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John Augustus Lloyd

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John Augustus Lloyd (1800-1854)


1855 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN AUGUSTUS LLOYD, born in London, on the 1st of May, 1800, was the youngest Son of Mr. John Lloyd, who descended from an old Welsh family, and had settled at Lynn, in Norfolk.

Young Lloyd received the rudiments of his education at the school kept by the Rev. Dr. Chapman, at Tooting, whence he was removed to a school at Winchester, where his attention was directed to those branches of natural philosophy, chemistry, &C., which he subsequently cultivated and employed so usefully.

His great anxiety was to enter the army, and whilst waiting for a commission, he visited Derbyshire, where he amused himself by making a survey of part of the Wirksworth mines. Some impediments to the fulfilment of his military aspirations having occurred, he was sent out to the West Indies to his elder Brother (now the Attorney-General at Dominica), and who then filled the post of King’s Counsel at Tortola. This afforded him an opportunity of acquiring the Spanish and French languages, and he occupied his leisure in visiting and surveying parts of the neighbouring islands.

Public attention was at that time generally directed to the career of General Bolivar, and from his friend and patron, General Maxwell, Mr. Lloyd obtained permission to visit Venezuela, where, through the influence of Sir Robert Ker Porter, he was kindly received, and introduced to the notice of the Liberator-President, into whose service he was taken as an Officer of Engineers, and continued for some years to follow his fortunes, eventually rising high in his favour. He also became intimate with the celebrated General Paez.

After much persuasion, he succeeded in obtaining, from General Bolivar, the permission to attempt the survey of the Isthmus of Panama, and in 1827-28, being furnished with scientific instruments from the Observatory at Bogota, he was associated with Captain Falmarc, then temporarily commanding the corps in the Isthmus, in the task of reconnoitring the district, making themselves minutely acquainted with the various routes of communication between the two seas, and of preparing plans and estimates for a ship-canal, or other available means of facilitating the traversing of the Isthmus. Instructions were given for their being assisted with the means of transport, vessels, guides, workmen, and everything that should be necessary, and they were forbidden from 'stating anything that had not been seen and inspected with their own eyes.'

Notwithstanding the orders from Bolivar, and the kind assistance of Mr. M‘Gregor, Her Majesty’s Consul at Panama, the authorities received the travellers with jealousy, and withheld any ready aid; the assistants proved to be ignorant, cowardly, and deficient in zeal and enterprise, and before Falmarc and Lloyd arrived at Carthagena they had been abandoned by almost all their retinue, the only useful person still adhering to them being their faithful Orinoko Indian servant, 'Gamboa.'

Considering these circumstances, and that the operations of levelling, &c., were carried on partially through dense forests, and whilst exposed as a target for the carbines of ‘Cisneros’ and his brigand-band, subjected to privations of all kinds, and under the influence of an enervating climate, it is not astonishing that mathematical accuracy was not obtained, yet the labours of Falmarc and Lloyd certainly had great influence in the ultimate construction of the railway across the Isthmus by the Americans, and the chart of Navy Bay, on the Atlantic side, is still the best authority extant. The results of their labours were brought to England by Mr. Lloyd, and communicated to the Royal and the Geographical Societies, in whose Transactions they appeared.

Some time after Mr. Lloyd’s return he was employed by the Admiralty, at the suggestion of the Royal Society, to conduct the operations for ascertaining the difference, if any, between the level of the waters at certain points on the River Thames and the mean level of the sea, near Sheerness. This work was highly approved, and no doubt influenced the appointment of Surveyor-General and Civil Engineer, at the Mauritius, being offered to him.

In 1831 he entered upon his duties at that colony, and whilst there his time was actively and usefully employed upon a number of works, including a Breakwater in the inner Harbour, the Government house, Barracks, the Lazaretto and Quarantine-station, Government Store-houses and Powder-Magazine, the Custom-house, several timber, stone, and Iron Bridges, the Observatory, the Penitentiary and Prisons ; the reconstruction of the Royal College and Museum, and the Palais de Justice several district Churches, the City Hospital, and Insane Asylum ; a patent Slip for vessels of 600 tons burthen, several hundred miles of Nacadamized road, and a trigonometrical survey of the Mauritius and the neighbouring islands.

