9. Lyon, George Francis (1795-1832)

A Brief Narrative of an Unsuccessful Attempt to Reach Repulse Bay, through Sir Thomas Rowe's "Welcome," in His Majesty's Ship Griper, in the year MCCCCXXIV.  London: John Murray, 1825.


A polar bear gains on the Griper in Hudson Strait,  from George Lyon, A Brief Narrative, 1825.


A native of Southampton Island on a raft of inflated sealskins, from George Lyon, A Brief Narrative, 1825.

After successfully commanding the Hecla on Parry’s second voyage, Lyon was promoted and assigned to a new expedition, in command of the Griper. His orders were to sail into Hudson Bay through Hudson Strait, and then up through Thomas Rowe’s Welcome, as was called the sound between Southhampton Island and the Melville Peninsula, to Repulse Bay. 

Once there, he was to go overland, hoping to reach Point Turnagain, the easternmost point of Franklin’s first land expedition.   The Griper had been one of the two ships on Parry’s first voyage, which made it all the way to Melville Island, but the Griper was not, in truth, a very sea-worthy ship.  Lyon had real problems navigating the craft, and his most successful achievement was to survive several months of being tossed about in the Frozen Straits. 

Fearing for the lives of himself and his crew, he returned to England in the same year he had left, to confront an Admiralty that was less than pleased.  In spite of the failed mission, he did memorialize his voyage with several compelling images that he himself drew.  One plate shows a polar bear on an ice floe, seeming to gain on a beleaguered Griper.  Another depicts a native Inuit that Lyon encountered off Southampton Island, paddling out to greet them, not in a kayak, but on a raft made of three inflated sealskins.

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