Matthew Flinders, an English navigator, born at Donington, Lincolnshire, about 1760, died July 19, 1814. In 1795 ho was midshipman on board the vessel which conveyed Capt. Hunter, the governor of Botany Bay, to Australia. At Port Jackson he embarked with the surgeon of the ship. George A. Bass, in a boat 8 ft. long, in which they explored the estuary of George's river. Their discoveries determined them to explore the whole Australian coast. In a large decked boat with six men, sailing S. through a passage afterward named Bass strait, they first discovered that Tasmania was a separate island. In July, 1801, Flinders, now a captain, again sailed from England, surveyed the whole Australian coast as far as the eastern extremity of Bass strait, then refitted at Port Jackson, and in the summer of 1802, steering N., explored Northumberland and Cumberland islands, and surveyed the Great Barrier reef of coral rocks. He then returned to Port Jackson, where his vessel was condemned, and, unable to procure another, he embarked as a passenger on a store ship to lay his charts and journals before the admiralty, and to obtain another ship to continue his examination of Australia. On the way to England the store ship and a consort were wrecked on a coral reef.

Flinders and two or three companions went in an open boat 750 m. to Port Jackson, where he secured a schooner of 29 tons, in which, accompanied by another schooner, he returned and rescued the wrecked crews. He now determined to go to England in the small schooner; but on his way, having made the Isle of France, he was seized by the governor, in spite of a French passport, and was detained for six years; after which his health was so impaired, and his spirit so broken, that he expired in London on the day when his narrative was published (" Voyage to Terra Australis, etc, in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803," 2 vols. 4to, London, 1814).