This Day In History: 1805-06-05


Robert FitzRoy (1805 – 1865) was born on this day.
He was a British naval officer and scientist, best known as captain of HMS Beagle during Darwin’s famous voyage and as a pioneer of meteorology. Darwin’s appointment as naturalist was as a result of FitzRoy’s desire to have a gentleman companion for the voyage to share his scientific tastes, dine with him as an equal, and provide a semblance of normal human friendship; in later life FitzRoy, owing to his belief in God, was dismayed by his part in the development of Darwin’s work on evolution.
FitzRoy established a method of accurate daily weather predictions, for which he coined the name “forecasts”, establishing what would later be called the Met Office (1854), as a means to get weather information to sailors and fishermen for their safety.

FitzRoy is honoured in the name of a subspecies of dolphin collected by Darwin during their voyage, Lagenorhynchus obscurus fitzroyi (Waterhouse, 1838).