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Robert FitzRoy

Robert FitzRoy

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Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy RN
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (5 July 1805 – 30 April 1865) achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle
HMS Beagle
HMS Beagle was a Cherokee-class 10-gun brig-sloop of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 11 May 1820 from the Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames, at a cost of £7,803. In July of that year she took part in a fleet review celebrating the coronation of King George IV of the United Kingdom in which...

 during Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

's famous voyage, and as a pioneering meteorologist
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

 who made accurate weather forecasting a reality. He was an able surveyor and hydrographer
Hydrography
Hydrography is the measurement of the depths, the tides and currents of a body of water and establishment of the sea, river or lake bed topography and morphology. Normally and historically for the purpose of charting a body of water for the safe navigation of shipping...

 and served as Governor
Governor-General of New Zealand
The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the monarch of New Zealand . The Governor-General acts as the Queen's vice-regal representative in New Zealand and is often viewed as the de facto head of state....

 of New Zealand from 1843 to 1845.

Early life


Robert FitzRoy was born at Ampton Hall, Ampton
Ampton
Ampton is a village and civil parish in the St Edmundsbury district of Suffolk, England, about five miles north of Bury St Edmunds.According to Eilert Ekwall the meaning of the village name is Amma's homestead. The Domesday Book records the population of Ampton in 1086 to be 23...

, Suffolk, England, into the upper echelons of the British aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 and a tradition of public service. Through his father, General Lord Charles FitzRoy
Lord Charles FitzRoy (British Army officer)
General Lord Charles FitzRoy was a British Army officer and politician.FitzRoy was the second son of Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton and his first wife, Anne, a daughter of Henry Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth. After education at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge, he entered the...

, Robert was a fourth great-grandson of Charles II of England
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 and his grandfather was Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton. His mother was the daughter of the first Marquess of Londonderry
Marquess of Londonderry
Marquess of Londonderry is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1816 for Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Londonderry. He had earlier represented County Down in the Irish House of Commons. Stewart had already been created Baron Londonderry in 1789, Viscount Castlereagh in 1795 and Earl...

 and the half-sister of Viscount Castlereagh, who became Foreign Secretary. From the age of four Robert FitzRoy lived at Wakefield Lodge in Northamptonshire, the Palladian mansion of the FitzRoy family.

Robert's half-brother Sir Charles FitzRoy
Charles Augustus FitzRoy
Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, KCH, KCB was a British military officer, politician and member of the aristocracy, who held governorships in several British colonies during the 19th century.-Family and peerage:...

 was Governor of New South Wales, Governor of Prince Edward Island and Governor of Antigua.

FitzRoy was also the father of the Commander of the Channel, Rear-Admiral Sir Robert FitzRoy.

Career


In February 1818, aged 12 years old, he entered the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth
Royal Naval Academy
The Royal Naval Academy was established at Portsmouth Dockyard as a facility to train officers for the Royal Navy. The founders' intentions were to provide an alternative means to recruit officers and to provide standardised training, education and admission.-Training:In 1773, a shore side...

, and in the following year he entered the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. At the age of 14 he embarked as a voluntary student aboard the frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

 HMS Owen Glendower
HMS Owen Glendower (1808)
HMS Owen Glendower was a Royal Navy 36-gun fifth-rate Apollo class frigate launched in 1808 and disposed of in 1884...

, which sailed to South America in the middle of 1820, and returned in January 1822. He was promoted to midshipman
Midshipman
A midshipman is an officer cadet, or a commissioned officer of the lowest rank, in the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and many Commonwealth navies. Commonwealth countries which use the rank include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Kenya...

 while on the vessel. FitzRoy then served on HMS Hind as a midshipman. He completed his course with distinction and was promoted lieutenant on 7 September 1824, having passed the examination with 'full numbers' (100%), a result not achieved previously. After serving on HMS Thetis, in 1828 he was appointed flag lieutenant to Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Waller Otway, commander-in-chief of the South American station, aboard HMS Ganges
HMS Ganges (1821)
HMS Ganges was an 84-gun second-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 10 November 1821 at Bombay Dockyard, constructed from teak...

.

At that time HMS Beagle
HMS Beagle
HMS Beagle was a Cherokee-class 10-gun brig-sloop of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 11 May 1820 from the Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames, at a cost of £7,803. In July of that year she took part in a fleet review celebrating the coronation of King George IV of the United Kingdom in which...

