The collection comprises of correspondence by Beaufort on various subjects including the search for Sir John Franklin and the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 and the work of Sir John Ross.
Sir Francis Beaufort collection
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 15 Sir Francis Beaufort
- Dates of Creation1849-1857
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical DescriptionCorrespondence (circa 20 leaves)
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Francis Beaufort was born in 1774 near Navan in County Meath, Ireland, the son of Reverend Daniel Beaufort, a renowned topographer. He entered the Royal Navy in June 1787, advancing to the rank of lieutenant in 1796 and promoted commander in 1800 after he was severely wounded during active service off the coast of Malaga. In 1805, he was appointed to the command of Woolwich, conducting a survey of the entrance to Rio de la Plata while serving off the coast of Buenos Aires. In 1811, Beaufort was appointed to survey the coast of Karamania but his work was brought to an end the following year when his crew was attacked and he himself seriously wounded by Turkish pirates. For many years after his return to Britain, he was engaged in constructing the charts of his survey.
In 1829, Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer to the Royal Navy, a post he held until his retirement in 1855. During this period, he commissioned voyages to survey and chart areas of navigational importance with the result that the Chart Catalogue listed 1,981 charts by the time of his retirement. He directed many exploring expeditions, including the British Naval Expedition, 1839-1843 (leader James Clark Ross), the searches for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition, and the surveys of South American waters by Captain Robert Fitzroy in HMS Beagle, 1831-1836.
Beaufort is probably best remembered for originating the Beaufort Scale, a table for estimating the force of wind velocities at sea, first used officially by Fitzroy in 1831 and introduced into the Navy in 1838. Among his other achievements was the introduction of official Tide Tables in 1833 and Notices to Mariners in 1834. Promoted rear admiral in 1846, he was knighted in 1848 in recognition of his services as Hydrographer. He died on 17 December 1857 in London. Beaufort Sea, in the Canadian Arctic, and Beaufort Island, in the Ross Sea, are named for him.
The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient
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Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Dictionary of National Biography volume 4, Smith, Elder & Co. London (1885) and 'Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort' by L S Dawson in Memoirs of Hydrography Part II Cornmarket Press, London (1969) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08)[pub.1969] and Irish Scientists and United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003
Other Finding Aids
Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.
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