09-Mar-1833: FitzRoy buys a Unicorn!

On 9th March 1833, while in the Falkland Islands, Capt. Robert FitzRoy bought a schooner to accompany HMS Beagle:

Captain FitzRoy’s Journal: 9th March, 1833

At this time I had become more fully convinced than ever that the Beagle could not execute her allotted task before she, and those in her, would be so much in need of repair and rest, that the most interesting part of her voyage—the carrying a chain of meridian distances around the globe—must eventually be sacrificed to the tedious, although not less useful, details of coast surveying…

I had often anxiously longed for a consort, adapted for carrying cargoes, rigged so as to be easily worked with few hands, and able to keep company with the Beagle; but when I saw the Unicorn, and heard how well she had behaved as a sea-boat, my wish to purchase her was unconquerable…

FitzRoy’s decision to buy Unicorn, which he promptly renamed Adventure, was to earn him a sharp, long-distance reprimand from the Admiralty. It seems likely this reprimand was a factor in FitzRoy’s subsequent nervous breakdown later in the voyage.

But FitzRoy’s unapproved purchase of the schooner meant that he was indeed able to achieve far more surveying work during the Beagle voyage.

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *