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Robert Fitzroy


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#1 Sedgley Warrior

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Posted 09 July 2005 - 08:42 PM

Today on Excess Baggage, Radio 4, was an unexpected programme about Robert FitzRoy (1805-1865) - one of Upper Norwood's famous residents and inventor of the shipping forecast. He lived at number 100 and something Church Road where there is a blue plaque. He also sailed with Darwin amongst other things. You can listen to the programme again here. It was recorded at the church on Church Road…

#2 Sylvester

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 04:03 PM

I heard this too and it was very interesting - I had no idea he was so distinguished and possibly our most famous resident (long-term; can't count Zola or Pissaro). His grave is in All Saints Church where I believe a service was recently held commemorating the 200 years since his death. He lived I believe at no. 140 Church Road and actually committed suicide in that house. The present owner was interviewed and alluded to a possible ghostly sighting by a young neighbour some years ago...
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#3 James

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 12:43 PM

It was at Lyndhurst House at 140 Church Road.

There is an article from 1969 that I have just added to the Norwood Society's web site here...
http://www.norwoodso...thebeagle.shtml

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#4 ChewderOde

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 10:12 AM

His grave is just inside and to the left of the graveyard entrance of All Saints Church by the (heading towards croydon) 468 bus stop

#5 twinkle

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 08:16 AM

I used to be in Fitzroy House in school at Westwood Girls. We had to do a whole presentation on our house name - now I cant remember most of it but i know it was very interesting... I can remember where the grave is though in all saints... its the ones with railings surrounding it on the Beaulah Hill side of the church.
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#6 guineagirl

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 08:55 PM

For anyone interested in Fitzroy and Darwin, the novel by Harry Thompson about their lives, 'This Thing of Darkness' is fantastic - and having read the book fairly recently, I felt a real pang of sadness when I saw the blue plaque on Church Road and realised it must have been the house where he died - he was really down on his uppers by then, with his work on the shipping forecast not being taken seriously, and his long estrangement from Darwin, as he disagreed fundamentally with the theory of natural selection.

On a more positive note, the shipping forecast region Finisterre was renamed 'Fitzroy', so it's nice to know he has been commemorated in a way that he'd hopefully approve of, besides being remembered locally with the blue plaque of course! I wonder if there is a statue or bust of him anywhere in London?

#7 ChewderOde

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 10:14 AM

I noticed today that poor old Robert Fitzroy (he of the Darwinian Beagle voyages and significant early meteorologist fame) has had his headstone (All Saints Church) used as a advertising hoarding, with a big "polling station" sign wrapped around it.

#8 Local

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 12:40 PM

You must have seen it while Sailing By

#9 Joe

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 11:49 PM

it seems odd that FitzRoy, whose address is given as Onslow Square, Kensington, up to the date of his death, should have rented accommodation so far out of town, and lived in such reduced style.

I feel akward for posting this BUT !

The area was especially well known in times past for "maison secondaire" to house the mistress. Was this perhaps the reason ?

#10 guineagirl

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 08:55 PM

I think the reason he ended up living in 'reduced style' were for the very reason that phrase suggests - he'd come down a long way in the world following his early success, and had poured a lot of his own money into developing the shipping forecast.

It was a very sad end to his life but I'm glad he's remembered alongside Darwin, both as the captain of the Beagle and for his own achievements.

#11 Ziwa

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Posted 10 June 2009 - 02:23 PM

Just a pedantic tweak to Sedgley Warrior's comment 'He also sailed with Darwin amongst other things.', I'd suggest that this should more properly be 'Darwin sailed with Fitzroy'. Fitzroy was the captain of the Beagle, and young Charlie D was invited along as a 'gentleman's companion'. Fitzroy wouldn't have been in a social position to interact much with the rest of his crew except as a boss, so it was common to invite another person of 'good social standing' who had interesting things to say to provide company for the captain. Fitzroy probably needed it, being of an intense, analytical and intellectual nature. It must have been quite a let down to find he disagreed so vehemently with Darwin, who would certainly have been no slouch for company.

