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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Robert FitzRoy   [19–]20 October [1836]

Dearest Philos

What you will say to me for not having written before I know not—but really I have not been idle or forgetful.

I trusted to Fuller1 for all immediately necessary information and I will now try to give you the rest.

Captain Beaufort was out of town when my letters & papers reached London (from Falmouth) and the Chart duster put them away in a corner (excepting one private one) to await Capt. B’s return!!! Those papers related to the Chronometric results &c &c—upon which the necessity for our going to Woolwich was to be founded—2

Orders had been sent to Plymouth for the Beagle to pay off there—but Ld. Amelius Beauclerk had civility & sense enough to stay proceedings and approve of my going to London to see the Lords & Masters myself— I boarded Sir John Barrow, and then made a stalking horse of him while attacking the others.

All was satisfactorily settled in a very short time—and they acceded civilly to my proposal of calling at Portsmouth. I was delighted to see that the Valpo. cargo of charts had not only arrived but that they were mostly Engraved —or in the Engraver’s hands—and on a large scale. They have given much satisfaction at the Hydl. Office.3

I have promised to give them a short paper for the Geogl. Society—4 a slight sketch of our voyage— I will do what I can—according to time and ask you to add, and correct.

Rice Trevor5 & Alexr Wood crossed me on the road—they in one mail—I in another—but I was soon down again & with them at Devonport— Fuller told me you looked very well and had on a good hat!

Who the deuce was my cousin in a broad brimmed hat?

I was delighted by your letter.— The account of your family—& the joy tipsy style of the whole letter were very pleasing. Indeed Charles Darwin I have also been very happy—even at that horrid place Plymouth—for that horrid place contains a treasure to me which even you were ignorant of!! Now guess—and think & guess again. Believe it, or not,—the news is true —I am going to be married!!!!!!! to Mary OBrien—6

Now you may know that I had decided on this step, long very long ago.— All is settled & we shall be married in December. Rice Trevor Alexr. Wood & Talbot like her much. Pray call on my sister in Stratton Street—she longs to see you,—& ask to see the children.—

Money matters are better than you think. Your’s most sincerely | Robt. FitzRoy

Beagle. Portsmouth 20th. Oct. (night)— arrived this morning—shall sail tomorrow morning for Woolwich Sights are taken.


Fuller was FitzRoy’s steward in the Beagle (‘Beagle’ diary, p. 81).
The plan for the chronometric readings called for the final reading to be made at Greenwich. This was done on 28 October, after which the Beagle proceeded to Woolwich to be paid off (Narrative 2: 638).
FitzRoy’s outstanding ability as a surveyor was cited in a report to the House of Commons, 10 February 1848. Captain Beaufort is quoted as saying, ‘From the Equator to Cape Horn, and from thence round to the river Plata on the eastern side of America, all that is immediately wanted has been already achieved by the splendid survey of Captain Robert FitzRoy’ (DNB, ‘Robert FitzRoy’).
George Rice Trevor, married to FitzRoy’s sister Frances.
Mary Henrietta O’Brien, daughter of a country gentleman and Major General (Mellersh 1968, p. 172).


‘Beagle’ diary: Charles Darwin’s Beagle diary. Edited by Richard Darwin Keynes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1988.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

FitzRoy, Robert. 1836. Sketch of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, 1825–1836. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 6: 311– 42.

Mellersh, Harold Edward Leslie. 1968. FitzRoy of the Beagle. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Sends news of his movements since Beagle put in at Falmouth. His charts are safe and already being engraved.

Announces his engagement.

Letter details

Letter no.
Robert FitzRoy
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
HMS Beagle, Portsmouth
Source of text
DAR 204: 135
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 312,” accessed on 4 August 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1