Henry Mangles Denham

Vice Admiral Sir Henry Mangles Denham (28 August 1800 – 3 July 1887) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station.

Sir Henry Denham
Portrait of Captain Sir Henry Mangles Denham by Charles Baugniet, 1849.jpg
Henry Mangles Denham (1849)
by Charles Baugniet
Born28 August 1800 (1800-08-28)
Died3 July 1887 (1887-07-04) (aged 86)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service1812–1871
RankVice Admiral
Commands heldHMS Avon
HMS Herald
Pacific Station
AwardsCompanion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Map of the Shark Bay area of Western Australia, surveyed by Denham
Meryta denhamii, a New Caledonian tree named in Denham's honour

Early careerEdit

Denham entered the navy at the age of 12 and specialised in hydrographic work. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1822.[1] From October 1827, he was lieutenant-commander in HMS Linnet, surveying the coast of France.[1] From September 1828 to March 1835, he surveyed the Bristol Channel, and the ports of Liverpool and Milford.[1] On 28 February 1839 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.[1] From 15 January 1842 he was commander (second in charge) in HMS Lucifer, commanded by Frederick William Beechey, surveying the coast of Ireland.[1] On 30 July 1845, he was made commander of HMS Avon, surveying the west coast of Africa.[1]

Survey of the South Pacific, 1852-1861Edit

On 18 February 1852 Denham was made captain of HMS Herald.[2] 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.[1]

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.

Commander-in-chief, PacificEdit

From 10 May 1864 to 21 November 1866, Denham served as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station.[1] In 1866, he was knighted for his hydrographical services. He retired with the rank of vice admiral in 1871.[1]

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.


In 1826, he married Isabella (died 1865), daughter of Rev. Joseph Cole, of Carmarthen.[1] A son Fleetwood James Denham served under his father on Herald, and died of a tropical fever on Raoul Island, in New Zealand's Kermadec Islands chain, aged 16 years in 1854. He was buried near the beach at the head of Denham Bay.

See alsoEdit

  • O'Byrne, William Richard (1849). A Naval Biographical Dictionary . John Murray – via Wikisource.
  • John MacGillivray
  • William Grant Milne
  • European and American voyages of scientific exploration


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j William Loney RN
  2. ^ The 500-ton Herald was launched as Termagant on 15 November 1822, recommissioned as the survey ship Herald in 1824, and taken out of service in 1864.


  • David, A. (1995). The voyage of HMS Herald to Australia and the South-west Pacific 1852-1861 under the command of Captain Henry Mangles Denham. Miegunyah Press Series. Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.
  • Oliver, R., 'The Vegetation of the Kermadec Islands'. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Volume 42, 1909, p. 121. URL: RSNZ, accessed 3 January 2007.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Kingcome
Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station
Succeeded by
George Hastings