, under Captain Pringle Stokes, was carrying out a hydrographic survey of Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

, under the overall command of Captain Phillip Parker King in HMS Adventure
HMS Aid (1809)
HMS Aid was a 10-gun Royal Navy transport ship launched in 1809 at Kings Lynn. She was converted to a survey ship in March 1817, and was renamed HMS Adventure in 1821. The ship was sold in 1853....

. Pringle Stokes became severely depressed and shot himself, and the ship, under Lieutenant Skyring, sailed to Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, where Otway made FitzRoy (temporary) Captain of the Beagle on 15 December 1828. By the ship's return on 14 October 1830, FitzRoy had established his reputation as a surveyor and commander.

During the survey, some of his men were camping onshore when a group of Fuegian natives made off with their boat. His ship gave chase and, after a scuffle, the culprit's families were brought on board as hostages. Eventually FitzRoy held a boy, a girl and two men. As it was not possible to put them ashore conveniently he decided to 'civilise' the 'savages', teaching them "English ... the plainer truths of Christianity ... and the use of common tools" before returning them as missionaries. They were given names: the girl he called Fuegia Basket (so named because the replacement for the stolen boat was an improvised coracle that resembled a basket), the boy Jemmy Button
Jemmy Button
Orundellico, known as "Jeremy Button" or "Jemmy Button", was a native Fuegian of the Yaghan people from islands around Tierra del Fuego, in modern Chile and Argentina...

 (he was purchased by FitzRoy with buttons) and the one man who did not escape he named York Minster (named after the large rock near which he was captured). There was also a boy called Boat Memory. FitzRoy brought them back to England where Boat Memory died following a smallpox vaccination. The others were minded by the trainee missionary Richard Matthews and became 'civilised' enough to be presented at Court in the summer of 1831.

HMS Beagles second voyage


In early May 1831 FitzRoy stood as Tory
Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

 candidate for Ipswich
Ipswich
Ipswich is a large town and a non-metropolitan district. It is the county town of Suffolk, England. Ipswich is located on the estuary of the River Orwell...

 in the General Election, but was defeated. His hopes of obtaining a new posting and organising a missionary project appeared to be failing, and he was organising the charter of a ship at his own expense to return the Fuegians with Matthews when his friend Francis Beaufort
Francis Beaufort
Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, FRS, FRGS was an Irish hydrographer and officer in Britain's Royal Navy...

, Hydrographer
Hydrographer of the Navy
Hydrographer of the Navy is a Royal Naval appointment. From 1795 until 2001 the post was responsible for the production of charts for the Royal Navy, and around this post grew the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office...

 to the British Admiralty, and his "kind uncle", the Duke of Grafton
George FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton
George Henry FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton, KG was a British peer and Whig politician, known as Earl of Euston from birth until 1811....

, interceded on his behalf at the Admiralty. On 25 June 1831 he was re-appointed commander of the Beagle. He spared no expense in fitting out the ship.

Very conscious of the stressful loneliness of command and of the suicide both of Captain Stokes and of his uncle Viscount Castlereagh, who had cut his own throat in 1822 while in government office, he approached Beaufort in August 1831 and asked him to find a suitable gentleman companion for the voyage. Such a companion should share his scientific tastes, make good use of the expedition's opportunities for naturalism research, dine with him as an equal, and provide a semblance of normal human friendship. While those Beaufort first approached turned the opportunity down, FitzRoy eventually approved Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 for the position. Before they left England FitzRoy gave Darwin a copy of the first volume of Charles Lyell
Charles Lyell
Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet, Kt FRS was a British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day. He is best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which popularised James Hutton's concepts of uniformitarianism – the idea that the earth was shaped by slow-moving forces still in operation...

's Principles of Geology, a book the captain had read that explained terrestrial features as the outcome of a gradual process taking place over extremely long periods. Moreover, FitzRoy took a request from Lyell himself to record observations on geological features such as erratic boulders.

FitzRoy and Darwin got on well together, but over the five-year survey voyage FitzRoy's violent temper—his outbursts had gained him the nickname "Hot Coffee"—occasioned quarrels sometimes "bordering on insanity", as Darwin later recalled. On a memorable occasion in March 1832 at Bahia
Bahia
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast. It is the fourth most populous Brazilian state after São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth-largest in size...

