16 December 2008

Captain Fitzroy....

Alfred Russel Wallace hath a Rottweiler. Darwin obviously had a Beagle but the Beagle had a captain, Robert Fitzroy.

Fitzroy was 26 when he was given orders to take Beagle around the world and the fact that Darwin arrived in Falmouth in once piece with notebooks full of Good Things is in no small part due to Fitzroy's powers of command and seamanship. Some of the conditions he sailed through would make most modern sailors wet their oilskins from the inside.
2009 is Darwin's year, but as a sailor I don't want this great sailor forgotten in the welter of Darwiniana. Sailors have him to thank for pioneering weather forecasting using barometric pressure and he became the founding head of what has become the Meteorological Office. I suspect he saved a lot of seafarer's lives.

A Fitzroy page was on the to-do list, but an email from science author John Gribben has prompted me to get on with it. It will be posted soon.


Jamie said...

Hurrah for the sailors! Looking forward to seeing the page.

Gina said...

I'm glad he will get his own site. He deserves it well.
Without Robert FiztRoy offering Darwin the post of the Beagle's naturalist, Darwin would have probably never gotten the opportunity to undertake such a voyage.
Please note that his name is written FitzRoy, not Fitzroy. ;-)