23 September 2004
[John Lort Stokes (1812-1885)]
Autograph letter signed by W. Walker of Hydrographic Office, 18 September 1840, addressed to Stokes on board the Beagle, 3 pages, 4to, integral address leaf (short tear to fold on last leaf; seal tear not affecting text).
Walker thanks Stokes for a report on the Adelaide and Victoria Rivers, which promises 'important results in inducing settlers to that part of Australia'; and the letter refers to a shoulder wound Stokes received from an Aboriginal attack during the surveying of Point Pearce in October 1839. The Hydrographic Office is continuing its slow work on publishing charts and plans of South America and the Falkland Islands made under the command of Captain FitzRoy -- a rate of progress which has incurred his displeasure, about which Walker is sanguine: 'take it all together I think he has not much to be disatisfied [sic] with, he is a very good fellow and I regret when any thing here displeases him'.
John Lort Stokes spent virtually the first twenty years of his naval service on board the Beagle, including service under FitzRoy and alongside Darwin; he succeeded to command of the vessel in March 1841 during its survey of the coasts of Australia, and Stokes was responsible for naming the Victoria, Flinders and Albert Rivers, and Port Darwin. In 1846, he published his Discoveries in Australia, with an Account of the Coasts and Rivers explored and surveyed during the Voyage of the Beagle 1837-1843.
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