Thomas Edgar served as master on HMS Discovery during Captain James Cook's Third Voyage to the Pacific from 1776 to 1780. When Edgar ended his sea-going days he became keeper of the Dungeness Signal Tower and remained in this post until he died at the age of 56; he was buried in the grounds of All Saints' Church, Lydd.
Edgar was born in Woolwich in 1745. Little is known of his early life although, like many young boys at the time, he went to sea at the early age of ten. He would have been 31 when the Discovery sailed from Plymouth on August 1st, 1776, under the command of Captain Charles Clerke.
Edgar kept a log and a journal whilst on board Discovery, and he made surveys and drew charts. After the voyage, he was promoted to lieutenant in 1781. He visited The Falkland Islands from 1786 to 1787 on board the whaler Hope. He surveyed part of the coast and is commemorated by Port Edgar on West Falkland being named after him, while Hope Reef honours the ship.
The inscription on his memorial in the graveyard at Lydd reads:
Lieut. Thomas EDGAR of the Royal Navy d. 17 Oct. 1801 aged 56. He came into the Navy at 10 years of age was in that memorable engagement with Admiral Hawk and sail’d around the world in company with the unfortunate Captain Cook of the Resolution in his last voyage when he was killed by the Indians at the Island of Owhie in the South Seas the 14 Feb. 1778.
Tom Edgar at last has sailed out of the world / His shroud is put on and his topsails are furl’d; / He lies snug in death’s boat without any concern / And is moor’d for a full due ahead and astern. / Or’r the compass of Life he has merrily run, / His voyage is completed his reckoning is done
HMS Discovery was the consort ship of James Cook's third expedition to the Pacific Ocean in 1776–1780. Like Cook's other ships, Discovery was a Whitby-built collier originally named Diligence when was built in 1774. Originally a brig, Cook had her changed to a full rigged ship. She was commanded by Charles Clerke, who had previously served on Cook's first two expeditions, and had a complement of 70. After returning to the Nore in 1780, Discovery was fitted out as a transport at Woolwich Dockyard, serving as such between December 1780 and May 1781. She then became a dockyard craft at Woolwich, and was broken up at Chatham Dockyard in October 1797.