, Brazil, Darwin was horrified at tales of the treatment of slaves, but FitzRoy, while not endorsing brutality, recounted how an estancia owner once asked his slaves if they wished to be free and was told they didn't. Darwin incautiously asked FitzRoy if he thought slaves could answer such a question honestly when it was posed by their master, at which the captain lost his temper and, before storming out, told Darwin that if he doubted his word they could no longer live together; effectively he banished Darwin from his table. Before nightfall FitzRoy's temper cooled and he sent a handsome apology with the request that Darwin "continue to live with him", so they avoided the subject of slavery from that time on. However, none of their quarrels were over religious or doctrinal issues—such disagreements came after the voyage.

At the island of "Buttons Land" in Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

 they set up a mission post, but when they returned nine days later the possessions had been looted. Matthews gave up, rejoining the ship and leaving the three westernised Fuegians to continue the missionary work.

While in the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

, FitzRoy bought a schooner
Schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

 out of his own funds to assist with the surveying tasks he had been asked to complete, and had it refitted and renamed Adventure, hoping that the cost would be reimbursed by the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

. They returned to the mission post but found only Jemmy Button
Jemmy Button
Orundellico, known as "Jeremy Button" or "Jemmy Button", was a native Fuegian of the Yaghan people from islands around Tierra del Fuego, in modern Chile and Argentina...

 who had returned to native ways and refused the offer to go with them back to England.

At Valparaiso
Valparaíso
Valparaíso is a city and commune of Chile, center of its third largest conurbation and one of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural center in the Southwest Pacific hemisphere. The city is the capital of the Valparaíso Province and the Valparaíso Region...

 in 1834, while Darwin was away from the ship exploring the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

, the Admiralty reprimanded FitzRoy for buying the Adventure. He took the criticism badly, selling the schooner and announcing they would go back to recheck his survey, then resigning his command with doubts about his own sanity. The ship's officers persuaded him to withdraw his resignation and continue as planned once Darwin returned to the ship. FitzRoy continued his voyage, sailing on to the Galapagos, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, then detouring to Bahia
Bahia
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast. It is the fourth most populous Brazilian state after São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth-largest in size...

 in Brazil so that he could carry out an additional check to ensure the accuracy of his longitude measurements before returning to England.

Return from the voyage


Soon after the Beagles return on 2 October 1836, FitzRoy married a young woman to whom he had long been engaged. Darwin was amazed, as not once during the entire five years of the trip had FitzRoy spoken about being engaged.

FitzRoy was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences...

 in 1837. Extracts from his diary read to the society on 8 May 1837 included the observation (page 115) "Is it not extraordinary, that sea-worn, rolled, shingle-stones, and alluvial accumulations, compose the greater portion of these plains? How vast, and of what immense duration, must have been the actions of these waters which smoothed the shingle-stones now buried in the deserts of Patagonia!"

FitzRoy then wrote his account of the voyage, including editing the notes of the previous captain of the Beagle, which was completed and published in May 1839 as the Narrative of the surveying voyages of H.M.S. Adventure and Beagle in four volumes including Darwin's Journal and Remarks, 1832—1836 as the third volume. FitzRoy's account includes a section of Remarks with reference to the Deluge in which he admits that having read works "by geologists who contradict, by implication, if not in plain terms, the authenticity of the Scriptures" and "while led away by sceptical ideas" he had remarked to a friend that the vast plain of sedimentary material they were crossing "could never have been effected by a forty days' flood" indicating that in his "turn of mind and ignorance of scripture" he was willing to disbelieve the Biblical account. Concerned that such ideas might "reach the eyes of young sailors" he earnestly explains in great detail his renewed commitment to a literal reading of the Bible, with arguments that rock layers high in the mountains containing sea shells are actually proof of Noah's Flood and that the six days of creation could not have extended over aeons because the grass, herbs and trees would have died out during the long nights.

FitzRoy was clearly dissociating himself from the new ideas of Charles Lyell
Charles Lyell
Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet, Kt FRS was a British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day. He is best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which popularised James Hutton's concepts of uniformitarianism – the idea that the earth was shaped by slow-moving forces still in operation...

 which he had accepted during the voyage, and from Darwin's account which embraced these ideas, instead asserting a new commitment under the influence of his very religious wife to the doctrine of the established Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

.

