Thomas Hurd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Thomas Hannaford Hurd
Born bapt. 30 January 1747
Died 29 April 1823
Allegiance United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1768 – 1823
Rank Captain

Captain Thomas Hannaford Hurd (bapt. 30 January 1747 – 29 April 1823) was an officer of the Royal Navy, who rose to the rank of captain, becoming the second Admiralty hydrographer, a Superintendent of Chronometers and a Commissioner for the discovery of longitude. Hurd Peninsula is named after him due to his role in the discovery of Antarctica.[1]


Hurd joined the navy on 1 September 1768, serving as an able seaman aboard HMS Cornwall, which was then under the command of Captain Molyneux Shuldham. He served on the Newfoundland and North American stations between 1771 and 1774, part of the time aboard the armed vessel HMS Canceaux, under Lieutenant Henry Mowat. While with Canceaux Hurd helped Samuel Holland to make hydrographic surveys. Hurd passed his lieutenant's examination on 1 March 1775, and went on to serve aboard Lord Howe's flagship, HMS Eagle. Howe appointed Hurd as lieutenant of HMS Unicorn on 30 January 1777. Unicorn was a frigate, under the command of Captain John Ford, which had a coppered hull. Being free of barnacles she was able to capture a great deal of enemy shipping and Hurd as Lieutenant gathered a large amount of prize money.[2] After Unicorn's return to England she was one of the small squadron engaged under Captain Sir James Wallace in setting fire to three enemy ships and taking the French ship Danae, a brig and a sloop as a prizes in a minor battle on 13 May 1779 off the French coast at Cancale.[1]

In the Battle of the Saintes off Dominica, on 12 April 1782, Hurd was 2nd lieutenant of the Hercules, from which he was moved into HMS Ardent. The Ardent had been recaptured from the French and was one of the prizes. Hurd had the honour of helping her sail her back to England under her commander, Richard Lucas.[1] The battle was a victory for Admiral Sir George Rodney and Great Britain. Following this Hurd suffered on the ill-fated return journey from Jamaica (with Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves), where there were large losses due to a hurricane.[2] Howe recommended Hurd for the post of surveyor-general of Cape Breton, to which he was appointed in 1785, but was dismissed the following year by lieutenant-governor Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres.

Hurd was sent to carry out the first exact survey of Bermuda in 1789, a task which took him nine years. On 18 August 1795 he was promoted to the rank of commander, serving as captain of Bermuda and briefly Spencer, before returning to Bermuda.

He received promotion to post captain on 29 April 1802. In 1804 he conducted a survey of the harbour of Brest and its surrounding coast.[2] In May 1808, following the death of Alexander Dalrymple, Hurd was the second person to be appointed hydrographer to the admiralty. In the following 15 years, Hurd organised a regular system of surveys and the improved productivity was marked.[3] He is also credited with making sure that his maps, that had been funded by the military, were made available for civilian use by the merchant navy. The Hurd Peninsula is on the south coast of Livingston Island, in the South Shetland Islands. It was named by the UK Antarctic Place-Names Committee in 1961 for Thomas Hurd, RN. Hurd was chosen as it was under his authority that Antarctica was discovered.[2][4]

When Hurd died on 29 April 1823, he was a superintendent of chronometers and a commissioner for the discovery of longitude.[1] Hurd was survived by his wife and he left plantations in both America and the West Indies.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d  "Hurd, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ a b c d Marshall, John (1825). Royal naval biography : or Memoirs of the services of all the flag-officers, superannuated rear-admirals, retired-captains, post-captains and commanders, whose names appeared on the Admiralty list of sea officers. II. W. Pople, Printer. Retrieved January 2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ a b Andrew C. F. David, ‘Hurd, Thomas Hannaford (bap. 1747, d. 1823)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 22 January 2010
  4. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Thomas Hurd" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).