- HMS Beagle
HMS "Beagle" was a "Cherokee" class 10-gun brig-sloop of the
Royal Navy, named after the beagle, a breed of dog. She was launched on 11 May 1820 from the Woolwich Dockyardon 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 Kingdomin which she was the first ship to sail under the new London Bridge. After that there was no immediate need for "Beagle" so she was kept in reserve for five years and "lay in ordinary", moored afloat but without masts or rigging. She was then adapted as a survey barqueand took part in three expeditions. On the second survey voyage the young naturalist Charles Darwinwas on board, and his work would eventually make the "Beagle" one of the most famous ships in history.
On 27 September 1825 "Beagle" docked at Woolwich for repairs and fitted out for her new duties at a total cost of £5,913. Her guns were reduced from ten cannons to six and a
mizzenmast was added to improve her manoeuvrability, thereby changing her from a brigto a bark (or barque).
"Beagle" set sail from
Plymouthon 22 May 1826 on her first voyage, under the command of Captain Pringle Stokes. The mission was to accompany the larger ship HMS|Adventure|1809|6 (380 tons) on a hydrographicsurvey of Patagoniaand Tierra del Fuego, under the overall command of the Australian Captain Phillip Parker King, Commanderand Surveyor. [harvnb|Parker King|1839|p= [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F10.1&pageseq=20 xi - xix] .] [King was born on Norfolk Island and left for England in 1796. [http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/indexes/colsec/k/F31c_kh-ky-03.htm Colonial Secretary Index, 1788-1825, In the New South Wales State Records] .]
Faced with the more difficult part of the survey in the desolate waters of
Tierra del Fuego, Captain Pringle Stokes fell into a deep depression. At Port Famine on the Strait of Magellanhe locked himself in his cabin for 14 days, then on 2 August 1828 shot himself and died in delirium 12 days later. [ [http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/biography/0,,986985,00.html Guardian review: Man on a suicide mission] ] Captain Parker King then replaced Stokes with the Executive Officer of "Beagle", Lieutenant W.G. Skyring. They sailed to Rio de Janeirowhere on 15 December 1828 Rear Admiral Sir Robert Otway, commander in chief of the South American station aboard HMS|Ganges|1821|6, named as (temporary) Captain of the "Beagle" his aide, Flag Lieutenant Robert FitzRoy.
The 23-year-old aristocrat FitzRoy proved an able commander and meticulous surveyor. In one incident a group of Fuegians stole a ship's boat, and FitzRoy took their families on board as hostages. Eventually he held two men, a girl and a boy who was given the name of
Jemmy Button, and these four native Fuegians were taken back with them when the "Beagle" returned to England on 14 October 1830.
It was originally intended that HMS|Chanticleer|1808|2 would make the second South American Survey, but due to her poor condition "Beagle" was substituted for the voyage. FitzRoy, who had been considering how to return the Fuegians who had trained as missionaries, was re-appointed as commander on 25 June 1831 and the "Beagle" was commissioned on 4 July 1831 under his command, with Lieutenants
John Clements Wickhamand Bartholomew James Sulivan. [harvnb|FitzRoy|1839|p= [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F10.2&pageseq=37 14] .]
The "Beagle" was immediately taken into dock at Devonport for extensive rebuilding and refitting. As she required a new deck, FitzRoy had the upper-deck raised considerably, by 8 inches (200 mm) aft and 12 inches (300 mm) forward. The "Cherokee"-class ships had the reputation of being "
coffinbrigs," which handled badly and were prone to sinking; the raised deck gave the "Beagle" better handling and made her less liable to become top-heavy and capsize by helping the decks to drain more quickly so that less water would collect in the gunwales. Additional sheathing added to the hull added about 7 tons to her displacement. FitzRoy spared no expense in her fitting out, which included 22 chronometers, [harvnb|FitzRoy|1839|p= [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F10.2&pageseq=40 17] .] and five examples of the " Sympiesometer", a kind of mercury-free barometerpatented by Alexander Adiewhich was favoured by FitzRoy as giving the accurate readings required by the Admiralty. [cite web |url=http://www.antique-horology.org/_editorial/sympiezometerfontijn/ |title=The sympiesometer designed by Alexander Adie |accessdate=2007-11-30 ]
In the light of the fate of Stokes and the suicide of his own uncle, FitzRoy was concerned about the lonely position of a captain at that time. His attempts to get a friend to accompany him fell through, and he asked his friend and superior, Captain
Francis Beaufort, to seek a gentleman passenger who would act as a companion as well as having opportunities as a naturalist. This led to Charles Darwinjoining the voyage.
