The Russian-American Company and the Russian Imperial Navy, deeply connected shipbuilding and seafaring organizations, both employed lots of foreign captains.

In Richard A. Pierce's translation, K.T. Khlebnikov wrote in "Baranov" that the Company's chief manager hired "the American Vozdvit [?] giving the latter command of the Il'mena". In "Colonial Russian America" Khlebnikov tells nearly the same story though the translators here render the name "Vosdwit". He reports that the Il'mena sailed to Hawaii after visiting California. Pierce, apparently following the historian Okun, suggests an original spelling of "Wadsworth", but I can't find his given name or origin.

Captain Vodzvit is not named in the 1818 "Correspondence of the Governors" nor in "the Khlebnikov Archive", so he may not have stayed in Company employ for very long. Who was Vozdvit's real name and where was he from?

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    The American Captain William Wadsworth certainly seems to have been the captain of the Il'mena the previous year, and Bolkhovitinov seems to think that he was still captain when she visited Hawaii Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


Actually, we know from recent research that the American, William Wadsworth, was captain of the Il'mena from 1813 to at least 1819.

The Chief Administrator of the Russian-American Company, Alexander Andreevich Baranov, hired Wadsworth to captain the Il’mena on her first voyage on behalf of the Company. The ship left Sitka, Alaska in either December 1813 (according to Khlenikov) or January 1814 (according to Ogden).

A letter dated 15 July 1818 from I.A. Kuskov to the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Colonies in America makes it clear that Wadsworth was still in command of the Il’mena at that time.

Since the events in question occurred in May 1816, it seems that Wadsworth must still have been captain of the Il’mena when it arrived at Oahu.

Indeed, Bolkhovitinov explicitly states that Wadsworth was captain, and that he was ordered to remain in Hawaii by Schäffer.

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    Hurrah and cheers! Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 3:20

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