Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Inventory of the Francis Beaufort (Sir) Papers, circa 1750-1900
Consult repository  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (95.37 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Subject matter
  • Significant persons represented and number of letters by each
  • Some interesting or important items
  • Other Relevant Material
  • Material Cataloged Separatedly

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Francis Beaufort (Sir) Papers,
    Date (inclusive): circa 1750-1900
    Creator: Beaufort, Francis, Sir, 1774-1857
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Abstract: The Beaufort Collection contains two groups of manuscripts related to him only indirectly. The first consists of travel diaries and correspondence of his daughter Emily Anne, who under her title by marriage of Viscountess Strangford, was very active as a traveller, writer and humanitarian until her death in 1887. The second group contains papers of the Larpent family, mainly consisting of the diplomatic correspondence of John James Larpent, 7th Baron de Hochepied, during his tenure as British consul in Antwerp, circa. 1825-1837.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Purchased from Francis N. Beaufort-Palmer in 1968, 1971, 1973 (three lots)


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Francis Beaufort (Sir) Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) was the son of Daniel Augustus Beaufort, rector of Collon, co. Louth, Ireland, and Mary Waller Beaufort. His grandfather, Daniel Cornelius de Beaufort, had been a Huguenot refugee from France who established a ministry in London, and his family's consciousness of its religious heritage was very strong.
    He was first sent to sea in 1789 on the Vansittart, commanded by Lestock Wilson, to whose family he became very close, and whose daughter, Alicia Magdalena, became his first wife in 1813. Subsequently, he entered the British navy, and from 1790-1800 served successively on the Latona, the Aquilon, and the Phaeton; the latter's commander (Sir) Robert Stopford became a close professional acquaintance. During these years his closest confidant was his older brother, William Lewis Beaufort, who took orders and served under Thomas St. Lawrence, Dean of Cork (marrying the Dean's daughter in 1805).
    Active in the sea war against France, in particular Cornwallis's retreat (1795), Beaufort became Lieutenant in 1796, and, following a near-fatal wounding in a battle with the Spanish, November, 1800, he was promoted Commander. He was not given a command, however, and, invalided home, he lived with his family. He became close to Richard Lovell Edge-worth, inventor and landowner, father of the novelist Maria Edgeworth, and husband (after 1798) of Francis's beloved sister, Frances (Fanny). Beaufort and Edgeworth worked on projects including the Dublin-Galway semaphore telegraph (1803-04), until 1805, when he was named commander of the storeship H.M.S. Woolwich. Only in 1809, after much frustrations over his eventless command (although in 1807 he did his first major hydrographical work, surveying the Rio de la Plata), did he get an active command, that of the H.M.S. Blossom. Soon after his return on the Blossom from a mission to Quebec, in 1810, Beaufort was given post rank, and assigned command of the frigate, H.M.S. Frederiksteen. From his base on Malta, during 1810-1812 Beaufort conducted surveys geographical and hydrographical of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly Karamania (the south Turkish coast). He was again grievously wounded in June, 1812, and returned home, marrying Alicia, living quietly, and writing his widely acclaimed book Karamania, or a Brief Description of the South Coast of Asia Minor... (1817), based on his survey. His researches and book earned him membership in the Royal Society, in which he was active throughout his life, and access to the scientific circles of England, which included such luminaries as Sir Humphry Davy. He was much involved in plans for the establishment of mining and other industries in Ireland, and with his father's revisions of his map of Ireland and financial troubles, until Daniel's death in 1821.
    In 1829, after years of petitioning for reactivation in the Navy, Beaufort was named Hydrographer to the Navy. Until his retirement in 1854, this position was his constant concern. He expanded its staff and physical facilities, established surveys over the entire globe, and served on many naval commissions. Deeply affected by his wife's tragic death in 1834, he found support in closeness to his children: Daniel Augustus, Francis Lestock, William Morris, Emily Anne Sophia, and Rosalind Elizabeth. In 1839 he remarried, his new wife being Honora, daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth. In 1846 he was named Rear Admiral (ret.), and knighted in 1848. His retirement was accompanied by unfortunate and painful quarrels over the amount of his annuity.
    Sir Francis had spent his early married life at Lestock Wilson's house at Epping, Surrey. As hydrographer, he lived on Manchester St., London; he passed his last days at Brighton. At his death on December 17, 1857, he was survived by all six of his children.

    Subject matter

    • A. British Naval History, late 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular the period of the Napoleonic Wars
    • B. Geography and hydrography, particularly of the Eastern Mediterranean
    • C. Irish affairs, late 18th, early 19th centuries, particularly economic and commercial
    • D. Description and travel: Ireland, England, Near East (Turkey, Palestine, Egypt)
    • E. Maria Edgeworth and the Edgeworth family circle at Edgeworthstown, Ireland
    • F. The Royal Society and scientific affairs in England, early 19th century
    • G. Diplomatic relations between England and Belgium, particularly at time of the French revolution of 1830 [Larpent papers]