"Beagle" was originally scheduled to leave on 24 October 1831 but because of delays in her preparations the departure was delayed until December. She attempted to depart on 10 December but ran into bad weather. Finally, on the morning of 27 December, the "Beagle" left its anchorage in the Barn Pool, under Mount Edgecumbe on the west side of
Plymouth Sound, [harvnb|FitzRoy|1839|p= [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F10.2&pageseq=65 42] .] on what was to become a ground breaking scientific expedition. After completing extensive surveys in South Americashe returned via New Zealand, Sydney, Hobart Town (6 Feb 1836), to Falmouth, Cornwall, Englandon 2 October 1836. [harvnb|FitzRoy|1839|p= [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F10.2&pageseq=757 638] .]
Six months later, "Beagle" set off in 1837 to survey large parts of the coast of
Australiaunder the command of Commander John Clements Wickham, who had been a Lieutenant on the second voyage, with assistant surveyor Lieutenant John Lort Stokeswho had been a Midshipman on the first voyage of the "Beagle", then mate and assistant surveyor on the second voyage (no relation to Pringle Stokes). They started with the western coast between the Swan River (modern Perth, Australia) and the Fitzroy River, Western Australia, then surveyed both shores of the Bass Straitat the southeast corner of the continent. To aid the Beagle in her surveying operations in Bass’s Strait, the Colonial cutter "Vansittart", of Van Diemen’s Land, was most liberally lent by His Excellency Sir John Franklin, and placed under the command of Mr C C Forsyth, the Senior Mate, assisted by Mr Pasco, another of her Mates. In May 1839 they sailed north to survey the shores of the Arafura Sea opposite Timor. Wickham named the Beagle Gulfand Port Darwin, which was first sighted by Stokes and which later gave its name to the city of Darwin, Australia. When Wickham fell ill and resigned, the command was taken over in March 1841 by Lieutenant John Lort Stokes who continued the survey. The third voyage was completed in 1843.
In 1845 the "Beagle" was refitted as a static coastguard watch vessel and transferred to
Customs and Exciseto control smuggling on the Essexcoast to the north bank of the Thames estuary. She was moored mid-river on the River Roachwhich forms part of a maze of waterways in the marshes south of Burnham-on-Crouch. In 1851 oystercompanies and traders petitioned for her to be removed as she was obstructing the river, and the 1851 Navy Listdated 25 May showed her renamed as "Southend "W.V. No. 7" at Paglesham". In 1870, she was sold to local scrap merchants "Murray and Trainer" for breaking up.
Investigations started in 2000 by a team led by Dr Robert Prescott of the
University of St Andrewsfound documents confirming that "W.V. 7" was the "Beagle", and noted a vessel matching her size shown midstream on the 1847 hydrographic survey chart. A later chart showed a nearby indentation to the north bank which could have been a dock for the "Beagle". Site investigations found an area of marshy ground some 15 ft (5 m) deep matching this chart position, with many fragments of potteryof the correct period.
atomic dielectric resonancesurvey carried out in November 2003 found traces of timbers forming the size and shape of the lower hull, indicating a substantial amount of timbers from below the waterline still in place. An old anchorof 1841 pattern was excavated. It was also found that the 1871 censusrecorded a new farmhousein the name of William Murray and Thomas Rainer, leading to speculation that the merchant's name was a misprint for T. Rainer. The farmhouse was demolished in the 1940s, but a nearby boathouse incorporated timbers matching knee timbers used in the "Beagle". Further investigations are proposed.
