HMS Beagle (1820)

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HMS Beagle
The Beagle in a watercolor by Owen Stanley (1841)
The Beagle in a watercolor by Owen Stanley (1841)
Ship data
flag United KingdomUnited Kingdom (Naval War Flag) United Kingdom
Ship type Sloop
class Cherokee- class
Shipyard Woolwich Dockyard , London
building-costs 7,803 pounds
Launch May 11, 1820
Whereabouts Sold for demolition in 1870
Ship dimensions and crew
27.43 m ( Lüa )
broad 7.46 m
Draft max. 3.35 m
measurement 235 tons (bm)
crew 60 to 64 men
Rigging and rigging
Rigging Brig
from 1826: Bark
Number of masts 2
as barque: 3

The HMS Beagle was a British 10-gun brig ( ten-gun brig or brig sloop ) of the Cherokee class . The ship was used for survey trips for the Royal Navy , especially on the coasts of South America and Australia . It was best known because Charles Darwin took part in the second Beagle expedition from 1831 to 1836 . For measuring trips was Beagle from 1826 to Bark umgetakelt, but was commonly - z. B. also by Darwin in his travelogue - still referred to as "ten-gun brig".


Keel laying and first years

The Beagle was ordered in 1817 and laid down in Woolwich in June 1818. The ship was launched on May 11, 1820 (it had cost £ 7,803 to build ) and was immediately placed in reserve. In May of that year the Beagle took part in a naval parade on the occasion of the coronation celebrations for George IV and was the first warship to pass under the old London Bridge. Until 1825 the Beagle was again in reserve.

First expedition

Mapping of the Cape Horn region by the two Beagle expeditions (1828–1836)

The ship was converted into a survey ship in 1825. It was, among other things with a small, Poop '(Aft is a deckhouse with skylight) provided, in which cards were drawn, and as Bark umgetakelt because this rigging was easier to handle and with a smaller crew size than the Briggtakelung. In addition, the armament was reduced to six guns. The future mission of the ship was to survey previously poorly mapped coasts.

From 1826 to 1830 the Beagle accompanied a survey trip on the coasts of South America. The expedition was led by Phillip Parker King , who commanded the main ship of the expedition, the Adventure . The Beagle was commanded by Pringle Stokes. After his suicide, Lieutenant Skyring temporarily took command. In December 1828 Robert FitzRoy came on board in Rio de Janeiro and commanded the ship until it returned in 1830.

During the trip were four young Fuegians from the tribe of Yámana kidnapped were later educated in England and received English names (Fueguia Basket, Jemmy Button , Boat Memory and York Minster).

Second expedition

Drawing of the beagle drained for repair by Conrad Martens (1834), engraved by Thomas Landseer (1838)

The following year the Beagle was repaired and rebuilt in England. During this conversion, Commander FitzRoy attached great importance to adapting the ship better to the requirements. The Beagle received new lightning rods on all three masts and on the bowsprit , the deck was raised by a few centimeters in order to enlarge the living areas underneath and to make the ship "drier" with a little more freeboard. In order to reduce the deviation of the compasses, which are important for surveying work, the iron guns, which were problematic in this regard, were replaced by bronze ones, and the Beagle was given a new rudder and a new capstan .

The destination of the expedition led by FitzRoy was Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of South America, to carry out cartographic measurements there, but also to bring three Tierra del Fuego, kidnapped on the Beagle's first voyage, back to their homeland (the fourth, Boat Memory, had suffered from smallpox in the meantime deceased). The coasts of Chile , Peru and some South Sea islands should also be measured.

In 1831 the Beagle under FitzRoy set sail again from Devonport with the destination South America , this time without the Adventure . The commander took Charles Darwin on the voyage as an unpaid naturalist on his own initiative . On this trip Darwin gained the knowledge from which he later developed his theory of evolution .

At the end of 1832, the HMS Beagle stayed in the Tierra del Fuego area , where a missionary station was built for the Reverend Richard Matthews and the three of the surviving Tierra del Fuego , who were educated in England . When the HMS Beagle visited the mission station again a year later, it was deserted and Jemmy Button returned to his people and their culture; Matthews continued on the Beagle again.

In 1836 the Beagle returned to England.

Last years

Longitudinal section and top view of the Beagle , showing the state of construction in 1832. Published 1897.

With the Beagle further survey trips were undertaken in the years 1837 to 1843 under the commanders John Clements Wickham and John Lort Stokes, mainly in Australian waters.

From 1847 the Beagle was anchored to combat smuggling as a watch ship in the middle of the River Roach and in 1850 after complaints from local fishermen on its banks. After 1870 the guard was lifted and the ship was sold for dismantling.

Modern times

In 2005 a structure was found on the banks of the Roach River by ground penetrating radar, which could be the bottom of the Beagle .

The asteroid (656) Beagle , discovered by A. Kopff on January 22, 1908 , the Beagle Channel in the south of Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Crater are named after this ship. The lost Mars probe Beagle 2 , whose mission was to search for traces of life on the red planet, was also named after this ship.

See also


  • Phillip Parker King : Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of HM Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America . Edited by Robert FitzRoy . 3 vols. And 1 vol. "Appendix". Henry Colburn, London 1839.
  • Charles Darwin: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage round the world of HMS "Beagle" under command of Captain Fitz Roy, R. N . Murray, London 1890.
  • Alan Moorehead: Darwin and the Beagle . Penguin Books, London 1969.
  • Karl H. Marquardt: HMS Beagle. Survey ship extraordinary , Conway Maritime Press, London 1997, ISBN 0-85177-703-1 .
  • Keith S. Thomson: HMS Beagle. The story of Darwin's ship , Norton, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-393-03778-9 .
  • David Lyon: Sailing Navy List , Conway Maritime Press, London 1997, ISBN 0-85177-864-X .
  • Charles Darwin: Journey on the Beagle . Travel report in excerpts, audio book, AUDIOBUCH Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-89964-264-3 .

Web links

Commons : HMS Beagle  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Terra X : Darwin's Secret - The Kidnapped Children of the Beagle , Germany 2018 (documentary; 43:32 min).
  2. The representation was based on sketches by PG King, who took part in the surveying trip under FitzRoy as a midshipman; see Marquardt, HMS Beagle , p. 25 ff. Since King made the sketches from memory after more than 60 years, some details are not correctly reproduced. Still, the drawings were of great importance to Marquardt's reconstruction of the Beagle .
  3. The given coordinates come from the Archeology Data Service database of the University of York and have the National Monuments Record ID TQ 99 SW 36 ( online ; English).

Coordinates: 51 ° 35 ′ 42.8 "  N , 0 ° 48 ′ 51.3"  E