    Significant persons represented and number of letters by each

    Sir Thomas Dyke Acland,
    2 letter(s)
    Thomas Arnold,
    7 letter(s)
    Sir Joseph Banks,
    3 letter(s)
    Sir John Barrow,
    9 letter(s)
    Alicia Magdalena Beaufort,
    17 letter(s)
    Daniel Augustus Beaufort,
    37 letter(s)
    Sir Francis Beaufort,
    854 letter(s)
    William Lewis Beaufort,
    21 letter(s)
    William Bligh,
    1 letter(s)
    John Brinkley,
    14 letter(s)
    Robert Cadell,
    3 letter(s)
    Stratford Canning,
    7 letter(s)
    Charles Robert Cockerell,
    4 letter(s)
    Cuthbert Collingwood,
    2 letter(s)
    John Wilson Croker,
    12 letter(s)
    Sir Roger Curtis,
    2 letter(s)
    Alexander Dalrymple,
    16 letter(s)
    Sir Humphrey Davy,
    1 letter(s)
    Frances Anne Beaufort Edgeworth,
    3 letter(s)
    Maria Edgeworth,
    6 letter(s)
    Richard Lovell Edgeworth,
    7 letter(s)
    Sir John Franklin,
    2 letter(s)
    James Gambier, Baron Gambier,
    1 letter(s)
    Davies Gilbert,
    5 letter(s)
    Basil Hall,
    10 letter(s)
    Sir Charles Hamilton,
    4 letter(s)
    Sir William Rowan Hamilton,
    1 letter(s)
    Sir John Frederick William Herschel,
    1 letter(s)
    Sir James Hillyar,
    3 letter(s)
    John Jervis, Earl of St. Vincent,
    1 letter(s)
    Alicia Le Fanu,
    1 letter(s)
    Edward Hawke Locker,
    2 letter(s)
    Sir Thomas Erskine May,
    2 letter(s)
    Sir Peter Melville Melville,
    12 letter(s)
    Sir James Nicoll Morris,
    2 letter(s)
    Sir Roderick Impey Murchison,
    1 letter(s)
    Horatio Nelson,
    1 letter(s)
    Sir William Edward Parry,
    2 letter(s)
    Sir Edward Pellew,
    7 letter(s)
    Lady Jane Spencer-Wilson Perceval,
    2 letter(s)
    Sir Henry Prescott,
    2 letter(s)
    James Rennell,
    29 letter(s)
    George Cecil Renouard,
    4 letter(s)
    Elisabeth-Paul-Edouard, Chevalier de Rossel,
    3 letter(s)
    Sir James South,
    4 letter(s)
    Thomas Spring-Rice,
    1 letter(s)
    Leslie Stephen,
    1 letter(s)
    Sir Robert Stopford,
    4 letter(s)
    Henry Ussher,
    1 letter(s)
    Victoria, Queen of Great Britain,
    2 letter(s)
    Robert Walpole,
    7 letter(s)
    Sir John Borlase Warren,
    2 letter(s)
    John Washington,
    4 letter(s)
    William Wellesley-Pole, 1st Baron Maryborough,
    2 letter(s)
    Joseph Blanco White,
    1 letter(s)
    Lestock Wilson,
    12 letter(s)
    Alexander I, King of Bulgaria,
    1 letter(s)
    Frederick Temple Blackwood, 1st Marquis of Dufferin,
    6 letter(s)
    Mary Anne Evans Cross [George Eliot],
    2 letter(s)
    Edward Lear,
    1 letter(s)
    Harriet Martineau,
    1 letter(s)
    Sir Stafford Northcote,
    1 letter(s)
    William Henry Smith,
    2 letter(s)
    Emily Anne Beaufort Smythe, Viscountess Strangford,
    3 letter(s)
    Percy Ellen Frederick Smythe, Viscount Strangford,
    2 letter(s)
    John James Larpent, 7th Baron Hochepied,
    52 letter(s)
    Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston,
    3 letter(s)

