Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of George Chaworth Musters(1841-1879)

George Chaworth Musters was the third child and second son of John George Musters (1807-1842) and his wife Emily, née Hamond (1818-1845). He was born in Naples, where his parents were travelling. He was orphaned by the age of 4, and was cared for by his uncles Captain Philip Hamond, and Robert Nicholas Hamond. In 1853 he went on a tour of southern Spain with his uncle Philip and brother John. The following year (at the age of 13) he joined the Navy. He served in HMS Algiers from 1854-1856 and saw action in the Crimean War, receiving the English and Turkish Crimean medals. From 1861 to 1866 he served in the sloop HMS Stromboli off the coast of South America. He was promoted to Commander, but took half-pay in 1869 and took the opportunity to explore the region. He travelled with a tribe of Patagonian Indians for around a year. His explorations were the subject of his book At home with the Patagonians: a year's wanderings over untrodden ground from the Straits of Magellan to the Rio Negro (1871; 2nd edn, 1873), and led to his being awarded a gold watch in 1872 by the Royal Geographical Society. His nickname 'the king of Patagonia' also dates from this time.

In 1872 he went to Vancouver in Canada, and travelled around parts of British Columbia with native tribes. Sailing home the following year, he met a Mr Williams, a British merchant in Bolivia, and his daughter Herminia. George and Herminia were married in London in 1873, and then returned to Bolivia. The results of George's travels in Bolivia were published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1877. In 1878 George was appointed as British Consul to Mozambique, but he died on 25 January 1879 in London before the position started.

A memorial to him in the old Annesley churchyard reads:

In affectionate remembrance of
Commander R.N. Traveller and explorer
in unknown latitudes of South America
He married HERMINIA only daughter of C. WILLIAMS ESQ.
of Sucre & died Jan: 28th 1879 aged 37, leaving three daughters
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in Great Waters
these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep

Memorial to George Chaworth Musters. © Ian Palmer 2007 

Memorial to George Chaworth Musters, 2007


In 1873 he married Herminia Williams, of le Sucre, Bolivia, and had:

  • Emilia Chaworth Musters
  • Teresa Chaworth Musters
  • Rosita Chaworth Musters

His widow married 2ndly M. de Bodona, a South American businessman 


Archive Collections

  •  The Chaworth-Musters collection (ChM) held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham includes George's travel diary during a holiday to Spain in 1853 (ChM/F/2); letters from George, on board HMS Algiers and HMS Goyon, at the Crimea, Smyrna [Izmir] and Bodrum, Turkey, to his sister Mary Anne Chaworth Packe, née Musters, 1854-1857 (in bundle ChM/C/6/1-31); and a letter from Buenos Aires, Argentina (particularly describing tiger hunting), to his brother John Chaworth Musters, dated 1867 (in bundle ChM/C/7/1-39).


Published Sources

  • H.M. Chichester, ‘Musters, George Chaworth (1841–1879)’, rev. John Dickenson, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005, available to subscribers [, accessed 21 Nov 2007]
  • 'Obituary: Commander George Chaworth Musters, R.N.', in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, new ser., 1 (1879), 397–8

Some biographical details also feature in the following publications:

  • Patrick T.A. Musters, The Musters : a family gathering, 2nd edn (Oakham, Rutland : P. T. A. Musters, 2001) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Oversize Not 4N.V30 MUS]
  • Denis R. Pearson, Annesley through the Ages (Alfreton : Bailey & Sons, 1995) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 8.D14 PEA]
  • Frank P. Lyons, Hills of Annesley (new edn ed. by Ruth Ansley Grant, Longwood, FL : R. A. Grant, c.1988) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Oversize Not 8.D14 LYO]


Publications by George Chaworth Musters

  • G.C. Musters, At home with the Patagonians: a year's wanderings over untrodden ground from the Straits of Magellan to the Rio Negro (London: John Murray, 1871)
  • G. C. Musters, ‘Notes on Bolivia, to accompany original maps’, in Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 47 (1877), 210–16

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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