FitzRoy was elected the Tory Member of Parliament for Durham in 1841, and appointed Acting Conservator of the River Mersey
Acting Conservator of the River Mersey
The Acting Conservator of the River Mersey is a unique position. The holder is responsible for ensuring navigation on, and protecting the environment of, the River Mersey in the North West of England...

 in 1842.

Governor of New Zealand


The first Governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson
William Hobson
Captain William Hobson RN was the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi.-Early life:...

, R.N.
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, died in late 1842 and the Church Missionary Society, which had a strong New Zealand presence, suggested FitzRoy as his successor. He took up his new task in December 1843.

It was probably an impossible job. His instructions were to maintain order and protect the Māori, while satisfying the land hunger of the settlers pouring into the country. He was given very few military resources, and Government revenue, mainly from customs duties, was woefully inadequate.

One of his first tasks was to enquire into the circumstances surrounding the Wairau Massacre. He found the actions of the Colonists to have been illegal and wisely declined to take any action against Te Rauparaha
Te Rauparaha
Te Rauparaha was a Māori rangatira and war leader of the Ngāti Toa tribe who took a leading part in the Musket Wars. He was influential in the original sale of conquered Rangitane land to the New Zealand Company and was a participant in the Wairau Incident in Marlborough...

, wisely because he did not have the troops to meet him on anything like equal terms. However, this left the New Zealand Company
New Zealand Company
The New Zealand Company originated in London in 1837 as the New Zealand Association with the aim of promoting the "systematic" colonisation of New Zealand. The association, and later the company, intended to follow the colonising principles of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who envisaged the creation of...

 and the settlers feeling betrayed and angry. One outcome was the appointment of a Government Superintendent for the area, establishing a ruling presence. He also insisted that the New Zealand Company pay the Māori a realistic price for the land they claimed to have purchased. These moves made him very unpopular.

Land sales were a continuing vexatious issue. The settlers were eager to buy land and some Māori were willing to sell, but under the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi
Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs from the North Island of New Zealand....

, land sales could only happen with the Government as an intermediary, and were thus extremely slow. FitzRoy changed the rules to allow settlers to purchase Māori land directly, subject to a duty of ten shillings per acre.

However, land sales proved slower than expected. To meet the financial shortfall, FitzRoy raised the customs duties, then replaced them with property
Property tax
A property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state or a municipality...

 and income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

es. All these expedients failed, and before long the Colony was faced with bankruptcy and FitzRoy was forced to begin issuing promissory note
Promissory note
A promissory note is a negotiable instrument, wherein one party makes an unconditional promise in writing to pay a determinate sum of money to the other , either at a fixed or determinable future time or on demand of the payee, under specific terms.Referred to as a note payable in accounting, or...

s, paper money without backing.

Meanwhile, the Māori in the far North, around the Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an area in the Northland Region of the North Island of New Zealand. Located 60 km north-west of Whangarei, it is close to the northern tip of the country....

, who had been the first to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, were feeling increasingly sidelined and resentful of the changes that had taken place in New Zealand. To signal their resentment, Hone Heke
Hone Heke
Hone Wiremu Heke Pokai was a Māori rangatira and war leader in Northern New Zealand and a nephew of Hongi Hika, an earlier war leader of the Ngāpuhi iwi. Hone Heke is considered the principal instigator of the Flagstaff War....

 cut down the flagpole at Kororareka. Rather than address the problems FitzRoy had the flagpole re-erected. Hone Heke cut it down again, four times altogether; by the fourth occasion the First New Zealand War, sometimes called the Flagstaff War
Flagstaff War
The Flagstaff War – also known as Hone Heke's Rebellion, the Northern War and erroneously as the First Māori War – was fought between 11 March 1845 and 11 January 1846 in and around the Bay of Islands, New Zealand...

 or the Northern War, was well under way.

