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Ilfracombe Harbour antique sea chart dated 1839

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Antique sea chart of Ilfracombe Harbour

Lieutenant Henry Mangles M. Denham R.N. (28 August 1800 – 3 July 1887)

Vice Admiral Sir Henry Mangles Denham, CMG was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station.
December 1827 - 'Lieu. H. Denham is appointed to command the Linnet, surveying vessel, at Plymouth, to be employed in surveying the coast of France, near to Guernsey and Jersey.'
Surveyed Liverpool Docks in 1835 .

In 1826, he married Isabella (died 1865), daughter of Rev. Joseph Cole, of Carmarthen.

Denham entered the Navy at the age of 12 and specialised in hydrographic work. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1822. From October 1827, he was Lieutenant commander in HMS Linnet, surveying the coast of France. From September 1828 to March 1835, he surveyed the Bristol Channel, and the ports of Liverpool and Milford. On 28 February 1839 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. From 15 January 1842 he was Commander (second in charge) in HMS Lucifer, commanded by Frederick William Beechey, surveying the coast of Ireland. On 30 July 1845, he was made Commander of HMS Avon, surveying the west coast of Africa.

On 18 February 1852 Denham was made Captain of HMS Herald. As captain of HMS Herald, he carried out major survey work around Australia, New Caledonia and other parts of the Southwest Pacific in the period 1852 to 1861. The voyage of HMS Herald earned him a lasting place in the history of maritime surveying. For a decade, the Herald surveyed and charted known land masses and suspected hazards in the south-west Pacific and substantial parts of the Australian coast, thereby establishing safe routes for shipping. Some of the Herald's charts are still in use. At the time of Denham's voyages, the south-west Pacific was a mission field, a site of commercial activity, and a colonial outpost. The natural history specimens gathered by naturalists William Grant Milne and John MacGillivray on the expedition resulted in significant additions to botanical and ornithological collections. The voyage began in England on 21 February 1852, arriving in Australia on 18 February 1853. The ship then began its survey by visiting Lord Howe Island, the Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) and Aneityum (Vanuatu) (19 February 1853 to 1 January 1854); New Zealand and Raoul Island, (2 January 1854 to 2 September 1854); Fiji, (3 September 1854 to 24 November 1854); and Norfolk Island (June 1855). After a second visit to Fiji, (25 June 1855 to 3 February 1856), the Herald was involved with the resettlement of the Pitcairn Islanders to Norfolk Island, (4 February 1856 to 26 June 1856). A third visit was then undertaken to Fiji, (27 June 1856 to 26 February 1857), followed by the survey of Port Jackson, New South Wales, (27 February 1857 to 20 December 1857); Bass Strait, King George Sound and Shark Bay (21 December 1857 to 29 June 1858). After three visits to the Coral Sea, (30 June 1858 to 23 May 1860), the Herald began the first leg of its homeward voyage, Sydney to Surabaya, (24 May 1860 to 20 November 1860), departing Surabaya on 21 November 1860 and arriving at Chatham on 1 June 1861.

From 10 May 1864 to 21 November 1866, Denham served as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station. In 1866, he was knighted for his hydrographical services and was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. He retired with the rank of Vice Admiral in 1871. The town of Denham, Western Australia named is after him, as is the New Caledonian endemic tree Meryta denhamii. Denham island, British Columbia was named after him by a fellow Royal Navy surveyor.


19th century sea chart of Ilfracombe Harbour by Lieu. H. M. Denham R.N.