Hurd, Thomas (DNB00)

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HURD, THOMAS (1757?–1823), captain in the navy and hydrographer, after serving on the Newfoundland and North American stations, was promoted by Lord Howe on 30 Jan. 1777 to be lieutenant of the Unicorn frigate, which, under the command of Captain Ford, cruised with remarkable success against the enemy's privateers and merchant ships, and on her return to England was one of the small squadron engaged under Sir James Wallace [q.v.] in the capture of the Danaë and destruction of two other French frigates in Concale Bay on 13 May 1779. In the action off Dominica, on 12 April 1782, Hurd was a lieutenant of the Hercules, from which he was moved into the Ardent, one of the prizes, for the voyage to England [see Graves, Thomas, Lord]. During the peace he was again employed on the West India station, and carried out the first exact survey of Bermuda. In August 1795 he was promoted to the rank of commander, and to that of captain on 29 April 1802. He was engaged in 1804 in the survey of Brest and the neighbouring coast, the results of which were published in a chart and sailing directions. In May 1808 he was appointed to the post of hydrographer to the admiralty, in succession to Alexander Dalrymple [q. v.] He held the office for fifteen years. During this time the construction of charts was carried on without intermission, and he was able to organise a regular system of surveys under his control and direction. He afterwards persuaded the admiralty to make the charts prepared in the hydrographic office accessible to the public, and thus available for the ships of the mercantile marine. At the time of his death, on April 1823, he was also superintendent of chronometers and a commissioner for the discovery of longitude.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. iv. (vol. ii. pt. ii.) 556; Dawson's Memoirs of Hydrography, i. 45; Gent. Mag. 1823, vol. xciii. pt. i. p. 475.]

J. K. L.