It soon became apparent that FitzRoy did not have the resources to bring about a quick end to the war. Meanwhile, the spokesmen for the New Zealand Company were active back in Great Britain and FitzRoy's Governorship was presented to the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 in a very poor light. As a result, he was shortly afterwards recalled and replaced by George Grey
George Edward Grey
Sir George Grey, KCB was a soldier, explorer, Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony , the 11th Premier of New Zealand and a writer.-Early life and exploration:...

, then Governor of South Australia. Grey was also given the backing and support that FitzRoy had needed but was denied.

Meteorology



However, FitzRoy was not disgraced. He returned to Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and in September 1848 was made superintendent of the Royal Naval Dockyards at Woolwich
Woolwich
Woolwich is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.Woolwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created...

 and then in March 1849 was given his final sea command, the screw frigate HMS Arrogant
HMS Arrogant (1848)
HMS Arrogant was a wood screw frigate of the Royal Navy, launched in 1848 and sold in 1867. During the period of 1848–1850 it was commanded by Robert FitzRoy. On 15 April 1854 the Arrogant was one of a number of Royal Navy ships that captured the Russian brig Patrioten. The Arrogant served...

. In 1851 he retired from active service, partly due to ill health, and in that year was elected to the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 with the support of 13 fellows including Charles Darwin.

As the protégé of Francis Beaufort
Francis Beaufort
Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, FRS, FRGS was an Irish hydrographer and officer in Britain's Royal Navy...

, he was in 1854 appointed, on the recommendation of the President of the Royal Society, as chief of a new department to deal with the collection of weather data at sea, with the title of Meteorological Statist to the Board of Trade and a staff of three. This was the forerunner of the modern Meteorological Office
Met Office
The Met Office , is the United Kingdom's national weather service, and a trading fund of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills...

. He arranged for captains of ships to provide information, with tested instruments being loaned for this purpose, and for computation of the data collected. He also was responsible for the design and distribution of a type of barometer which on his recommendation was fixed at every port to be consulted by crews before setting to sea: stone housings for such barometers are still visible at many fishing harbours. The invention of several different types of barometer
Barometer
A barometer is a scientific instrument used in meteorology to measure atmospheric pressure. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather...

s was attributed to him, and these became popular and continued in production into the 20th century, characteristically engraved with Admiral FitzRoy's special remarks on interpretation, such as "When rising: In winter the rise of the barometer presages frost".

A terrible storm in 1859 that caused the loss of the Royal Charter
Royal Charter (ship)
The Royal Charter was a steam clipper which was wrecked off the beach of Porth Alerth in Dulas Bay on the north-east coast of Anglesey on 26 October 1859. The precise number of dead is uncertain as the passenger list was lost in the wreck but about 459 lives were lost, the highest death toll of any...

 inspired FitzRoy to develop charts to allow predictions to be made, which he called "forecasting the weather", thus coining the term weather forecast Fifteen land stations were established to use the new telegraph to transmit to him daily reports of weather at set times. The first daily weather forecasts were published in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 in 1860, and in the following year a system was introduced of hoisting storm warning cones at the principal ports when a gale was expected. The "Weather Book" which he published in 1863 was far in advance of the scientific opinion of the time.

The storm also caused the Crown to distribute storm glass
Storm glass
A storm glass is a type of weather forecasting device, composed of a sealed glass container, filled with liquid, that allows the user to forecast the weather by observing the appearance of the liquid in the glass.-Description:...

es, then known as "FitzRoy's storm barometers," to many small fishing communities around the British Isles.

Unfortunately, many fishing fleet owners objected to gale warnings, requiring that fleets not leave the ports and under this pressure, FitzRoy's system was abandoned for a short time after his death. The fishing fleet owners reckoned without the pressure of the normal fishermen, for whom FitzRoy had been a hero, responsible for saving many lives and the system was reinstated shortly thereafter.

Fitzroy also debunked Lieutenant Stephen Martin Saxby
Stephen Martin Saxby
Stephen Martin Saxby was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy of England during the 1800s. Saxby practiced a form of Meteorological astrology or Pseudo Meteorology in the Victorian Era. Through his calculations he predicted a storm called the Saxby Gale. Saxby also published a book in 1864 called the...

's lunar weather forecasting method as pseudoscience. Saxby tried to counter Fitzroy's arguments in the second edition of his book Saxby Weather System.

