Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ross, John (explorer)

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ROSS, Sir John, British explorer, b. in Balsarroch, Scotland, 24 June, 1777; d. in London, England, 30 Aug., 1856. He was the son of a clergyman, entered the royal navy in 1786, and was severely wounded four times under the batteries of Bilbao, Spain, receiving a pension of £150 per annum. In 1817 he was offered the command of two vessels for an arctic expedition to ascertain the existence of a northwest passage, and on 25 April, 1818, he sailed in the “Isabella,” accompanied by Lieut. William E. Parry in the “Alexander.” He returned to England in November of that year, and was made post-captain on 7 Dec., 1818. In May, 1829, he sailed in the steamer “Victory,” equipped by Sir Felix Booth, sheriff of London, and was accompanied by a small tender of sixteen tons, the “ Krusenstein.” In September, 1830, he became ice-bound in the Gulf of Boothia, and he abandoned his ship on 29 May, 1832. In August, 1833, his party was rescued by the “Isabella,” then engaged on a whaling expedition. He arrived in London in 1833, and was knighted, 24 Dec., 1834, and made companion of the bath. From 1839 till 1845 he was consul at Stockholm, and in 1850 he commanded the “Felix,” a vessel of ninety tons, in search of Sir John Franklin, returning in 1851, in which year he became rear-admiral. His publications include “A Voyage of Discovery made under the Orders of the Admiralty for the Purpose of exploring Baffin's Bay, and inquiring into the probability of a N. W. Passage” (London, 1819); “Observations on 'Voyages of Discovery and Research within the Arctic Regions,' by Sir John Barrow” (1819; 2d ed., 1846); “Treatise on Navigation by Steam ” (1828); “Narrative of a Second Voyage in Search of a Northwest Passage, etc., including the Reports of Capt. James Clarke Ross and the Discovery of the Northern Magnetic Pole” (1835); “Memoirs and Correspondence of Admiral Lord de Saurey” (2 vols., 1838); “Arctic Expedition, with a Summary of the Searching Expeditions for Sir John Franklin” (1850); and a “Narrative of the Circumstances and Causes which led to the Failure of the Searching Expeditions sent out by the Government and Others for the Rescue of Sir John Franklin” (1855). — His nephew, Sir James Clarke, explorer, b. in London, England, 15 April, 1800; d. in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England, 3 April, 1862, entered the navy in 1812, and accompanied his uncle on his first arctic expedition in 1818. From 1819 till 1827 he was with Capt. Parry in his voyages in search of a northwest passage, and also in his expedition of 1827. He was appointed commander on 8 Nov., 1827, sailed with his uncle in 1829, was absent four years, and discovered what he believed to be the northern magnetic pole. On his return to England he was made post-captain, 28 Oct., 1834, crossed the Atlantic in 1836 to search for missing whaling vessels, and after his return engaged in a magnetic survey of Great Britain and Ireland. In April, 1839, he was appointed to command the “Erebus,” and in September of that year, in company with the “Terror,” sailed for the Antarctic seas to make magnetic and meteorological observations and investigations. After a successful voyage of four years, in which much valuable information regarding this region was gained, he returned to England in September, 1843. In January, 1848, he was appointed to the “Enterprise” and made an unsuccessful voyage to Baffin bay in search of Sir John Franklin, going as far as Barrow strait. In 1841 he was presented with the founder's gold medal of the London geographical society, and he also received a gold medal from the Geographical society of Paris, was knighted in 1844, and received in that year the degree of D. C. L. from Oxford. He was the author of “A Voyage of Discovery and Research in the Southern and Antarctic Regions during the Years 1839-'43” (2 vols., London, 1847).