Basil Hall

Birth: 1788


Basil Hall (1788-1844) was a British naval officer, traveller and miscellaneous writer, was born at Edinburgh on the 31st of December 1788. His father was Sir James Hall of Dunglass, the geologist. Basil Hall was educated at the High School, Edinburgh, and in 1802 entered the navy, where he rose to the rank of post-captain in 1817, after seeing active service in several fields.

By observing the ethnological as well as the physical peculiarities of the countries he visited, he collected the materials for a very large number of scientific papers. In 1816 he commanded the sloop "Lyra," which accompanied Lord Amherst's embassy to China; and he described his cruise in An Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea and the Great Loo-choo Island in the Japan Sea (London, 1818). In 1820 he held a command on the Pacific coast of America, and in 1824 published two volumes of Extracts from a Journal written on the Coasts of Chili, Peru and Mexico in the Years 1820-21-22.

Retiring on half-pay in 1824, Hall in 1825 married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Hunter, and in her company travelled (1827-1828) through the United States. In 1829 he published his Travels in North America in the Years 1827 and 1828, which was assailed by the American press for its views of American society. Schloss Hainfeld, or a Winter in Lower Styria (1836), is partly a romance, partly a description of a visit paid by the author to the castle of the countess Purgstall.

Spain and the Seat of War in Spain appeared in 1837. The Fragments of Voyages and Travels (9 vols.) were issued in three detachments between 1831 and 1840. Captain Hall was a fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, and of the Royal Astronomical, Royal Geographical and Geological Societies. His last work, a collection of sketches and tales under the name of Patchwork (1841), had not been long published before its author became insane, and he died in Haslar hospital, Portsmouth, on the 11th of September 1844.


1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 12. pg. 845.

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