He had an insatiable thirst for enterprise and exploration, and never allowed himself to be deterred by reputed difficulties: in this spirit he planned an expedition, in which he successfully ascended the 'Peter-Botte' mountain, hitherto considered inaccessible, and of which the summit had not been previously reached.

The astronomical observations emanating from the Observatory at the Mauritius were communicated by Mr. Lloyd to the Royal and the Astronomical Societies, and received the high approval of Sir John Herschel, with whom he was in correspondence.

After a residence of nearly twenty years in the Mauritius, he obtained leave of absence, and visited Ceylon ; then took the overland route homewards, but diverging from the ordinary track, he travelled far into Norway, and penetrating into Pomerania, reached Cracow, where his progress was arrested by the Russian authorities : after some detention he was suffered to depart, and passing near the Gallician territory and the Carpathian mountains, he reached Vienna, whence, by the Tyrol and France, he came to England, having throughout the entire journey, examined carefully all the Observatories and Astronomical stations within reach, and accumulated a large store of information on almost all subjects.

During the preliminary arrangements for the Great Exhibition of 1851, Mr. Lloyd obtained from Earl Granville the appointment as Special Commissioner, to co-operate with Dr. Lyon Playfair, in procuring from the Metropolis and from the manufacturing districts specimens of their products ; in this duty, as subsequently, in the superintendence of a division of the Exhibition, and in collating the Catalogue, he was indefatigable, and he entertained a hope that his services would have been recognized by a home appointment, at the termination of his duties at the Exhibition ; such was not, however, the case, and, after many unsuccessful appeals, he received the appointment of Her Majesty’s Charge d’Affaires, in Bolivia, where, during a comparatively short stay, he was actively employed and sent home some valuable information to the Foreign Office, among which were Reports on the Mines of Copiapo, dated from Arica, June 2nd, 1852, and on those of Cerro de Pasco, dated from Lima, July 23rd, 1853, containing very curious details relative to copper and silver mining in South America.

The state of his health obliged his return to England, on leave of absence, and on the breaking out of the war with Russia, it was suggested to him, from the Institution of Civil Engineers, that he would perform a good service, by rousing the Circassians to cooperative action, and harass in the Russians. He gladly seized the idea, sought and obtained the appointment, from the Foreign Office, and on his arrival in the East, although he could not, from circumstances over which he had no control, execute the precise duties of his mission, he, as was kindly written of him by Lord Raglan, 'in the short campaign, in which his health permitted him to assist, was actively engaged in obtaining information and ascertaining, by personal observation, the movements of the enemy, and this service he performed with great intelligence and to the perfect satisfaction of his Commander,' adding 'He was full of ardour and enterprise, and had he been spared, would no doubt have taken advantage of an opportunity to have merited the approbation of his Chiefs' $he climate proved, however, fatal to him ; he was seized with cholera, a few days after the battle of Alma, and sunk under the attack, at Therapia, on the 10th of October, 1854, in his fifty-fifth year, leaving a Widow and a family of Sons, two of whom are now with their regiments in the Crimea, and up to the present time, it is a melancholy fact that his amiable wife, the Daughter of a gentleman whose life was spent in the service of his country, has not yet received from the Government any recognition of the services of her lamented Husband.

Mr. Lloyd was an energetic man, of considerable talent, and ardently attached to scientific pursuits. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1830, was connected with the Royal Geographical and other Societies, and joined the Institution of Civil Engineers, as an Associate Member, in 1849, served on the Council, contributed a paper, for which he received a Telford medal, attended the meetings, took part in the discussions, and on all occasions sought by all means in his power to advance the welfare of the Society.



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