23 September 2004
Robert FitzRoy (1805-1865)
Autograph letter signed to John Lort Stokes, Bath, 7 July 1847, 9½ pages, 4to, integral address leaf (seal tear and short tears to folds of address leaf, splits to horizontal folds on remaining leaves).
FitzRoy writes to his successor as captain of the Beagle to congratulate him on his appointment as surveyor of New Zealand: 'Probably the New Zealand Company now in the ascendant -- and Lord Grey their patron -- have been urging the Admiralty to add increased éclat to their colonising operations ... you know as well as anyone how valuable a good survey of those islands would be -- and I know well how much it is required', continuing with an affectionate suggestion that Stokes should accept. 'I am writing to you my dear Stokes -- as a bald headed old man -- not as the once enthusiastic and extravagant Commander of the Beagle'; FitzRoy adds that he himself is now seeking a more active role, and comments on Grey's likely reaction, that 'he will be so disappointed and thwarted by late arrangements ... that he will retire with flying colours'.
FitzRoy's service as governor of New Zealand, 1843-1845, was dominated by the land purchase question, in which he was considered to favour the Maori interests too much, and by disputes over his financial policy, which aroused the opposition of the New Zealand Company. Stokes did accept the post of surveyor of New Zealand, and spent the years 1847-1851 engaged in this task, on board the steam vessel Acheron.
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