Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice
(29 Apr 1816—22 Apr 1893)

My primary source of information about Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice was his great great granddaughter, Frances Brennan. Having combined her information with information found elsewhere, I offer the following genealogical chart as a guide for further research.


Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice was born on 29 Apr 1816 in Kent, Deptford.  He entered the Royal Navy on 12 Jan 1831 at the age of 14 years 8 months. He went to Australia as a mate on H.M.S. Beagle in 183743 on a voyage of survey and exploration. This was the third major voyage of H.M.S. Beagle.

The first voyage (18251830) was for the survey of South America and the Straits of Magellan.

The second voyage (27 Dec 18312 Oct 1836), with Charles Darwin aboard, continued the survey of South America and visited the Galapagos Islands.

The third major voyage (9 Jun 183714 Oct 1843) was for the survey of the coast of Australia and nearby islands.

On the third major voyage of the Beagle, John Clements Wickham was the Commander until 24 Mar 1841 when he was invalided. John Lort Stokes, who had been the Assistant Surveyor, was the Commander for the remainder of the voyage. Not later than May 1841, Stokes appointed Fitzmaurice to the position of Assistant Surveyor.

Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice is best known to his descendants as a naturalist and painter. He brought back the first kangaroo skin to England and helped to set it up for an unidentified museum in London. "Discovery in Australia", a book by Captain John Lort Stokes (1 Aug 1811—1855), has many illustrations by LRF.


 The image above is a copy of the steel engraved frontispiece of the book published by Capt. Stokes.221 The engraved name of the artist seems to be "L. R. Fitzmaurice". The caption is "Messrs. Fitzmaurice & Keys dancing for their lives".

Early in August 1839, Fitzmaurice went with Keys to check the compasses on the beach below some conspicuous red cliffs in the vicinity of present-day Darwin. Everything had seemed peaceful but suddenly they heard loud shouting. On the cliff above them a crowd of aborigines appeared, gesticulating and wildly waving their spears. The were led by a formidable figure---a large square-headed man stamping his feet, rolling his head from side to side, champing his beard and spitting it out again, apparently in violent fury.

Fitzmaurice reacted quickly. The spearmen were above him and he was unarmed. He answered them in their own fashion. Raising his arms, he also began to dance, shouting and leaping wildly. His move paid off. The aborigines poised on the cliff lowered their spears to watch.

Soon Fitzmaurice was joined by Keys, who had been some distance away, and could have escaped along the shore towards a boat approaching from the ship. Instead he ran towards the cliff and partnered Fitzmaurice in a pas de deux. They continued to dance frantically, for the moment they paused to reach for the muskets lying at their feet the fury on the cliffs broke out again. When at last the Beagle's boat heaved into view, the native Australians withdrew.

When Fitzmaurice and Keys were safely back on board the Beagle, the dancers were teased about their seriocomic performance.

Stokes reproached himself for the incident, believing that the Aborigines' attack had been in retaliation for his mistreatment of them several days before. He had invited an old man on board the Beagle to observe his reaction to "the workmanship of his civilized brethren". As the old man and two young companions approached in a canoe, they grew apprehensive and turned for the shore. Hoping to stop them, Stokes chased them in the dinghy. When the dinghy came between the natives and the shore, apparently cutting off their retreat, the young men became angry. It was one of these--"a large square-headed fellow of ferocious aspect, whose continence was lit up by a look of fierce revenge"--who later led the threatened attack on Fitzmaurice. The place was named, "Escape Cliffs".224 A few months later, on 7 Dec 1839, Stokes himself was speared in the left shoulder.224

 There are several geographical features in Australia apparently named after Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice:

1. Lewis River, on the southwest coast of Tasmania, with the river mouth at 42 deg 57 min S, 145 deg 29 min E. Although oral family history says that this river was named after LRF, I note that Seaman Nicholas Lewis was buried at sea (from the Beagle) in Oct 1840.224

2. Roper River, in the Northern Territory. It flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria at 14 deg 43 min S, 135 deg 22 min E.

3. Roper Creek, in north central Queensland at 23 deg 10 min S, 149 deg E. It is part of the watershed on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range. Along with many other creeks and minor rivers, it eventually flows into the Fitzroy River which winds past Rockhampton and empties into the Coral Sea.

4. Fitzmaurice River, in Northern Territory flowing westerly towards Joseph Bonaparte Gulf near Port Keats. It forms the southern boundary of the Daly River Port Keats Aboriginal Reserve. The river was named after L. R. Fitzmaurice who first saw and explored it in Oct 1839.

5. Point Fitzmaurice, on the Gulf (of Carpentaria) side of northern Queensland at 17 deg 11 min S, 140 deg 56 min E. Accident Inlet and Point Fitzmaurice were named by Captain John Lort Stokes to record the location of the accidental shooting of Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice in the area early in Aug 1841. LRF survived and returned to active duty with the Beagle but was lamed for life.224

6. Fitzmaurice Creek, which merges with Crooked Creek about six miles east of Accident Inlet in Queensland.  Latitude: 17 deg 11 min 60 sec S.  Longitude: 141 deg 1 min 60 sec E.

