A Deserted Indian Village in King George III Sound. New Holland 1798 engraved by J. Landseer from a copy by W Alexander inscribed on plate with title and ‘London Published May 1st 1798, by R Edwards New Bond Street, I Edwards Pall Mall and G Robinson Paternoster Row. Bottom left inscribed W. Alexander del. From a Sketch made on the Spot by J. Sykes.
During the time the Discovery spent at King George Sound, John Sykes is known to have made at least three watercolours, including one of some deserted native huts which were found on Sunday 2 October 1791. From Sykes’s sketch, William Alexander (assistant keeper of the antiquaries in the British Museum) drew or painted a copy of which this engraving was made.
John Sykes (1773-1858) was a topographical draughtsman. He entered the navy on 25th December 1783 as a Captain’s Servant on the Resource and was stationed at Halifax. He joined His Majesty’s sloop Discovery, commanded by Captain George Vancouver in December 1790, as Master’s mate. Vancouver in the Discovery, along with the armed tender the Chatham was the first to chart the south coast of Western Australia, discovering King George Sound, naming it After King George III in 1791. They spent several weeks in the area and then sailed eastwards visiting New Zealand, the Sandwich Islands and the north-west coast of America. On his return to England Sykes was made a lieutenant and on and on 6th November 1795 he joined the Swallow. After serving aboard several ships he was promoted to Commander on 18th June 1800. In 1811 he married a daughter of Edward Earl, chairman of the Board of Customs and in 1848 Sykes was made a Vice-Admiral. He also represented the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Defence in Great Britain.