The Origin of Species



When The Origin of Species
The Origin of Species
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the...

 was published FitzRoy was dismayed and apparently felt guilty for his part in the theory's development. He was in Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 on 30 June 1860 to present a paper on storms and attended the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science
British Association for the Advancement of Science
frame|right|"The BA" logoThe British Association for the Advancement of Science or the British Science Association, formerly known as the BA, is a learned society with the object of promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters, and facilitating interaction between...

 at which Samuel Wilberforce
Samuel Wilberforce
Samuel Wilberforce was an English bishop in the Church of England, third son of William Wilberforce. Known as "Soapy Sam", Wilberforce was one of the greatest public speakers of his time and place...

 attacked Darwin's theory. During the debate FitzRoy, seen as "a grey haired Roman nosed elderly gentleman", stood in the centre of the audience and "lifting an immense Bible first with both and afterwards with one hand over his head, solemnly implored the audience to believe God rather than man". As he admitted that The Origin of Species had given him "acutest pain", the crowd shouted him down.

Personal life


Robert FitzRoy was married twice. In 1836 he married Mary Henrietta O'Brien, they had four children: Emily-Unah, Fanny, Katherine and Robert O'Brien
Robert O'Brien FitzRoy
Vice Admiral Sir Robert O'Brien FitzRoy KCB was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Channel Squadron.-Naval career:...

. In 1854, after the death of his first wife, he married Maria Isabella Smyth in London. They had one daughter, Laura Elizabeth.

Death and legacy



In 1863 FitzRoy was promoted to Vice-Admiral due to seniority, but in the coming years internal and external troubles at the Meteorological Office, financial concerns as well as failing health and his struggle with depression took their toll. On 30 April 1865, Vice-Admiral FitzRoy committed suicide.
FitzRoy died having exhausted his entire fortune (£6,000, the equivalent of £400,000 today) on public expenditure. When this came to light, in order to prevent his wife and daughter living in destitution, his friend and colleague Bartholomew Sulivan
Bartholomew Sulivan
Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan was a British sailor and hydrographer, born at Tregew, Flushing, near Falmouth, Cornwall.He was a leading advocate of the value of nautical surveying in relation to naval operations...

 began an Admiral FitzRoy Testimonial Fund which succeeded in getting the government to pay back £3,000 of this sum (Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 contributed a further £100). Queen Victoria gave the special favour of allowing his widow and daughter the use of apartments at Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London; it has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century. The palace is located south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames...

, until her death.

FitzRoy is buried in the front church yard of All Saints Church in Upper Norwood
Upper Norwood
Upper Norwood is an elevated area in south London, England within the postcode SE19. It is a residential district largely in the London Borough of Croydon although some parts extend into the London Borough of Lambeth, London Borough of Southwark and the London Borough of Bromley. Upper Norwood...

, London. His memorial was restored by the Meteorological Office in 1981.

The book Sailing directions for South America of FitzRoy led Chilean hydrographer Francisco Hudson
Francisco Hudson
thumb|right|250px|Map showing in yellow the main route used to reach [[Punta Arenas]] by sea from [[Ancud]], and in orange Hudson's proposed route. The red dot shows the 20 km wide [[Ofqui Isthmus]] the only obstacle that makes this route intransitable....

 to infer the possible existence of sailing route through internal waters from Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago
Chiloé Archipelago consists of several islands lying off the coast of Chile. It is separated from mainland Chile by Chacao Channel in the north, the Sea of Chiloé in the east and Gulf of Corcovado to the southeast. All of the archipelago except Desertores Islands, which are part of Palena...

 to Straits of Magellan, but Hudson was however the first to realise that the Isthmus of Ofqui
Isthmus of Ofqui
Isthmus of Ofqui is a narrow isthmus that connects the Taitao Peninsula with the Chilean mainland. The isthmus is bounded in the south by the Gulf of Penas, in the north by the San Rafael Lagoon, in the west by the Taitao Peninsula and in the east by the Northern Patagonia Ice Field.Geologically...

 made this impossible.

Mount Fitz Roy (Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, at the extreme south of the continent) was named after him by the Argentine scientist and explorer Francisco Moreno
Francisco Moreno
Francisco Pascacio Moreno was a prominent explorer and academic in Argentina, where he is usually referred to as Perito Moreno...

