Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Collinson, Richard
COLLINSON, Admiral Sir Richard, K.C.B., F.R.G.S., was born Nov. 7, 1811, at Gateshead, co. Durham, of which place his father was rector. On Dec. 3, 1823, he entered the Royal Navy as volunteer on board H.M.S. Cambridge, Captain Maling, under whose command he served three years on the Pacific station. After a short stay in England he entered as midshipman on board the Chanticleer, Captain Foster, which vessel was fitted out under the auspices of the Royal Society and employed in making pendulum, magnetic, and meteorological observations on the shores and islands in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1831 he was appointed to the Ætna, Captain Belcher, occupied in the survey of the Coast of Africa; and subsequently to the Salamander and Medea, under the command of Captain Austin. Being promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1835, he joined the Sulphur, Captain Beechey, as assistant-surgeon, and was employed in the examination of the coasts of Central America and Mexico; visiting California, Vancouver's Island, Sitka, and fixing the position of Mount St. Elias. Returning to England in 1839, he was appointed additional lieutenant to the Flagship on the coast for surveying duty, and took an active part in all the operations of the first Chinese war; receiving his promotion to the rank of commander in 1841, and captain and C.B. in 1842 for his services. At the conclusion of the war he remained four years on the coast of China in command of H.M.S. Plover, laying down the coast-line and making plans of the different harbours between the Yangtsekiang and Hongkong: thus enabling merchant ships to approach the Treaty Ports in safety. In 1849, on the return of Sir James Rosa in the Enterprise and Investigator from Lancaster Sound, after an ineffectual search for Sir John Franklin, the Government determined to despatch those vessels to Behring Strait, and the Admiralty selected Captain Collinson to command the expedition. The two vessels left Plymouth on the 20th Jan., 1850, passing through the Straits of Magelhaen, and calling at the Sandwich Islands. The Enterprise reached Point Barrow on the 16th of August, 1850, when the ice was found to butt close on the shore, and after an ineffectual attempt to round the point, in which lat. 73° 23′ in long. 164° was reached, the ship returned to the southward, and after passing the winter at Hongkong, the Enterprise reached the edge of the ice in lat. 60° on May 31, 1851, and rounded Point Barrow in the pack on the 25th of July. After passing three winters in the ice, during which period 5,735 miles of coast were searched by means of boats and sledges—one of the latter passing within forty miles of the position in which the Erebus and Terror were abandoned—the ship returned to Behring Straits in the end of August, 1854, having been forty months on her own resources. On his return to England he received the medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his exploration of these regions, and the proof that by bringing his ship back in safety the northern face of the continent of America was navigable by a sailing ship from Behring Strait to King William's Land. After service on the Defence Commission and the Lakes in Canada, Captain Collinson received his promotion to flag rank in 1862, and was made a K.C.B. in 1875. In 1862 he was elected an Elder Brother of the Corporation of the Trinity House, and since Sept. 7, 1875, he has occupied the honourable position of Deputy Master of that Corporation. "The China Pilot," compiled chiefly from the surveys of Captain Collinson, was published in 1855, and reached a second edition in 1858. He is the author of "Nine Weeks in Canada," published in "Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel in 1861; edited by Francis Galton," Cambridge, 1862; and he edited for the Hakluyt Society, "The Three Voyages of Martin Frobisher, in search of a passage to Cathaia and India by the North-west, a.d. 1576-8," London, 8vo, 1867.