J. Lort Stokes

J. Lort Stokes books and biography

John Lort Stokes

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Admiral John Lort Stokes, RN (1812 - June 11, 1885) was an officer in the Royal Navy who travelled on the HMS Beagle for close to eighteen years.

Stokes grew up in Scotchwell near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. He joined the Navy on September 20, 1824. The first ship he served on was the HMS Prince Regent, then in October 1825 he joined the crew of the Beagle under Captain Philip Parker King. The Beagle was involved in a survey of the waters of South America. In 1828 the commander of the HMS Beagle, Pringle Stokes (not related to John Lort Stokes), died and Robert FitzRoy assumed command; the ship returned to England in 1830 and was recommissioned. From 1831 to 1836 Stokes served onboard with Charles Darwin.

Following the second voyage of the Beagle Stokes was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and served under Commander John Clements Wickham for a survey of Australasian waters. When Wickham was invalided in 1841, Stokes took command of the ship. While Stokes was in command the Beagle surveyed Timor and New Zealand, returning to England in 1843. When he returned he wrote Discoveries in Australia, with an account of the coasts and rivers explored and surveyed during the voyage of the Beagle, 1837–1843; it was published in 1846.

In July 1846 Stokes was promoted to captain and commanded the steam ship Acheron surveying New Zealand for four years. From 1860 to 1863 he commanded a ship surveying the coasts of the English Channel. He retired in 1863, was promoted to the rank of rear admiral in 1863, vice-admiral in 1871 and admiral in 1877. He died at his home in Scotchwell.


  • Laughton, J. K. Stokes, John Lort (1812-1885), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

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Discoveries In Australia, Volume 1

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