‘Foundation document for the history of Australian discovery’.

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós (Pedro Fernández de Quirós is the Spanish form of the name). 1607.

Presentation Memorials printed and distributed by Quirós. Madrid. Original and only known example of the first of fourteen Quirós Memorials seeking support for an expedition of discovery and ultimately colonisation to the Southern Continent.

Folio, four leaves, foliated 1 3 (six pages of printed text, final leaf blank). Woodcut initial “E” on the first leaf. “Cross” watermark in first and second leaves (apparently the same as in the Dixson and Longueville copies and similar to those illustrated by Heawood, plates 144 5).

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Written for presentation to the King of Spain, seeking support for an expedition of discovery and ultimately colonisation to the Southern Continent. As the eighteenth century voyage historian Alexander Dalrymple observed of Quirós, “the discovery of the Southern Continent, whenever, and by whomsoever it may be completely effected, is in justice due to this immortal name”.

This is one of the absolute foundation documents for the history of the discovery of Australia, and yet apart from a single example in a private collection no example of an original Quirós Memorial is held in Australia outside the two classic privately formed collections in the State Library of New South Wales, the libraries of Mitchell and Dixson.

Quirós presented his series of memorials to King Philip III of Spain and his councils between 1607 and 1614. In them he petitioned to be given the command of an expedition of discovery and colonisation to settle the lands that he had found: “when I had the means”, Quirós states, “I had these memorials printed, and when not, I would copy them and present and distribute them to the Councils of State, of War and of the Indies, and amongst their ministers” (see Dunn 1961, pp.2-4 and Kelly 1965, pp. 41-8).

The Quirós Presentation Memorials represent the earliest printed record of discovery and plans for settlement of a Southern Continent, the discoveries that Quirós named “Austrialia del Espiritu Santo”. Circulation of all, whether printed or manuscript, was restricted and when, in 1610, it was learned that he was printing various memorials and distributing them beyond the court, Quirós was ordered by the king to retrieve them and was forbidden to print others without royal permission (see Kelly 682, 689). Although a few did nevertheless fall into the hands of private printers and one was translated into several languages, all are of the greatest rarity.

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Pedro Fernandes de Queirós


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