. It is 3440 m (11,286 ft) high. The aboriginals had not named it, and used the word Chaltén (meaning smoking mountain) for other peaks as well. Fitzroy River
Fitzroy River (Western Australia)
The Fitzroy River is located in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia.-Discovery:The Fitzroy River was discovered by the West in 1837 by George Grey in the H.M.S. Beagle. The river was subsequently named by Lt J L Stokes on 26/2/1838 after Captain Robert FitzRoy R.N...

, in northern Western Australia, was named after him by Lieutenant John Lort Stokes
John Lort Stokes
Admiral John Lort Stokes, RN was an officer in the Royal Navy who travelled on HMS Beagle for close to eighteen years.Stokes grew up in Scotchwell near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. He joined the Navy on 20 September 1824...

 who, at the time, commanded HMS Beagle (previously commanded by FitzRoy). The impressive South American conifer Fitzroya cupressoides
Fitzroya
Fitzroya is a monotypic genus in the cypress family.-Species:The single living species, Fitzroya cupressoides, is a tall, long-lived conifer native to the Andes mountains of southern Chile and Argentina, where it is an important member of the Valdivian temperate rain forests...

 is named after him as well as the Delphinus fitzroyi, a species of dolphin discovered by Darwin during his voyage aboard the Beagle. Fitzroy, Falkland Islands
Fitzroy, Falkland Islands
Fitzroy is a settlement on East Falkland. It is divided into Fitzroy North and Fitzroy South.It is named after Robert FitzRoy who sailed with Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle, andis on the inlet known as Port Pleasant....

 and Port Fitzroy, New Zealand are also named after him.

A memorial to FitzRoy is constructed atop the Bahia Wulaia
Bahia Wulaia
Bahia Wulaia is a bay on the western shore of Isla Navarino along the Murray Channel in extreme southern Chile. The island and adjacent strait are part of the commune of Cabo de Hornos in the Antártica Chilena Province, which is part of the Magallanes and Antartica Chilena Region. There is an...

 dome middens on Isla Navarino
Isla Navarino
Isla Navarino is a Chilean island located strategically between Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, to the north, and Cape Horn, to the south. The island forms part of the Commune of Cabo de Hornos, the southernmost commune in Chile and in the world, belonging to Antártica Chilena Province in the XII...

 in Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

, South America. It was presented in his bicentenary (2005) and commemorates his 23 January 1833 landing on Wulaia Cove. Another memorial presented also in FitzRoy's bicentenary commemorates his Cape Horn
Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...

 landing on 19 April 1830.

On 4 February 2002, when the shipping forecast sea area
Shipping Forecast
The Shipping Forecast is a four-times-daily BBC Radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. It is produced by the Met Office and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The forecasts sent over the Navtex...

 Finisterre was renamed to avoid confusion with the Spanish forecast area of the same name
Cape Finisterre
right|thumb|300px|Position of Cape Finisterre on the [[Iberian Peninsula]]Cape Finisterre is a rock-bound peninsula on the west coast of Galicia, Spain....

, the new name chosen by the UK's Meteorological Office was "FitzRoy", in honour of their founder.

In 2005, a novel entitled This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson
Harry Thompson
Harry William Thompson was an English radio and television producer, comedy writer, novelist and biographer....

 was published. The novel's plot followed the lives of FitzRoy, Darwin and others connected with the Beagle expeditions, following them between the years of 1828 and 1865. It was a nominee on the long list for the 2005 Man Booker Prize
Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and...

 (although Thompson died in November 2005).

FitzRoy has been commemorated by the Fitzroy Building at the University of Plymouth
University of Plymouth
Plymouth University is the largest university in the South West of England, with over 30,000 students and is 9th largest in the United Kingdom by total number of students . It has almost 3,000 staff...

, used by the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Science.

Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy was commemorated on two stamps issued by the Royal Mail for the Falkland Islands and St Helena. The weather ship Weather Advisor (formerly ) was renamed Admiral Fitzroy in 1976.

In 2010 New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research or NIWA , is a Crown Research Institute of New Zealand. Established in 1992, NIWA conducts commercial and non-commercial research across a broad range of disciplines in the environmental sciences...

 (NIWA) named its new IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 supercomputer
Supercomputer
A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling A supercomputer is a...

 "FitzRoy" in honour of Robert FitzRoy.

External links