7. Fitzmaurice Bay in Tasmania.  Latitude: 40 deg 4 min 0 sec S.  Longitude: 143 deg 52 min 60 sec E.


When H.M.S. Beagle finally headed for home, Fitzmaurice refused an offer of a position as draughtsman in the Surveyor-General's office in Western Australia, and returned home to service ashore as a lieutenant with a pension of 2s 6d a day.  In 1851, he was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and resided in Pembrey, Carmathenshire.  He retired from the navy with the rank of Captain in 1860 at the age of forty-four.224  In 1891, he and his family resided at Harbour House in Port Talbot, Wales.  He was employed as a harbour master.


Descendents of Louis Roper Fitzmaurice
Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice was married in 1851 in Greenwich, London to
Mary Butler (Dec 182613 Jan 1897) of St. Bride's, Glamorgan, Wales.  They had at least four children:
LRF.1 Blanche Mary Fitzmaurice (Lewis) (Born 1852 in Denmark Hill, London)
In Dec 1872, she was married in Neath, Breconshire, Glamorgan, Wales.
LRF.2 Lewis George Fitzmaurice (b. circa 1855 in Camberwell, Surrey, England) who was an Engineer.  He died before Apr 1938.
He married Annie Louisa Stamatha Mathews on 26 Aug 1891 at St. Paul's Church in Ravenswood, Queensland, Australia.  Annie Louisa was the daughter of James Matthews and Margaret Simpson.
Lewis George and Annie Louisa had at least three children:
  LRF.2.1 Blanche Fitzmaurice (born circa 1892, probably in Australia)
  LRF.2.2 Percy Roper Fitzmaurice (born 4 Jan 1894 in Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia)
  LRF.2.3 Charles Hubert Fitzmaurice (b. 15 Dec 1899 in Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia).  On 4 Apr 1938, he married Florence Ivy Larson at the Presbyterian Church in Innisfail.  They had three children:
    LRF.2.3.1 Alan Fitzmaurice (b. 21 Feb 1939 in Innisfail, Queensland, Australia)

m. Joclyn Crawford (b. 6 Jan 1949 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Alan and Joclyn had four children:

      LRF. Peter Fitzmaurice (b. 13 Oct 1978 in Innisfail, Q, AU)
      LRF. Helen Fitzmaurice (b. 26 Jul 1980 in Innisfail, Q, AU)
      LRF. David Fitzmaurice (b. 11 Mar 1982 in Innisfail, Q, AU)
      LRF. Jennifer Fitzmaurice (b. 6 Sep 1984 in Innisfail, Q, AU)
    LRF.2.3.2 Heather Fitzmaurice (b. 20 Sep 1940 in Innisfail, Q, AU)

m. James Wyatt

Heather and James had five children:

      LRF. Peter Wyatt
      LRF. David Wyatt
      LRF. Lyn Wyatt
      LRF. Andrea Wyatt
      LRF. Greg Wyatt
    LRF.2.3.3 Graham Fitzmaurice (b. 29 Feb 1944 in Innisfail, Q, AU)

m. Jillian Kindt (b. 11 Mar 1946) on 10 Jun 1967 in Bundaberg, Q, AU

Graham and Jillian have three children:

      LRF. Russell Fitzmaurice (b. 9 Jul 1968 in Bundaberg, Q, AU)

m. Toni Rookwood (b. 26 Jun 1969 in Cairns, Q AU) on 10 Sep 1994 in Cairns, Q, AU

They have two children:

        LRF. Zane Fitzmaurice (b. 6 Dec 2000 in Cairns, Q, AU)
        LRF. Kya Fitzmaurice (b. 21 Feb 2003 in Cairns, Q, AU)
      LRF. Michael Fitzmaurice (b. 31 Aug 1970 in Bundaberg, Q, AU)

m. Li Wang (b. in DaLing, China) on 23 Dec 1999 in Davis, CA, USA)

Michael and Li have two children:

        LRF. William Fitzmaurice (b. 13 Apr 2000 in Davis, CA, USA)
        LRF. Angela Fitzmaurice (b. 7 Dec 2003 in Davis, CA, USA)
      LRF. Paul Fitzmaurice (b. 18 Mar 1975 in Bundaberg, Q, AU)
LRF.3 Olivia Fanny Fitzmaurice (Tonge) (Born Nov 1858 in Gwenfain, Llandilotalybont, Wales; died in 1949)

In 1878, Olivia married Dinely Fowler Tonge (d. 1893 in Calcutta).  Dinely was a designer of steam engines and threshing machines. They lived in a cottage in Beaumont Fee until their new home (Caradoc) was completed.  It was built in Greetwell Road, Lincoln, and is still in use241.   Olivia and Dinely had two daughters:

  LRF.3.1 Blanche Tonge.
  LRF.3.2 Ermine Tonge who married and had children and grandchildren (including Frances Brennan).
LRF.4 Charles Herbert Fitzmaurice (born circa 1861)
Buried 16 Mar 1877 at Margam Abbey, Aberavon, Wales in the same grave as his father.


