Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stokes, John Lort

STOKES, JOHN LORT (1812–1885), admiral, born in 1812, was second son of Henry Stokes of Scotchwell. He entered the navy on 2 Feb. 1826 on board the Beagle, then fitting out under the command of his namesake, Commander Pringle Stokes, for the survey of the southern parts of America, in company with the Adventure, commanded by Captain Philip Parker King [q. v.] On the death of the commander in November 1828, Robert Fitzroy [q. v.] was promoted to the vacancy, and with him young Stokes continued till the return of the Beagle to England in 1830, and again, on the renewed commission of the Beagle, from 1831 to 1836, during which period Charles Darwin was naturalist on board the vessel. On 10 Jan. 1837 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and when in February the Beagle was recommissioned by her former first lieutenant, Commander John Clements Wickham, for the survey of Australia, Stokes was again appointed to her. In March 1841 Wickham was obliged to invalid, and Stokes succeeded to the command, being confirmed in the rank on 16 Aug. following. For the next two years he was principally engaged in the survey of Timor and of New Zealand, and in September 1843 he arrived in England after a service in the Beagle of nearly eighteen years. During the years immediately following he wrote ‘Discoveries in Australia, with an Account of the Coasts and Rivers explored and surveyed during the Voyage of the Beagle, 1837–1843’ (2 vols. 8vo, 1846). On 4 July 1846 he was advanced to post rank, and on 14 Oct. 1847 he was appointed to the Acheron, steam vessel, employed for the next four years on the survey of New Zealand. In the end of 1851 the Acheron was paid off at Sydney, and for a few years Stokes was on half-pay. From 1860 to 1863 he was employed in surveying the coasts of the Channel. He became a rear-admiral on 9 Feb. 1864, vice-admiral on 14 July 1871, admiral on 1 Aug. 1877, and died on 11 June 1885. He was twice married and left issue.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Times, 13 June 1885; Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, new ser. vol. vii.; Fitzroy's Adventure and Beagle; Navy Lists; Pasco's A Roving Commission, 1897, p. 102, with a portrait at p. 124.]

J. K. L.