Their investigations featured in a BBC
Televisionprogramme which showed how each watch ship would have accommodated 7 coastguard officers, drawn from other areas to minimise collusion with the locals. Each officer had about 3 rooms to house their family, forming a small community. They would use small boats to intercept smugglers, and the investigators found a causewaygiving access at low tide across the soft mud of the river bank. Apparently the next coastguard station along was the "Kangaroo", a sister ship of the "Beagle".
Currently planned for 2009 is a replica of HMS "Beagle." This £3.3m wooden barque is to be built as part of an ambitious project to recreate Darwin's 1830s voyage which proved crucial in the genesis and intellectual foundations of the theory of natural selection. The vessel is to be built in
Milford Haven. When completed, the new "Beagle" is anticipated to be able to recreate the 1831-36 circumnavigation with international crews of aspiring young scientists aboard, following the same course and making similar landfalls to those made by the original HMS "Beagle" when Darwin was aboard. [ [http://www.ybw.com/auto/newsdesk/20070229093746ships.html "Replicas on the Blocks,"] "Ships Monthly." April 2007.]
Beagle 2- Mars space probe named after HMS "Beagle", which was lost 25 December 2003
The Voyage of the Beagle", a book written by Charles Darwinabout the "Beagle"'s second voyage
Discoveries in Australia", a book written by John Lort Stokesabout the "Beagle"'s third voyage
The Voyage of the Space Beagle," a science fictionadventure by A.E. van Vogtloosely inspired by Darwin's voyage aboard HMS "Beagle."
Sources and references
*"HMS Beagle: Survey Ship "Extraordinary" / Karl Heinz Marquardt (2007) ISBN 0851777031
*"Voyage of the Beagle", Charles Darwin (including FitzRoy's commentary on refitting the "Beagle" from his account of the voyage), Penguin Books, London 1989 ISBN 0-14-043268-X
author-link=Phillip Parker King
title=Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe. Proceedings of the first expedition, 1826-30, under the command of Captain P. Parker King, R.N., F.R.S.
title=Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe. Proceedings of the second expedition, 1831-36, under the command of Captain Robert Fitz-Roy, R.N.
title=Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe. Appendix to Volume II
title=Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe. Journal and remarks. 1832-1836.
* [http://darwin-online.org.uk/EditorialIntroductions/Freeman_JournalofResearches.html Darwin Online - bibliography] : "Proceedings" of the first and second expeditions, and Darwin's "Journal" ("The Voyage of the Beagle").
*gutenberg author| id=Charles+Darwin | name=Charles Darwin list includes "The Voyage of the Beagle"
John Lort Stokes, [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12115 "Discoveries in Australia", Volume 1] , [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12146 Volume 2] .
Robert FitzRoy, 1836, [http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=A73&viewtype=image&pageseq=1 "Sketch of the Surveying Voyages of his Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, 1825-1836. Commanded by Captains P. P. King, P. Stokes, and R. Fitz-Roy, Royal Navy"] . "Journal of the Geological Society of London" 6: 311-343
* [http://www.caphorniers.cl/Fitz%20Roy/relato%20ing/testimony01.htm Visit and Testimony of Captain Fitz-Roy]
* [http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConFactFile.64/HMS-Beagle.html HMS "Beagle" - Port Cities]
* [http://www.antique-horology.org/_editorial/sympiezometerfontijn/ The sympiesometer of Alexander Adie]
* [http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/covingto/chap_1.htm The Journal of Syms Covington - Chapter 1.]
* [http://www.thebeagleproject.com/ The replica HMS Beagle project]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3490564.stm BBC News - Darwin's Beagle ship 'found']
* [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1148523,00.html The Observer - Evolution of radar points to HMS Beagle's resting place.]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/5190734.stm BBC News - Plans to build HMS Beagle replica for 2009 Darwin bicentenary.]
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