Fitzroy, Robert

FitzRoy, Robert

FitzRoy, Robert, 1805–65, British naval officer, meteorologist, and hydrologist. Given (1829) temporary command of the HMS Beagle, he completed a survey of the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego and the Straits of Magellan. Reappointed (1831) commander of the Beagle, he set off on a five-year journey with the naturalist Charles Darwin that surveyed Cape Horn, the South American coast, the Galápagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. In 1839 the three-volume narrative of the Beagle's voyages was published; FitzRoy was the main author and editor of the first two volumes, and Darwin was responsible for the third, which became known as The Voyage of the Beagle. FitzRoy became a Tory member of parliament for Durham (1841), and then governor of New Zealand (1843–45), where he was sympathetic to the Maori and alienated British settlers. Retiring from active service in 1850 for health reasons, he nonetheless was promoted to rear admiral (1857) and vice admiral (1863). From 1854 he devoted himself to nautical meteorology for the Board of Trade, inventing a barometer and devising a storm warning system for ships that was a precursor to the modern science of weather forecasting. During a bout of severe depression, he took his own life.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fitzroy, Robert


Born July 5, 1805, at Ampton Hall, Suffolk; died Apr. 30, 1865, in Norwood, Surrey. English hydrographer and meteorologist; vice admiral.

Between 1828 and 1830, in an expedition under Commander P. P. King, Fitzroy surveyed the southern tip of South America on the Beagle. From 1831 to 1836 he headed the oceanographic expedition on the Beagle, in which C. R. Darwin participated; during the expedition the coasts of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and the Strait of Magellan were surveyed. In 1854, Fitzroy was appointed head of the meteorological department of the Board of Trade and organized the meteorological service in England, including a weather service to forecast storms.


Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle, vols. 1–3. London, 1839.


Khrgian, A. Kh. Ocherki razvitiia meteorologii. Leningrad, 1948.
Magidovich, I. P. lstoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Tsentral’noi i luzhnoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?