Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shortland, Peter Frederick

SHORTLAND, PETER FREDERICK (1815–1888), vice-admiral, born in 1815, son of Captain Thomas George Shortland [q. v.], entered the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth in January 1827, and, having passed through the course with distinction, served afloat till 1834, when, on 4 Dec., he passed his examination. In 1836–8 he was a mate of the Rattlesnake in Australian waters, and, on the settlement of Melbourne, made a survey of Port Phillip, which was approved by the governor of the colony. On returning to England in 1838 he obtained leave of absence, matriculated at Cambridge as a member of Pembroke College, and in 1842 graduated as seventh wrangler. He then applied to join the Excellent with the view of competing for the commission at that time offered as a prize to young officers passing through a course of gunnery and mathematics; but as the advent of a seventh wrangler seemed likely to kill all competition, the admiralty promoted him at once, on 1 April 1842. He was then appointed to the Columbia steamer for surveying duties on the coast of North America. As lieutenant, as commander (20 Jan. 1848), and as captain (1 Jan. 1859), he continued on the same station till 1865, making a complete survey of the coast of Nova Scotia, including the Bay of Fundy, on the completion of which he received the special thanks of the admiralty. He was then appointed to the Hydra for surveying service in the Mediterranean, but in 1867 was sent out to the East Indies to take a line of soundings from Aden to Bombay. The Hydra was paid off in 1868, and Shortland, at the request of the admiralty, wrote ‘A Sounding Voyage of H.M.S. Hydra’ (8vo, 1868), a work highly esteemed both in England and the United States. On attaining the age of fifty-five in 1870, he was placed on the retired list. He then qualified as a barrister and was called to the bar, from Lincoln's Inn, on 27 Jan. 1873. He became a rear-admiral on 21 Sept. 1876, and a vice-admiral on 3 Jan. 1881. He died at Plymouth on 18 Oct. 1888. He married in 1848 Emily, daughter of Captain Thomas Jones, 74th regiment, and left issue. He was the author of ‘A Short Account of the Laws which govern H. M. Navy’ (1886), and of ‘Nautical Surveying’ (8vo, 1890), published by his widow and children, much of the matter of which had already appeared in ‘Naval Science,’ 1873–4–5.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; obituary notice in Times, 19 Oct. 1888, which is reprinted in the beginning of the ‘Nautical Surveying;’ Navy Lists.]

J. K. L.