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Lecture - Charting the Life of Alexander Dalrymple (1737-1808) Hydrographer to the East India Company and the Admiralty - Mr. Peter Geldart

  • Centre for Visual Arts 7A Kennedy Road Hong Kong Island Hong Kong (map)

Alexander Dalrymple (1737-1808) was a prolific and zealous compiler, editor and publisher of marine charts, and his major contributions to cartography include over 1100 charts and views of Asia, India, Australia, Africa and the Pacific, as well as numerous sailing directions, books, monographs and letters. Between 1759 and 1764 Dalrymple made three visits on the Cuddalore and the London to the southern coasts of China, Indochina, the Philippines and Borneo, and his charts and views of these coasts include the first chart to show and name Hong Kong Island (as “Fanchin Chow”) and the first view of the Peak.

In his long career Dalrymple was appointed Provisional Deputy Governor of Manila; proposed the establishment of a British trading emporium on the island of Balambangan; served the British East India Company (EIC) as its Hydrographer for over 40 years; supported the “counterpoise” theory of the Great Southern Continent (disproved by James Cook); actively cooperated with the great French cartographer J.B.N.D. d’Après de Mannevillette; and (in 1795) was appointed as the first Hydrographer to the British Admiralty until, following a bitter quarrel with the newly-appointed Chart Committee, he was dismissed and died in 1808.

Before Dalrymple, British charts were inferior to those of the French and the Dutch, whereas by the time of his death Britain led the world in the science of marine cartography.   

The Speaker

Peter Geldart has an M.A. degree in Law from Cambridge University, and qualified as a barrister-at-law with Gray’s Inn.  He worked in banking, finance and insurance for 42 years in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. Mr Geldart, who is semi-retired, now resides partly in Hong Kong (where he has lived since 1980) and partly in Manila.  As a keen collector of antique maps, he is a director of the Philippine Map Collectors Society (PHIMCOS) and a member of the International Map Collectors Society (IMCOS). In 2017 he curated and wrote the catalogue for Mapping the Philippine Seas, an exhibition of charts of the Philippines from the 16th to the 19th centuries, which was sponsored by PHIMCOS and held at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.  He is also the editor of the PHIMCOS journal, The Murillo Bulletin, and recently assisted the Hong Kong Maritime Museum in cataloguing the Gordian Gaeta Map Collection.

Reception opens 6:30 pm, talk starts 7:00 pm

Admission: RAS Members $100; Non-Members / Guests $150

Booking: Please email in advance to reserve your place and pay at the door