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new_zealand_history:d_robert_fitzroy [2011/07/08 16:55]
tel
new_zealand_history:d_robert_fitzroy [2011/07/08 17:26]
tel
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 Four years after returning home, FitzRoy was elected to Parliament in 1841 as a Conservative,​ representing Durham in the Commons. There he worked to improve conditions in the merchantile marine including the regulation of those who wished to be masters or chief mates in the merchant fleets. He also was appointed a Conservator of the River Mersey and carried out a survey of conditions on that commercially important river. Many thought FitzRoy would go far, perhaps a Cabinet post or President of the Board of Trade, and most certainly a knighthood. But none that was to be. In the Spring of 1843, FitzRoy life took an unexpected turn when he was offered the position of Governor of New Zealand, which he dutifully and enthusiastically accepted. Four years after returning home, FitzRoy was elected to Parliament in 1841 as a Conservative,​ representing Durham in the Commons. There he worked to improve conditions in the merchantile marine including the regulation of those who wished to be masters or chief mates in the merchant fleets. He also was appointed a Conservator of the River Mersey and carried out a survey of conditions on that commercially important river. Many thought FitzRoy would go far, perhaps a Cabinet post or President of the Board of Trade, and most certainly a knighthood. But none that was to be. In the Spring of 1843, FitzRoy life took an unexpected turn when he was offered the position of Governor of New Zealand, which he dutifully and enthusiastically accepted.
  
- +===== Fitzroy In New Zealand ===== 
  
 FitzRoy arrived in time to adjudicate the Wairau massacre, finding that the New Zealand Company settlers had no right to try to arrest Te Rauparaha but that Te Rangihaeata was wrong to have executed the prisoners taken in the affray. This infuriated the settlers while Te Rauparaha sent a message that FitzRoy should not trouble to send soldiers to find him at Waikanae as he would be happy to turn up in Wellington with a thousand warriors on any date FitzRoy cared to name. In less than two years, political allies of the New Zealand Company engineered FitzRoy’s recall while the settlers in Nelson burnt him in effigy. As the Gribbins point out in their biography, ironically FitzRoy was not recalled because of the citizens'​ petitions for his removal, nor any overall failing of his administration,​ but due to changing politics back home. With hindsight, we might well applaud FitzRoy for his governorship as he stood up for native rights. FitzRoy arrived in time to adjudicate the Wairau massacre, finding that the New Zealand Company settlers had no right to try to arrest Te Rauparaha but that Te Rangihaeata was wrong to have executed the prisoners taken in the affray. This infuriated the settlers while Te Rauparaha sent a message that FitzRoy should not trouble to send soldiers to find him at Waikanae as he would be happy to turn up in Wellington with a thousand warriors on any date FitzRoy cared to name. In less than two years, political allies of the New Zealand Company engineered FitzRoy’s recall while the settlers in Nelson burnt him in effigy. As the Gribbins point out in their biography, ironically FitzRoy was not recalled because of the citizens'​ petitions for his removal, nor any overall failing of his administration,​ but due to changing politics back home. With hindsight, we might well applaud FitzRoy for his governorship as he stood up for native rights.
  
 FitzRoy’s voyage home was notable for a storm he forecast when the ship was anchored for the night in calm weather in Magellan Straits. Both FitzRoy’s barometers were falling fast but the captain ignored his warnings and retired below deck. Eventually, a young officer agreed to put out a heavy anchor on a heavy chain. When the storm struck at 2am, the heavy chain broke but tangled around the lighter chain. This was all that saved the ship from crashing into rocks and foundering with the loss of all onboard. ​ FitzRoy’s voyage home was notable for a storm he forecast when the ship was anchored for the night in calm weather in Magellan Straits. Both FitzRoy’s barometers were falling fast but the captain ignored his warnings and retired below deck. Eventually, a young officer agreed to put out a heavy anchor on a heavy chain. When the storm struck at 2am, the heavy chain broke but tangled around the lighter chain. This was all that saved the ship from crashing into rocks and foundering with the loss of all onboard. ​
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 +For the next years of his life, FitzRoy returned to his interest in the sea and the navy. He foresaw that the future of the Royal Navy lay in steamships, and he desired another command. In July 1848, he was assigned to oversee the outfitting of a new naval frigate: HMS Arrogant. Arrogant was a hybrid, a sailing ship equipped with a screw propeller turned by a steam engine. When the ship was commissioned the following March, FitzRoy was appointed its captain and set sail on a shakedown cruise.
 +
 +During this time, FitzRoy, however, fell into a "black dog" depression and resigned to settle his affairs and regain his health, according to his own accounts. But this was his last command. His hopes of another were dashed by the excess of captains for ships in the Royal Navy. But while this may have been unsettling for FitzRoy, it paved the way for his place in meteorological history.
 +
 +===== Weather Forecasting =====
  
 The chance to develop his ideas on weather forecasting came to FitzRoy in 1854 when he was appointed Meteorological Statist to the Board of Trade. Initially tasked with compiling weather statistics for each part of the globe from ship’s logs, he took advantage of the invention of the telegraph to initiate forecasting. Barometers were distributed around the coast and their readings telegraphed to FitzRoy’s office every morning along with wind and temperature observations. Within hours a forecast would be telegraphed back. If FitzRoy thought a storm imminent, warning symbols of drums and cones were displayed from a mast.  The chance to develop his ideas on weather forecasting came to FitzRoy in 1854 when he was appointed Meteorological Statist to the Board of Trade. Initially tasked with compiling weather statistics for each part of the globe from ship’s logs, he took advantage of the invention of the telegraph to initiate forecasting. Barometers were distributed around the coast and their readings telegraphed to FitzRoy’s office every morning along with wind and temperature observations. Within hours a forecast would be telegraphed back. If FitzRoy thought a storm imminent, warning symbols of drums and cones were displayed from a mast. 
new_zealand_history/d_robert_fitzroy.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/08 17:26 by tel
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