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Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857), Rear-Admiral and hydrographer

Sitter in 6 portraits
Sir Francis Beaufort was the creator of the Beaufort scale for indicating wind force. Beginning at fourteen on a merchant ship of the British East India Company, Beaufort rose, during the Napoleonic Wars, through the ranks to become a Captain in the Royal Navy. He spent his leisure time taking soundings and bearings, making astronomical observations to determine longitude and latitude, and measuring shorelines. In 1829, at the age of fifty-five, Beaufort became the Hydrographer of the British Admiralty, a post he held for twenty-five years, transforming it from a minor chart repository into the finest surveying institution in the world. Some of his charts are still used, two hundred years after he created them.

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Sir Francis Beaufort

by William Brockedon
black and red chalk, 1838
NPG 2515(90)


Sir Francis Beaufort

by Stephen Pearce
oil on millboard, 1850
NPG 918


Sir Francis Beaufort

by James Scott, after Stephen Pearce
mezzotint, published 1857
NPG D31582


The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin

by James Scott, after Stephen Pearce
mezzotint, published 1853
NPG D9472