#12 andreas

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 07:45 AM

Interesting thread. The comments about living in reduced style need to be put into perspective. Church Road in the mid-19th century was one of the most desirable locations in London. Really.
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#13 Ziwa

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:06 PM

But Church Road certainly never was an Onslow Square! I work near there, and its like another country. George Soros' house is on that square. To say the housing stock is grand is an understatement...
(but of course I live in Crystal Palace out of choice and perhaps so did Fitzroy)

#14 Mrs Oswald

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 06:35 AM

But Church Road certainly never was an Onslow Square! I work near there, and its like another country. George Soros' house is on that square. To say the housing stock is grand is an understatement...
(but of course I live in Crystal Palace out of choice and perhaps so did Fitzroy)



I have been told that Robert Fitzroy does not appear at the Upper Norwood address on any census or directory. Presuumably he had just rented the house for a short period, perhaps for the summer.

#15 Rimshot

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 07:29 PM

I posted this about him in my series of blogs entitled Neighbourhood Trails/Robert FitzRoy on my web page.


Now this same Robert FitzRoy (5 July 1805 – 30 April 1865) achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin's famous voyage, and as a pioneering meteorologist who made accurate weather forecasting a reality. He was an able surveyor and hydrographer and served as Governor of New Zealand from 1843 to 1845.

On doing some research for this blog, I see that “Admiral” Robert Fitzroy was buried in All Saints Church. This is a very large Church and is situated at the top of the road a few hundred yards up, the next left hand turning to be exact to where I live; literally 5 minutes walking distance from my house. Another way of putting this is, if I had continued walking to the top of Church Street, I would have reached All Saints.

On the headstone of his grave are biographical details, plus those of his wife and three quotations from the Bible, but no mention of the fact that he was Captain of the brigantine “The Beagle” during its voyage round the South American coast and the Galapagos Islands with Charles Darwin who became the ship’s naturalist which resulted in the publication of “The Origin of the Species. Incidentaly, did you know that there are three volumes to this work?. The first two were written by Fitzroy and it is only the third volume that is credited to Darwin!. Neither is there mention that he (Fitzroy), was Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand, a post important enough, to be proud of , but why omitted from his gravestone?.

At the foot of the grave is another stone recording that he was first Head of the Meteorological Office and devised the system of weather forecasts and storm warning which were the prototypes of the present day systems. He also published his “Weather Book” and the barometer he invented is also shown on the stone. Obviously, both he and his family were proud of all of these achievements to have them commemorated but why have some been omitted from local knowledge?.

He retired in 1863, having been promoted by reason of seniority to vice-admiral. However on 30th April 1865 he died as a result of suicide, using a razor. (He had been a manic-depressive, suffering all his life from bouts of melancholia and given to outbursts of ferocious temper). His wife writes at the time of his death, that he got out of bed one morning and went to his washroom. That was when he committed suicide.

Having died and previously having exhausting his entire fortune (£6,000, the equivalent of some £400,000 today) on public expenditure, when this came to light, in order to prevent his wife and daughter living in destitution, his friend and colleague Bartholomew Sullivan began an Admiral FitzRoy Testimonial Fund which succeeded in getting the government to pay back £3,000 of this sum . Darwin contributed a further £100. Queen Victoria gave the special favour of allowing his widow and daughter the use of an apartment at Hampton Court Palace, until her death. (not clear whose death, the wife or the Queen). Also what ever happened to the daughter?. He is recorded on his grave as “hydrographer and meteorologist”. Over the years the tomb had become dilapidated but in June 1997 it was restored and a Service of Commemoration was held at All Saints Church, paying tribute to Fitzroy’s achievements. Also mentioned on the grave is; In loving memory of his wife and then further on down, his daughter.

In contrast, the plaque that is placed on his Church Street home, unlike his tombstone, records that he was “Explorer and pioneer of weather forecasting. Captain of H.M.S. Beagle that took Darwin to the Galapagos Islands”.
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