Raper and the other crew members remained on the island until February 1791. He left New South Wales shortly afterwards and was paid off in May 1792. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in June 1793 and took part in the siege of Toulon. He later served on HMS Cumberland.

Raper's paintings were closely related to the work of the unidentified artist known as the Port Jackson Painter and they were the most talented of the early artists in New South Wales. The art historian Bernard Smith wrote that 'none of Cook's natural-history draughtsmen possessed Raper's ability to render texture, detail and colour with quite the same ability, and not until the appearance of Alexandre Leseur [in 1801-3] is his work in depicting the marine fauna of the Pacific equalled'.

Item Descriptions

Observations by Lieut. George Raper, R.N. (File 1)

Excerise book containing irregular entries showing positions of Sirius 20 May 1787-14 January 1788, 4 October 1788-31 December 1788-5 April 1789, Speedy 31 July 1793, Commerce de Marseille 14 October 1794-20 October 1794 (15pp.).

Service record of George Raper, 1787 - 1794 (File 2)

Maps and Plans, 1783 - 1796 (File 3)

Signed by S. Inman, Navy Board, 8 March 1824.

A north & south chart from the Lands End to the Equator, 16 May 1787 - 15 July 1787 (Item (i))

Route of Sirius in north Atlantic Ocean. [May 16 - July 15 1787]

Oriented east west.

Originally drawn across 2 leaves which are now separated from Raper's notebook.

Chart of the South Atlantic with the track of the Sirius (Item (ii))

Eastern half of sheet missing.

Plan of Rio de Janeiro, coast of Brasil, 1791 (Item (iii))

Observations in the Sirius.

Signed in lower right margin: Geo. Raper 1791.

Plan of Port Praya, the South end of the Island of St. Jago or Yago, 1787 (Item (iv))

Observations in the Sirius.

Relief shown by bathymetric soundings.

Plan of Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope (Item (v))

Map of the harbour at Table Bay, South Africa. Shows the Dutch East India Company's settlement of Cape Town, the Company's garden, the garrison and forts.

Plan of Botany Bay, New South Wales, 1791 (Item (vi))

Relief shown by bathymetric soundings.

Signed in lower right margin: Geo. Raper 1791.

Plan of Port Jackson, coast of New South Wales as surveyed by Captain Hunter, 1788 (Item (vii))

Relief shown by bathymetric soundings.

Signed in lower right margin: Geo. Raper 1791.

Carreening Cove, Port Jackson, 1789 (Item (viii))

Relief shown by bathymetric soundings.

Signed in lower right margin: Taken by Geo. Raper 1789.

Norfolk Island, [1790?] (Item (ix))

With enlargement of southern end showing Sirius's track.

Relief shown by hachures and bathymetric soundings.

Drawings (File 4)

Views of Needles, Salvages and Teneriffe, 1790 (Item (i))

Views of Cape Verde Islands, 1790 (Item (ii))

Views of Rio de Janeiro and Table Bay (Item (iii))

Views of Van Diemen's Land, Botany Bay and Port Jackson, 1791 (Item (iv))

Melancholy loss of H.M.S. Sirius off Norfolk Island, 19 March 1790 (Item (v))

Copy of will of George Raper 14 October 1795, Deed of administration granted to Katherine Raper, 5 March 1799. (File 5)