Irby, Charles Leonard (DNB00)

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IRBY, CHARLES LEONARD (1789–1845), captain in the navy and traveller, born 9 Oct. 1789, was sixth son of Frederick Irby, second lord Boston, and brother of Rear-admiral Frederick Paul Irby [q. v.] He entered the navy in 1801, and after serving in the North Sea and Mediterranean, at the Cape of Good Hope, the reduction of Monte Video, and in the Bay of Biscay, was promoted to be lieutenant on 13 Oct. 1808. He afterwards served at the reduction of Mauritius, and on the coast of North America; and on 7 June 1814 was promoted to the command of the Thames, in which he took part in the unfortunate expedition against New Orleans. Ill-health compelled him to resign the command in May 1815; and in the summer of 1816 he left England in company with an old friend and messmate, Captain James Mangles [q. v.], with the intention of making a tour on the continent. The journey was extended far beyond their original design. They visited Egypt, and, going up the Nile, in the company of Giovanni Baptista Belzoni [q. v.] and Henry William Beechey [q. v.], explored the temple at Abu-Simbel (Ipsamboul); afterwards, they went across the desert and along the coast, with divergence to Balbec and the Cedars, and reached Aleppo, where they met William John Bankes [q. v.] and Thomas Legh, who with themselves were the earliest of modern explorers of Syria. Thence they travelled to Palmyra, Damascus, down the valley of the Jordan, and so to Jerusalem. They afterwards passed round the Dead Sea, and through the Holy Land. At Acre they embarked in a Venetian brig for Constantinople; but being both dangerously ill of dysentery, they were landed at Cyprus for medical assistance. In the middle of December 1818 they shipped on board a vessel bound for Marseilles, which they reached after a boisterous passage of seventy-six days. Their letters during their journeyings were afterwards collected, and privately printed in 1823 under the title of 'Travels in Egypt and Nubia, Syria and Asia Minor, during the years 1817-16.' In 1844 they were published as a volume of Murray's 'Colonial and Home Library.'

In August 1826 Irby was appointed to command the Pelican sloop, fitting out for the Mediterranean, where she was actively employed in the suppression of piracy in the Levant and on the coast of Greece. On 2 July 1827 he was posted to the Ariadne, but was not relieved from the command of the Pelican till the end of September; and after the battle of Navarino he was appointed by Sir Edward Codrington to bring home the Genoa [see Bathurst, Walter], which he paid off at Plymouth in January 1828. He had no further service, and died on 3 Dec. 1845. He married, in February 1825, Frances, a sister of his friend Captain Mangles, and left issue.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog, x, (vol. iii, pt. ii.); O'Byrne's Naval Biographical Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1845. xxv. new ser, 636, Travels in Egypt, etc. (as in text); Foster's Peerage.]

J. K. L.