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A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Beaufort, Francis

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BEAUFORT, F.R.S., F.G.S., F.R.A.S., &c. (Rear-Admiral, 1846. f-p., 19; h-p., 41.)

Francis Beaufort is son of the late Rev. Daniel Augustus Beaufort, D.D., Rector of Navan, co. Meath, and Vicar of Collon, co. Louth, a divine of great learning and piety, author of one of our best maps of Ireland, and of a valuable memoir on the Topographical, and Civil and Ecclesiastical State of that country. Capt. Beaufort’s sister, Frances Anne, was the fourth wife of the late Rich. Lovell Edgeworth, Esq., of Edgeworth’s Town, co. Longford, the celebrated writer on education and inventions, father, by a former marriage, of Miss Maria Edgeworth, the distinguished novelist.

This officer entered the Navy, 21 June, 1787, as a Volunteer, on board the Colossus 74, Capt. Hugh Cloberry Christian, stationed in the Channel, where he became Midshipman, in June 1790, of the Latona 38, Capt. Albemarle Bertie. He next served for three years in the Aquilon 32, Capt. Hon. Robt. Stopford, one of Lord Howe’s repeaters in the action of 1 June, 1794; and while attached to the Phaeton 38, commanded in succession by the latter officer and Capt. Jas. Nicoll Morris, was present in Comwallis’s celebrated retreat, 17 June, 1795 – assisted, in the course of the same year, in driving on shore on Isle de Ré, and destroying, L’Echoué, of 28 guns – took part in the capture, 10 March, l796, of La Bonne Citoyenne, of 20 guns – fought in a partial action, 23 March, 1798, with the French 36-gun frigate La Charente – was instrumental, 8 Sept. following, to the capture of La Flore 36 – and witnessed the taking, on various occasions, of nine privateers and other armed vessels. On 28 Oct. 1800, Lieut. Beaufort, who had been promoted to that rank 10 May, 1796, and was now First of the Phaeton, performed an exploit of great spirit and gallantry, in boarding, with the barge and two cutters under his orders, and capturing, after an obstinate resistance, the Spanish polacre-rigged ship San Josef, carrying 14 brass guns, 34 seamen, and 22 soldiers, moored under the protection of 5 guns on the fortress of Fuengirola, near Malaga, and flanked by a French privateer.[1] For his zeal, judgment, and determined bravery in this very dashing affair, in which the enemy had 19 men wounded, and the British 1 man killed and 4 wounded, Lieut. Beaufort, who, forming one of the latter, had received a wound in the head and several slugs through his left arm and body, was, on 13 of the following month, deservedly rewarded with a Commander’s commission; but for his severe sufferings was only awarded a pension of 45l. 12s. 6d. From Nov. 1803, until June, 1804, we find him gratuitously devoting his time to the formation of a line of telegraphs from Dublin to Galway. On 5 June, 1805, he obtained command of the Woolwich 44, armée en flûte, in which ship he first proceeded to the East Indies – then to the Rio de la Plata, of which he made a very accurate survey during the campaign of 1807 – and afterwards to the Cape of Good Hope and the Mediterranean. His next appointments were – 23 May, 1809, to the Blossom sloop, employed on the coast of Spain, at Quebec, and in convoying [errata 1] various fleets of merchantmen; and, 30 May, 1810, on promotion to Post rank, to the Frederickstein frigate. Capt. Beaufort did not, however, join the latter ship until 12 Dec. following, being in the interval employed in protecting the outward-bound trade to Portugal, Cadiz, and Gibraltar, in accompanying two Spanish line-of-battle ships from the latter place to Minorca, and in discharging the duties, from 27 Sept. to 21 Oct., of Acting-Capt. of the Ville de Paris 110. During the two following years he was actively engaged in a survey of the coast of Karamania, in Asia Minor, an employment he was obliged to relinquish, in consequence of a desperate and nearly fatal gunshot wound he received from the hands of a fanatical Turk, 20 June, 1812. Capt. Beaufort, who had previously contributed to the extirpation of a band of pirates from the southern part of the Morea, then returned home with convoy, and on 29 Oct. in the same year was paid off. His acceptance of Flag-rank took place 1 Oct. 1846. For several years after his arrival in England Rear-Admiral Beaufort appears to have been fully occupied in laying down the result of his labours, and in constructing, imder the orders of the Lords of the Admiralty, a variety of charts, of which we may enumerate, one of the Archipelago, three of the Black Sea, &c., including the coast of Asia, and seven of Karamania. He became Hydrographer of the Admiralty in July, 1832; was nominated, in April, 1835, a commissioner for inquiring into the laws, &c., under which pilots were appointed, governed, and paid; and again, in Jan. 1845, for inquiring into the state of the Harbours, Shores, and Rivers of the United Kingdom. The Rear-Admiral, who was elected a F.R.S. 30 June, 1814, is also a Fellow of the Geological and Astronomical Societies, and a Corresponding Member of the Institute of France. His pension, on 2 Dec. 1815, was increased to 250l. He married, first, 3 Dec. 1812, Alicia Magdalena, eldest daughter of Lestock Wilson, Esq.,. of Harley Street, London, by whom he had several children, one of whom is in the Bengal Civil Service; and, secondly, 8 Nov. 1838, Honora, daughter, by a third marriage, of his brother-in-law, the late R. L. Edgeworth, Esq. Agents – Messrs. Ommanney.



  1. Original: annoying was amended to convoying : detail

  1. Vide Gaz. 1800, p. 1280.