Paul Edmund de Strzelecki was born on July 20, 1797, at Głuszyna near Poznan, in Western Poland under Prussian rule.
His father, Francis, was a descendant of an old line of Polish knights who can be traced back to the 14th century. Paul's mother, Anna, nee Raczynski came from another knightly family.
His parents died when he was ten and he was brought up by his mother's relatives. In the years 1810-1814 he was probably educated at the College of Father of Piarists in Warsaw. Paul served with the Prussian army in a cavalry regiment, but left the service after receiving the rank of ensign.
Subsequently he met Alexandrina Turno, the daughter of a substantial landowner Adam Turno. Paul and Alexandrina, whose pet name was Adyna, were very much attracted to each other but her father troubled by Law suits and shortage of money looked for a wealthy suitor. Thus, he prevented the marriage between Paul and Adyna who was nearly seventeen.
Embittered Strzelecki collected some funds from his sister and brother, probably a part of the inheritance of their parents, and then travelled through Austria, Saxony, Switzerland, Italy and Dalmatia.
In Italy Strzelecki met Prince Francis Sapieha who was greatly impressed with the brilliant personality of the young man and offered him employment as a plenipotentiary on his very large estates on the eastern outskirts of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. As an administrator Strzelecki displayed great energy and ability. He restored the estates to a good financial position.
Four years later Prince Francis died, leaving in his last will a large sum of money to his talented plenipotentiary. Eustace Sapieha, the son of Prince Francis, who arrived from England, refused to recognise his father's last will. Some legal disputes followed but the matter was settled out of court and Strzelecki received about one quarter of the sum bequeathed.
Embittered again Strzelecki left Poland apparently at the end of 1829. He went to France where he stayed probably about two years and gained some professional knowledge of geology.
From November 1831 till June 1834 Strzelecki lived in England, but little is known about this period of his life except that he travelled to the north of Scotland. It is a mystery as to how he became a member of the exclusive Alfred Club of London patronised by the High Society of England.
In June, 1834 Strzelecki took a ship at Liverpool for New York. In the United States he travelled extensively, also visiting Canada. He sailed to Cuba and Mexico, returning to New Orleans proceeding up the Mississippi and Ohio to Cincinnati and Baltimore.
From this port he went to Brazil, exploring the provinces of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Gran Chaco, travelled through Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile.
At Valparaiso he boarded H.M.S. „Cleopatra” and visited Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, San Salvador and the ports of western Mexico.
He explored the Gulf of California where he visited the gold and silver mines in the province of Sonora. He made several forays into Utah and Northern Mexico.
After returning to Valparaiso in Chile he boarded H.M.S. „Fly” and in July, 1838, sailed to the Marquesas and Hawaii, There he examined closely the volcano and crater of Kilauea. He is now credited with the introduction to world vulcanology of the Hawaiian word ale man mau in reference to the burning lava reservoirs.
In November, 1838, he disembarked at Papeete and stayed for eleven weeks as the guest of the reigning Queen Pomare IV of Tahiti.
Strzelecki boarded the French barque „Justine” and visited the islands of Tuamotu, Gambier (Mangareva) and Tonga.
The barque reached the Bay of Islands in New Zealand on February 17 1839. Strzelecki examined the mineralogy and geology of the North Island and visited the British resident, James Busby of Waitangi.
Continuation of part 2 on the next page _can be found here_