Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hearne, Samuel

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HEARNE, SAMUEL (1745–1792), traveller, born in London in 1745, served as midshipman in the royal navy 1756–63, some of the time under Captain Samuel (afterwards Viscount) Hood [q. v.] He then entered the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, and in 1768–70 made three voyages of exploration for them in the north-west. On 15 July 1771 he began a survey of the Coppermine River, which he reached after a journey of thirteen hundred miles on foot, proceeded as far as the Great Slave Lake, and after the sorest privations made his way back to Prince of Wales's Fort 30 June 1772. He supposed that in this journey he had reached the northern coast of North America, and stood on the shores of the ‘Hyperborean Sea.’ He received the thanks of the Hudson's Bay Company and a handsome gratuity. In 1774 he established Fort Cumberland in the interior; in 1775 he was appointed governor of the company's station known as Prince of Wales's Fort, and was made prisoner at its capture by the French naval commander, La Perouse, in 1782 (see Gent. Mag. 1782, pp. 501, 546). He returned to England in 1787, and died in 1792. He is described as a man of enlightened and benevolent character, as well as of great courage and perseverance, and a close observer. After his death his ‘Account of a Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the North-West, undertaken … for the discovery of Copper Mines, a North-West Passage, &c.,’ was published in London in 1795, and another edition in Dublin in 1796. A German version is given in Sprengel's ‘Nachrichten.’

[Rose's New Biog. Dict. vol. xii.; Drake's American Biog. Dict.; Hearne's Journey, &c., London, 1795, 4to, which contains a refutation of Alex. Dalrymple's charges of inaccuracy in Hearne's latitudes; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books.]

H. M. C.