||Stokes entered the Navy in 1824 and joined the BEAGLE the following year. He served in her for eighteen years, surveying first in South American and then in Australian waters. He was Assistant Surveyor under Robert Fitzroy (1805-1865) during the voyage of 1831 to 1836 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1837. When, in 1841, John Clements Wickham (1798-1864) was invalided during the Australian survey, Stokes took command of the BEAGLE and completed the commission, returning to England in 1843. He was promoted to captain in 1846. From 1847 to 1851 he commanded the ACHERON on the survey of New Zealand. His last employment was in the English Channel survey, 1859 to 1863. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1864, vice-admiral in 1871 and admiral in 1877.
||The papers were purchased from the family at Scotchwell House, near Haverfordwest, in 1960. They include logs, 1837 to 1843, 1848 to 1849, 1851 and 1859 to 1863, letter-books, 1841 to 1843, 1848 to 1851 and 1860 to 1862, and correspondence, 1844 to 1858. There are no papers for the first voyage of the Beagle. For the second and more famous voyage, 1831 to 1836, on which Charles Darwin sailed, there are some official service documents of Stokes, some orders, notes on surveying, rough notes on navigation in South American waters and a few rough sketches. For the third voyage, 1837 to 1843, there are survey notebooks, some letters and orders, a night order book, a game book, a list of the crew, some accounts, an album of sketches and some loose sketches. The bulk of the collection relates to the voyage of the Acheron. There is a draft narrative of the first part of the voyage, together with survey notebooks, an abstract of the ship's positions, miscellaneous letters and papers and views, sketches and rough charts. This last group comprises about 150 single items, mostly coastal views. Some of the more finished sketches can be identified as the work of William Swainson (1789-1855), Frederick John Owen Evans (1815-1885), later Hydrographer to the Admiralty, and W.J.W. Hamilton, an artist who accompanied the expedition. His sketchbook is also in the collection. Finally there are survey notebooks and a calculations book for the English Channel survey.