Page 813
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

Origins of Australian Meteorology



The Origins of Australian Meteorology
FitzRoy and Maury
Thomas Brisbane
Phillip Parker King
Charles Todd
Ellery and Neumayer
Henry Chamberlain Russell
Clement Wragge
The International Scene
The End of the Beginning

Appendix 1: Chronological Chart of Early Meteorologists



Contact us

FitzRoy and Maury (continued)

But now FitzRoy, at the age of 55, was being assailed by his own Fellows in the Royal Society with criticism that the 'art' of weather forecasting was unscientific. It is interesting to observe that even today some 'atmospheric scientists' shun association with 'meteorologists' who are so bold as to provide the forecasts and warnings so vitally needed by the community.

FitzRoy had not waited for many years, as had his friend Charles Darwin, to sift carefully through all the scientific evidence before producing a theory which would stand the test of time. He felt impelled by the loss of life in storms, particularly those at sea, to make every effort to warn of these conditions.

The Times, which had been kind to him, began to grow increasingly critical. A leading article in April 1862 stated that 'last week Nature seems to have taken special pleasure in confounding the conjectures of science'. And FitzRoy's friend Maury also appeared to turn against him, being not wholly enthusiastic about forecasting.

On 13 April 1865, feeling that the world was against him, FitzRoy went to his dressing room, took his razor and cut his throat. Let all those who venture into the realms of weather forecasting arm themselves well against the slings and arrows of the armchair scientists and the news media!

Another contributory cause to FitzRoy's suicide was the public controversy that raged at that time between Wilberforce and Darwin regarding Darwin's theory on the origin of species, which many regarded as sacrilege. FitzRoy, a very religious man, felt some guilt that he had been associated with the development of Darwin's theories in those far off days in the voyage of the Beagle.

People in Bright Sparcs - FitzRoy, Robert; Maury, Matthew Fontaine

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

Gibbs, W. J. 1998 'The Origins of Australian Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 12 June 1998, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher