Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy RN was an English officer of the Royal Navy and a scientist. He achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin's famous voyage, FitzRoy's second expedition to Tierra del Fuego and the Southern Cone.
FitzRoy was a pioneering meteorologist who made accurate daily weather predictions, which he called by a new name of his own invention: "forecasts". In 1854 he established what would later be called the Met Office, and created systems to get weather information to sailors and fishermen for their safety. He was an able surveyor and hydrographer. As Governor of New Zealand, serving from 1843 to 1845, he tried to protect the Maori from illegal land sales claimed by British settlers.
He continued to be esteemed and became the Governor of New Zealand. After his return to Britain, in September 1848, he was made superintendent of the Royal Naval Dockyards at Woolwich. In March 1849 he was given his final sea command, the screw frigate HMS Arrogant.
In 1850, FitzRoy retired from active service, partly due to ill health. The following year, in 1851, he was elected to the Royal Society with the support of 13 fellows, including Charles Darwin.
FitzRoy funded most of his research and was not able to secure reimbursement from the government.
Dealing with frequest episodes of depression and expecting to soon be destitute, FitzRoy died by suicide on April 30, 1865. He was fifty nine years old.
Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy RN
July 5, 1805 – April 30, 1865