Unidentified Fitzmaurice Ancestor A
Born circa 1763, probably in Denbighshire, Wales
Son of Thomas Petty-FitzMaurice (1742-1793)
Married Louisa Petty-FitzMaurice, daughter of 4th Earl of Kerry.
Ancestor A was a cousin of the 2nd and 3rd Marquis of Lansdowne and a nephew of the 1st Marquis of Lansdowne.
Ancestor A had at least one child (Fitzmaurice Ancestor B).

Fitzmaurice Ancestor B
Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice Sr.
Born 1791 in Ireland.
Died 1849 in Llanelly, Carmathenshire, Glamorgan, Wales.
He was a marine surveyor in the Navy.224
Promoted to Master on 19 Nov 1811.
In 1841, he was a Harbour Master and resided at Newton Nottage, Glamorgan, Wales.

A web site titled Ships of the Old Navy, A History of Sailing Ships of the Royal Navy states that a Lewis FITZMAURICE became master of the HASTY in 1820. On 19 April 1820, the HASTY was a surveying vessel in Deptford. In 1822, the ship was in Milford and, in1824, at Downs.

According to oral family history:

  1. As a midshipman in the Royal Navy, Ancestor B went on a naval expedition to find the source of the Congo River in Africa. After all the officers had died of blackwater fever, he took command and brought the ship home.220  [I have found no confirmation of this story.]
  2. Ancestor B served on HMS Victory (the flagship of Adm. Nelson) at the battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 and was badly wounded. [Although he would have been of about the right age, there is no listing of the name FITZMAURICE or PETTY-FITZMAURICE in the "Trafalgar Roll"222. Further research will be required.]

Another clue to the identity of Ancestor B is a letter written to him by Sir Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer of the Royal Navy. The brief letter reports the discovery of the Fitzmaurice River by LRF. Hordern224 found the letter in the Admiralty Records (196/8/1319), Public Record Office, London. If I ever again visit London, I shall look for a copy.

Ancestor B had at least one child (Lewis Roper Fitzmaurice).

 Olivia Fanny Fitzmaurice (Tonge)
(11 Nov 18581949)

Fanny was born on 11 Nov 1858 in Gwenfain, Llandilotalybont, Wales. She was christened on 15 Dec 1858 in Loughor, Glamorgan, Wales. On her birth certificate, her father's name is spelled "Lewis Rober Fitzmaurice". Although her birth certificate and her baptismal certificate both give her middle name as "Fanny", she is listed in several publications as "Frances". Therefore, both names should be considered when using a search engine.

Like her father (LRF), Fanny was a talented graphic artist. She had 12 drawing lessons in perspective but, to her father's disappointment, could not draw or paint landscapes. He lost interest in her as a painter, not realizing the she was so shortsighted that she could not see the landscape.

In 1878, Olivia married Dinely Fowler Tonge (d. 1893 in Calcutta).  Dinely was a designer of steam engines and threshing machines. They lived in a cottage in Beaumont Fee until their new home (Caradoc) was completed.  It was built in Greetwell Road, Lincoln, and is still in use241.   Olivia and Dinely had two daughters, Blanche and Ermine.  Neither daughter ever married.

Olivia went on painting the things she could see but it was not until after she married (at age 19) that she acquired her first paint box and spectacles. She painted flowers, birds, and reptiles in that era. After her two children arrived, she did almost no painting but had great success with brass repousse work and wood carving. She was also well known as a singer of soprano parts in oratorios.

Fanny was a keen naturalist and a friend of the Rev. J. G. Wood. She wrote articles for his "The Animal World" and for his books, "Petland Re-visited" being one. She loved all the smaller mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects but did not seem interested in larger animals.

Then she began a career as a designer and embroideress and was needlework editress of "Health and Home" for many years. She always made her own designs and her embroidery went all over the world. After her husband died, it became necessary for Fanny to earn the money to bring up her two daughters. There was no more painting until the older daughter began to draw and paint. Their subjects were different, the daughter painting landscapes and portraits while the mother painted flowers, birds, etc.

Quite suddenly almost all embroidery and writing stopped but painting did not really start again until the two trips to India which resulted in sketch books (now at the London Natural History Museum Library). Some items out of them were printed in colour in Christmas numbers of the "Times of India", as were also the daughter's portraits of various Indian "types". After her return from India, Fanny stopped painting. Gardening became her great joy until old age and bad eyesight put an end to that. She died in 1949.


Any viewer who has corrections or more information about any of the people or events mentioned on this web page is requested to send it to Catherine FitzMaurice. I would also like to know the URL of any related Internet site.


Related Hyperlinks
Art and Australia - Kerry Stokes Article
Ships of the Old Navy, A History of Sailing Ships of the Royal Navy
Early Images of the Australian Aborigines : Rare Books Exhibition
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