II. Arctic Ice: Private Ventures


Saving provisions from the threatened Terror, from George Back, Narrative of an Expedition in H.M.S. Terror, 1838 (see item 19).

It would seem that the first decade of British Arctic exploration brought some notable successes, but the Admiralty was more concerned with the failures, and with the fact that little had been achieved since the first Parry voyage of 1819-20. 

Moreover, the Board of Longitude was dissolved in 1828, and with its demise went the financial rewards that had been offered for a successful Northwest Passage. 

Consequently, no new Arctic voyages were planned after 1828.  Fortunately, private enterprise would step into the void.  First, John Ross would convince a gin distiller to underwrite a second attempt at a Northwest Passage.  And when Ross had not been seen for two years, the Hudson’s Bay Company, aided by a reluctant Admiralty, sent a search expedition. 

Finally, the Company, in the late 1830s, sponsored its own overland mapping expeditions to the Arctic coastline.  It would not be until 1845, after first voyaging to Antarctica, that the British Navy would get back into the business of searching for a Northwest Passage.


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