    Some interesting or important items

    • Smythe, Emily Anne (Beaufort), Viscountess Strangford. Journal of Life and Travels in Bulgaria during the Turko-Bulgarian war, and her efforts in establishing military hospitals. 1876, Oct. 14 - 1877, Mar. 10.
    • Edgeworth, Frances Anne Beaufort. Volume of botanical watercolor paintings. 1799-1805.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Journals of Naval Service. 1791-1796 (with gaps).
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Journal of surveying voyage aboard H.M.S. Fredericksteen in Mediterranean, the basis for his Karamania, 1811-1812.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Professional diaries as Hydrographer to the Navy. 1840-57.
    • James, Clarissa de Hochepied Larpent, and de Hochepied Larpent, Baroness Georgiana Frances. Diaries of the Larpent family. 1853-76.
    • Correspondence between John James Larpent and the British Foreign Office respecting political turmoil in the Low Countries. 1830-31.
    • Lear, Edward. Letter discussing his literary activities, Italy, etc. 1886, June.
    • Martineau, Harriet. Letter containing long discussion and analysis of Maria Edgeworth and her edition of Richard Lovell Edgeworth's autobiography. 1867, June 9.
    • Ticknor, Anna Eliot. Letter discussing her life with George Ticknor. 1871. Apr. 28.
    • Beaufort, Emily Anne and Beaufort, Rosalind Elizabeth. Manuscript entitled Anecdotes of Captain Beaufort, R.N., compiled by his daughters. 1840-42.
    • Joseph I Hapsburg, Holy Roman Emperor. Grant of Nobility to Francis de Beaufort, Sir Francis's ancestor. 1710, Mar. 4.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Notes and Working Papers for Karamania. 1813-1817.
    • Ussher, Henry. Letter discussing astronomical research. 1789, Nov. 6.
    • Parry, Sir William. Letter from Davis Strait describing problems of mensuration in polar regions. 1824, July 1.
    • Hillyar, Mary Taylor. Letter describing last days of Sir James Hillyar. 1843, Oct. 29.
    • Lennon, Maria. Series of letters chronicling her dramatic rescue by Sir Francis Beaufort and her loyalty to his memory decades afterwards. 1809-1843.
    • Melville, Sir Peter Melville. Series of letters describing his travels from India to Egypt, Turkey, Vienna. 1832, Jan. 5-Aug. 23.
    • Edgeworth, Maria. Series of letters to Sir Francis Beaufort discussing literary matters, and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 1814-1827.
    • Franklin, Sir John. Two letters from northern Canada describing his explorations. 1825, Apr. 21; 1826, Feb. 6
    • Hall, Basil. Series of letters to Sir Francis Beaufort describing efforts to salvage the Royal George using a diving bell. 1839, Sep.-Oct.
    • Herschel, Sir John Frederick William. Letter discussing his career, his election as president of the Royal Society, and issues facing the Society. 1830, Nov. 26.
    • Dalrymple, Alexander. Series of letters concerning activities of the Hydrographical office, etc. 1805-1808.
    • Blennerhasset, Jeanne. Series of letters giving fascinating insight into the early life of Daniel Augustus Beaufort. 1764-1775.
    • Brinkley, John. Letters describing astronomical research 1824-1829.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letters to Maria Edgeworth. 1825-1833.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letters to Richard Lovell Edgeworth detailing the construction of the Dublin-Galway telegraph. 1803.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Richard Lovell Edgeworth discussing various projects for navigation mensuration.. 1808, May 5.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Frances and Maria Edgeworth discussing details of the publication of Maria's novel Ormond. 1817, June 12.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter describing a visit with Sir Walter Scott. 1821, Apr. 23
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Henrietta Beaufort in the form of a journal of voyage to Cape of Good Hope. 1806, May 16-22.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Henrietta Beaufort describing Quebec and French Canada. 1809, Oct.-Nov.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Henrietta Beaufort describing the intellectual community in Paris (Laplace, Cuvier, etc.). 1825, Nov. 4.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Henrietta Beaufort describing his ceremony of knighthood. 1848, May 7.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Frances Anne Beaufort Edgeworth a) describing in detail the critical response to Maria Edgeworth's Patronage; b) explaining a naval cause celebre in which he opposed the Admiralty by asserting that an escaped slave that had served 2 years on his ship was by definition enfranchised. 1814, Feb. 3.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to William Morris Beaufort; Sir Francis's last known extant letter. 1857, Dec. 3.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter describing Malta. 1808, Oct. 21.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Eyewitness description of the Coronation of William IV. 1831, Sep. 9.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Louisa Catherine Beaufort describing attempts to locate Sir John Franklin by balloon. 1850, Jan. 9.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Beaufort's first extant letter in the collection, addressed to Mary Waller Beaufort at the beginning of his first voyage on his first ship. 1789, Mar. 23.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter to Daniel Augustus Beaufort commenting at length on the death of Lord Nelson. 1805, Nov. 9.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. First letter he wrote after the Battle of San Joseph in which he was critically wounded; describes battle. 1800, Oct. 28.
    • Beaufort, Sir Francis. Letter-journal of his first sea-voyage, to Indonesia. 1789, July 24.
    • Allott, Anna Maria. Memoirs of Edward Gibbon's residence in Switzerland. c. 1794.

    Other Relevant Material

    Other Material Relevant to Sir Francis Beaufort to be Circulated to Readers from the Information File
    David, Andrew C. F. A Description of the Surveys of Sir Francis Beaufort Held in the Archives of the Hydrographic Department, Ministry of Defence, Taunton Somerset, England. 1977 (19 pages)
    Ellison, C. C. Remembering Dr. Beaufort. Published in the Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society. Jan.-Mar. 1975 (36 pages)
    Waller, M. W. B. Craig. The History of Some of Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort's Possessions, A Note by Commander M. W. B. Craig Waller, D.S.C., R.N. 1976. (6 pages)
    Waller, M. W. B. Craig. Some Notes on De Hochpied and Larpent. Also notes from a letter re the spelling of Emily Anne (Beaufort) Smythe, Viscountess Strangford. 1976 (3 pages)
    Friendly, Alfred. Solution to Sir Francis Beaufort's cipher. 1974 (1 page)

    Material Cataloged Separatedly

    Identifier/Call Number: (HM 31201, Vols. 1-17)
    diaries of Larpent's mother, Anna Margaretta (Porter) Larpent (1787-1830)
    Collection of plays which belonged to his father, John Larpent, official examiner of plays in London.