The Fiji Museum - Virtual Museum

James Wilson

The development of British colonies in 1788 on the land that is now Australia, led to an increase in shipping in the southwest Pacific and some merchant ships inevitably strayed to Fiji. In 1794 the ship Arthur approached from the west and escaped after beating off a canoe attack with gunfire.

In 1797 the London Missionary Society ship Duff, sailing from Tonga to China, entered Fiji waters and was nearly wrecked on a reef. Captain Wilson noted the positions of various islands in Northern Lau and sighted Taveuni and parts of Vanua Levu.

Fiji's last Western visitor in the 1700s was the American merchant ship Ann and Hope from which Beqa, Vatulele, south-west Viti Levu and the Mamanucas were sighted in 1799.