My Dear Beaufort: A Personal Letter from John Ross's Arctic Expedition of 1829-33


  • Clive Holland
  • James M. Savelle



Expeditions, Exploration, History, Ross, John, 1777-1856, Victory (Ship), Canadian Arctic Islands, Canadian Arctic Islands waters, Northwest Passage


During his four years' residence in the Canadian Arctic in search of a Northwest Passage in 1829-33, John Ross wrote a private letter to Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer of the Navy. The letter, reproduced here, provides valuable historical insights into many aspects of Ross's character and of the expedition generally. His feelings of bitterness toward several of his contemporaries, especially John Barrow and William E. Parry, due to the ridicule suffered as a result of the failure of his first arctic voyage in 1818, are especially revealing, as is his apparently uneasy relationship with his nephew and second-in-command, James Clark Ross. Ross's increasing despair and pessimism with each succeeding enforced wintering and, eventually, the abandonment of the expedition ship Victory are also clearly evident. Finally, the understandable problems of maintaining crew discipline during the final year of the expedition, though downplayed, begin to emerge.

Key words: John Ross, arctic exploration, 1829-33 Arctic Expedition, unpublished letter