Fairfax Moresby

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Sir Fairfax Moresby
Sir Fairfax Moresby.jpg
Moresby as Admiral of the Fleet, 1870
Born 1786
Calcutta, India
Died 21 January 1877
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held Pacific Station
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Fairfax Moresby GCB (1786 – 21 January 1877), born in Calcutta, India, to English parents was a British naval officer.

Early life[edit]

Moresby was the eldest son of Fairfax Moresby, Lieut. Colonel of the 2nd Staffordshire Militia and Colonel Commandant of the Lichfield Volunteer Yeomanry, who had been posted to India where he married Mary Rotton (1767–1830) of Duffield, Derbyshire in October 1784. [1] His younger brother Robert Moresby was also a distinguished maritime surveyor and captain of the British Royal Navy, who surveyed the Red Sea and the complex Indian Ocean atoll groups of the Maldive and Chagos Archipelagos.

Naval career[edit]

Sir Fairfax Moresby entered the Navy as an Able Seaman in 1799. He became a midshipman on the Amazon in 1803, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1806 and commander in 1811. In 1811, he was sent to the Aegean Sea to defend the population of Malta from pirates; the grateful people presented him with a sword.[2] [3]

In 1815, Moresby was appointed a Commander of the Bath (CB). He was senior officer at Mauritius in 1821, with orders to suppress the slave trade, and concluded the Moresby Treaty with Seyyid Said, the imam of Muscat in September 1822 restricting the scope of local slave trading and conferring on English warships the right of searching and seizing local vessels.[2] [4]

Promoted rear admiral in 1849, he was commander-in-chief of the Pacific Station 1850 to 1853,[2] based at Valparaiso, Chile, with the flagship HMS Portland. He took an interest in Pitcairn Island at this time and planned the emigration of the islanders to Norfolk Island which took place in 1856.

He was promoted vice-admiral in that year and promoted admiral in 1862. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Bath (GCB) in 1865 and admiral of the Fleet in 1870. [2]

Moresby died on 25 January 1877 in the district of St. Thomas, Devon, England.[1]


Moresby's coat of arms

He married Eliza Louisa, daughter of John Williams of Bakewell, Derbyshire, at Malta in 1814. They had two daughters and three sons.[2]


In Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby and Fairfax Harbour on which it stands are named after him, as are Moresby Island and Moresby Island (Gulf Islands) in British Columbia, Canada.


  1. ^ a b Lambert 2004.
  2. ^ a b c d e Laughton 1894.
  3. ^ Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby's presentation sword in the National Maritime Museum
  4. ^ Nicolini, B., & Watson, P. (2004). ‘’Makran, Oman, and Zanzibar: Three-terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western Indian Ocean’’, 1799-1856. Leiden: Brill Academic Pub.


Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Phipps Hornby
Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station
Succeeded by
David Price
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Phipps Hornby
Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Sir Provo Wallis
Preceded by
Sir George Sartorius
Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Sir Provo Wallis