Alexander Dalrymple
Alexander Dalrymple was a Scottish
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

 and the first Hydrographer
Hydrographer of the Navy
Hydrographer of the Navy is a Royal Naval appointment. From 1795 until 2001 the post was responsible for the production of charts for the Royal Navy, and around this post grew the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office...

 of the British Admiralty. He was the main proponent of the theory that there existed a vast undiscovered continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

 in the South Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, Terra Australis Incognita. He produced thousands of nautical charts mapping a remarkable number of seas and oceans for the first time and contributing significantly to the safety of shipping. His theories prompted a number of expeditions in search of this mythical land, until James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

's second journey (1772–1775) led to the conclusion that, if it did exist, it was more southernly than the 65° line of latitude South.

Dalrymple was born at New Hailes, near Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, the seventh of sixteen children of Sir James Dalrymple and his wife the daughter of the Earl of Haddington
Earl of Haddington
Earl of Haddington is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1627 for the noted Scottish lawyer and judge Thomas Hamilton, 1st Earl of Melrose. He was Lord President of the Court of Session from 1616 to 1625...

. He went to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1752 and was appointed a writer in the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

, being first posted to Madras. While with the EIC he became interested in the possibilities of trade with the East Indies and China and subsequently negotiated a treaty with the sultan of Sulu and visited Canton at the age of only 22. In 1765 he returned to London where was elected a fellow of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

. There he became acquainted with John Smeaton
John Smeaton
John Smeaton, FRS, was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist...

, who during the course of his studies on windmills had devised a descriptive scale for grading wind speed. This scale was included in the paper for which he was awarded the Copley Medal
Copley Medal
The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences"...

. In Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry author Scott Huler relates that Dalrymple's voyages had convinced him that a standard scale for measuring the speed of wind at sea would be of great value to sailors, and that he had included Smeaton's scale in his work Practical Navigation, which was written around 1790 but never published. It is believed that Dalrymple conveyed this information to Francis Beaufort
Francis Beaufort
Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, FRS, FRGS was an Irish hydrographer and officer in Britain's Royal Navy...

 who later refined the wind scale that bears his name and that is still in use today.

Whilst translating some Spanish documents captured in the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 in 1752 Dalrymple had found Luis Váez de Torres testimony proving a passage south of New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 now known as Torres Strait
Torres Strait
The Torres Strait is a body of water which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is approximately wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland...

. This discovery led Dalrymple to publish the Historical Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean in 1770-1771 which aroused widespread interest in his claim of the existence of an unknown continent. This led Captain Cook to undertake another voyage into the South Pacific. He was bitterly disappointed that it was Captain Cook and not he who was appointed commander of the expedition which eventually led in 1770 to the British discovery and charting of the Eastern coastline of Australia.

In 1782 he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...


See also

  • Royal Society
    Royal Society
    The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

     -- Dalrymple was elected to membership in the Society in 1771; and his nomination letter has been posted with other membership records at the Royal Society web site -- here. Those signing that nomination letter were: Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

    , Richard Hazard
    Richard Hazard
    Richard Hazard was an American television composer, orchestrator, conductor and writer. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and died in Los Angeles, California, of cancer...

    , John Colebrooke, John Pringle
    John Pringle
    Sir John Pringle, 1st Baronet, FRS was a Scottish physician who has been called the "father of military medicine" ....

    , Daniel Wray
    Daniel Wray
    -Life:Born on 28 November 1701 in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, he was the youngest child of Sir Daniel Wray , a London citizen and soap-boiler residing in Little Britain, by his second wife. His father was knighted on 24 March 1708, while high sheriff of Essex, where he possessed an...

    , Charles Morton
    Charles Morton
    Charles Morton , was an American actor.-Career:Born in Illinois, Charles Morton spent his adolescence in Madison, Wisconsin; receiving his education at Madison High School and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.He made his first stage appearance at the age of seven and later appeared in vaudeville,...

    , James Burrow
    James Burrow
    Sir James Burrow, FRS, FSA , was a Legal Reporter at Inner Temple, London, and was Vice President and twice briefly President of the Royal Society. He was knighted in 1773....

    , William Hunter
    William Hunter (anatomist)
    William Hunter FRS was a Scottish anatomist and physician. He was a leading teacher of anatomy, and the outstanding obstetrician of his day...

    , Nevil Maskelyne
    Nevil Maskelyne
    The Reverend Dr Nevil Maskelyne FRS was the fifth English Astronomer Royal. He held the office from 1765 to 1811.-Biography:...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.