Article ID: CBB153211519

The Two Faces of Robert Fitzroy, Captain of HMS Beagle and Governor of New Zealand (2013)


Robert FitzRoy, Captain of HMS Beagle and second governor of New Zealand, has two contradictory reputations among modern academics. Evolutionary biologists and Darwin scholars generally view FitzRoy as a supporter of slavery, famously quarrelling with the abolitionist Darwin over that topic during a Brazilian stopover early in the voyage of HMS Beagle. He is also regarded as a political and religious reactionary, taking a biblically creationist position at the infamous 1860 Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. New Zealand historians, however, view his record as governor much more positively. They emphasize that FitzRoy was wildly unpopular with the British settlers because of his enlightened insistence that the native Maori should be treated fairly. We outline the history of these seemingly inconsistent views and examine the evidence for each. We conclude by suggesting that a more nuanced account of FitzRoy's career would surely be more thought-provoking as well as respectful of the facts.

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Authors & Contributors
Moreau, Christian
Dory, Daniel
Martinière, Guy
Dunmore, John
McCrory, Donald
Delmas, Catherine
Science Technology and Society
Archives of Natural History
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Eighteenth-Century Studies
Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Presses Universitaires de Rennes
Lutterworth Press
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
A. Macqueen
River Press
Travel; exploration
Natural history
Science and politics
Scientific expeditions
Humboldt, Alexander von
Orbigny, Alcide d'
Bougainville, Louis Antoine de
D'arcy, Frederick Robert
Wilson, Robert Adams
Natterer, Johann
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
20th century
New Zealand
Auckland Institute and Musem

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