|Alexander Burns Usborne.
Born 16th December 1808;
Baptised in Kendal, Cumbria 15th January 1809. Died in 1885.
Alexander joined the navy at 16 as a second class volunteer. He rose through the ranks from Surveyor to Master of HMS Beagle retiring as a Captain in 1867. He was a "slight figure", popular with his ship-mates, who called him "Jimmy". Charles Darwin had a high opinion of him. Their friendship continued for some years after their joint voyage of 1831-34. He visited Darwin later at Down House.
In 1839 he was invalided home from Australia, following a horrendous shooting accident in which a musket ball passed right through his body. The following bear his name: Mount Usborne in West Falklands; Usborne Island, Point Usborne and Port Usborne in King's Sound Western Australia; Usborne passage through a reef in Fiji. His home was at Whitestock Villa, Turnchapel, near Plymouth in Devon on the banks of the river Catwater, where local records describe him as "gentry".
|His formal career reads:
"Alexander joined the navy in 1825 as a second-class volunteer on the Thetis until March 1831, latterly as a masters assistant. After being attached to the Revenge for a few months, he was, in July 1831, appointed to the the Beagle as "Master's assistant" with the rank of mid-shipman under Captain Fitzroy. In May 1833, he was made an Assistant-Surveyor, the Beagle being employed on the east and west coasts of South America, and amongst the Falkland Islands. Midshipman Usborne (with Charles Forsyth) left the Beagle in September 1834 to continue surveying from Paposo to Guayaquil, along the coast of Peru in a schooner called "Constitution". From February 1837 to May 1839, he was employed on the coast of Australia as a Lieutenant under Commander Wickham in the same vessel. In 1839 he was invalided home following an accident when he was shot through the body by a musket ball, while engaged on surveying duty in charge of two boats in Roebuck Bay, Western Australia. In consequence he joined the Hydrographic Office from November 1840 to December 1841, and then transferred to the east coast of Ireland, as an assistant surveyor in the Comet under Captain G.A.Frazer. On leaving, that officer certified that: "During the time that I have been in the Navy, I have never met a more correct and zealous officer than Mr Usborne and am happy to have the opportunity of bearing testimony to his merits not only as a seaman but also as a surveyor". From April 1845 to March 1847, Mr. Usborne was employed on a survey of the west coast of Ireland as Master of the Cyclops, under Commander G.A.Bedford and under Commander Beechey, from 1847 to 1855. He was then transferred to the survey of the south coast of Devonshire under Captain Stokes and Commander Cox from January 1855 to March 1863 and then to the southern Islands of the Hebrides under Captain Otter. In June 1863, he was promoted to Staff-Commander and in 1864 succeeded to the command of H.M.S. Bann, a paddle surveying vessel, on the retirement of Captain Williams. In the Bann he was engaged in obtaining the deep soundings off the coast of Cornwall, necessary to complete the charts of the west coast of England. He retired with the rank of Captain in September 1867".
The Nautical Magazine of 1840/1 contains Alexander's account of some Beagle exploration headed "A survey of the coast of Australia by a naval officer".
Usborne Passage is a
navigable route through the Great Astrolabe Reef, Fiji.