John Washington (Royal Navy officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Washington
Born 1800
Died 16 September 1863(1863-09-16)
Le Havre, France
Buried at Le Havre
Allegiance United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1812 – 1863
Rank Rear-Admiral
Commands held

Napoleonic Wars

War of 1812
Other work Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society
Hydrographer of the Navy

John Washington FRS (1800 – 16 September 1863) was an officer of the Royal Navy, a hydrographer, and founder member of the Geographical Society of London[1][2]

Early career[edit]

He joined the Royal Navy in May 1812 and served aboard HMS Junon with Sir George Cockburn's fleet in Chesapeake Bay, and from October 1813 aboard HMS Sybille, which was sent to cruise off Greenland in 1814. He joined the Royal Naval Academy in November 1814, and graduated in May 1816. He then served for three years aboard HMS Forth on the North American Station, and afterwards aboard HMS Vengeur and HMS Superb on the South American Station. Washington was promoted to lieutenant on 1 January 1821, while based at Valparaiso, and returned to England by travelling across the Andes and the pampas to Buenos Aires.

He was appointed to HMS Parthian in February 1823, serving in the West Indies, after which he spent two years on half-pay. He spent this time travelling in France, Spain, and Italy, and improving his knowledge of the languages of these countries. In May 1827 he was appointed to serve on HMS Weazel in the Mediterranean, and in December was moved to HMS Dartmouth, returning to Britain in early 1828. From 1830 to 1833 he was flag-lieutenant to Sir John Poo Beresford, commander-in-chief at the Nore, and on 14 August 1833 Washington was promoted to the rank of commander.


Washington was one of the original members of the Royal Geographical Society and served as its secretary from 1836 to 1841. He was appointed to command HMS Shearwater in March 1841, and carried out surveying work on the east coast of England. In January 1842 he was temporarily lent to the yacht HMS Black Eagle, which was appointed to bring Frederick William IV of Prussia to England. Washington was made captain on 16 March 1842. In January 1843 he was moved to HMS Blazer, in which he continued the survey of the east coast until 1847. In January 1845 he was also appointed a commissioner for inquiring into the state of the rivers, shores, and harbours of the United Kingdom, and in February was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Afterwards he was employed in the railway and harbour department of the admiralty; and in 1853, having to visit Denmark, Sweden, and Russia to settle some matters as to an establishment of lifeboats, he was directed by Sir James Graham, then First Lord of the Admiralty, to collect what information he could as to the state of the Russian Baltic Fleet and the defences of Kronstadt, Reval, and Sveaborg. Washington carried this out, and was able to see a division of the Russian fleet at sea and observe its manœuvres. During these years he had been acting as assistant to Sir Francis Beaufort, the Hydrographer of the Navy; and on Beaufort's resignation in 1855, Washington was appointed as his successor. This office he held until his death, being promoted to the rank of rear-admiral on 12 April 1862.

Washington was returning to Britain after a visit to Switzerland, when he died at Le Havre on 16 September 1863, and was buried there.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dawson. L.S.,(1885), Memoirs of Hydrography, Vol.2 pp.94 et seq.
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required) (pre-1900 DNB version on Wikisource at s:Washington, John (DNB00) )