Robert FitzRoy (1805-1865)

British meteorologist and hydrographer. Born on 5 July 1805 at Ampton Hall, Suffolk. FitzRoy attended the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, entering the Navy in 1819. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in September 1824.

In November 1828 he took command of H.M.S. Beagle after the suicide of her former captain. Between 1828 and 1830 he worked on a survey of the coasts of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and the Straits of Magellan, returning to the same area in 1831 to complete the survey. On this second trip, which was to last five years, he took a young man named Charles Darwin (1809-1882) with him as the ship’s naturalist.

In 1841 FitzRoy became a Member of Parliament and between 1843 and 1845 was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand. FitzRoy retired from active service in 1850 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society the following year. In 1854 FitzRoy became the chief of the newly-formed Meteorological Department of the Board of Trade, the forerunner of today’s Meteorological Office. In 1861 he introduced a system of storm warnings which developed into the present daily forecasts. In 1863 he published his Weather Book.

FitzRoy committed suicide at his home in Upper Norwood, London, on 30 April 1865.