Bartholomew Sulivan

Admiral Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, KCB (18 November 1810 – 1 January 1890)[1] was a British naval officer and hydrographer. He was a leading advocate of the value of nautical surveying in relation to naval operations.

Bartholomew Sulivan
B Sulivan.jpg
Birth nameBartholomew James Sulivan
Born(1810-11-18)November 18, 1810
Mylor, Cornwall, England
DiedJanuary 1, 1890(1890-01-01) (aged 79)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Battles/warsCrimean War

Sulivan was born at Mylor, Cornwall, near Falmouth,[2] the son of Rear Admiral Thomas Ball Sulivan.[3]

His early career included service under Robert FitzRoy on the second voyage of HMS Beagle from 1831–36 with Charles Darwin, during which Bartolomé Island in the Galapagos Islands was named after him. From 1842 to 1846 he commanded HMS Philomel on the South American Station and surveyed the Falkland Islands.[3]

He was the commander of the combined Anglo-French fleet at the Battle of Vuelta de Obligado which took place on 20 November 1845.[4]

During the Crimean War he was sent by Sir Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer of the Navy, to the Baltic to assist the fleet commanded by Sir Charles Napier. Sulivan, commanding the paddle steamer HMS Lightning, made many invaluable surveys and charts of the shallow waters in which the fleet had to operate, and led the bombardment ships into position during the capture of Bomarsund. From 1856 to 1865 he was the naval professional member of the Board of Trade. He was promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1870, and Admiral in 1877.[3][5] After Robert FitzRoy committed suicide in 1865, leaving his wife and daughter destitute, Sulivan convinced the British government to provide them with £3000, to which Charles Darwin contributed another £100 of his own money.[3]

He was created a CB in July 1855, and a KCB in the June 1869 Birthday Honours.[3]

The Falkland Islands issued a set of stamps in 1985 for "Early Cartographers maps", the ship Philomel is featured on the fourth in set, 54p stamp along with a portrait of Admiral Sir B. J. Sulivan K.C.B.[6]


  1. ^ Desmond, Ray (2002). Dictionary of British And Irish Botantists And Horticulturalists Including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. CRC Press. p. 2883. ISBN 9781466573871. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  2. ^ 1871 England Census
  3. ^ a b c d e J. K. Laughton, 'Sulivan, Sir Bartholomew James (1810–1890)’, rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 18 Jan 2009
  4. ^ Sulivan, Henry Norton (1896). The Life and Letters of Admiral Sir B.J. Sulivan K.C.B. John Murray. pp. 52–70. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  5. ^ "No. 8047". The Edinburgh Gazette. 5 April 1870. p. 399.
  6. ^ "Early Cartographers maps". ShipStamps. Retrieved 4 August 2018.

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