Joseph Foss Dessiou

(1769 - 1853)

Dessiou’s father, Joseph Dessiou (1743-1822), and one of his two sons, also Joseph Foss (1792-1818), were all hydrographers. Between 1770 and 1851, they produced more than one hundred items of hydrographic work: charts, sailing directions, light lists, the first tide table from a published method, and hydrographic serials.

Joseph Foss Dessiou I, was the early nineteenth century’s most prolific hydrographer. Before 1802, he served on naval ships, including the Camilla, Albion, Warrior and Dreadnought. Afterwards, he became master of the merchantman Naples. Alone, he was responsible for more than fifty charts and sailing directions, the majority of which were published by William Faden. Many of his charts, most notably those of the Channel could be and were formed into pilots. In February 1828, he was appointed to the Hydrographical Office, where he helped in the production of the first volume of the Admiralty Pilot and produced several more charts, and numerous tidal charts. He would late become among the first systematic tidal investigators and paid tidal scientists; he was the first director of the Admiralty tide tables.