Edward Augustus Inglefield (1820-1894)


  • Ian R. Stone




Biographies, Expeditions, Explorers, History, Inglefield, Edward Augustus, 1820-1894, Search for Franklin, Baffin Island waters, Nunavut, Beechey Island waters, Greenland waters, Jones Sound, Northwest Passage, Smith Sound, Greenland/Nunavut


Inglefield was one of the large number of Royal Naval officers whose careers were advanced by participation in the Franklin search. This was a highly satisfactory time for such men as it provided ample opportunity for employment in a rigorous environment and in a cause in which there was a gratifyingly high level of public interest. The North was certainly much healthier than the other contemporary area in which naval initiative could be displayed - off the African coast in the suppression of the slave trade. In the Franklin search Inglefield did not, however, achieve the highest distinction. He visited the Arctic three times, but his second and third voyages were simply means of communications with Sir Edward Belcher's 1852-1854 expedition. His first voyage, on the other hand, did have one solid achievement that greatly redounded to Inglefield's credit, and this is sufficient reason for devoting attention to him. ... Inglefield was one of Lady Franklin's happier appointments. The expedition differed from the other expeditions in which she was active in that Inglefield was, himself, to "provide a crew, and what other fitments the vessel needed" for the voyage, on return from which the ship was to become his own property. ... The plan was to search Jones Sound and the west coast of Baffin Bay for traces of Franklin. The west coast of Greenland was examined on the outward voyage, and new discoveries of geographical features were made. Smith Sound was penetrated to a latitude of 78 28 21 N, "therefore placing the Isabel about 140 miles further than had been reached by any previous navigator, of whom we have any records." ... Jones Sound was investigated as far as 84 10 W, and then a visit was made to Beechey Island in Lancaster Sound, where communication was established with H.M.S. North Star, the depot ship of Belcher's expedition. Inglefield "pressed upon Captain Pullen the acceptance of all my surplus stores and provisions," but this offer was declined as Pullen was "prohibited by his commanding officer from in any way to interfere with a private vessel." Despite this, Inglefield made various presents to the officers' mess, including "preserved beef and ox cheek," and after exchanging letters, Isabel set sail. The eastern coast of Baffin Island was then examined, before the approach of winter forced the expedition home. ... Inglefield was well received at home and was awarded honours and medals. In the following year, the Admiralty appointed him to command a voyage by H.M.S. Phoenix and Breadalbane to take supplies to Belcher's expedition. ... The vessels arrived at Beechey Island on 8 August 1853, and Inglefield was immediately made aware of the difficult situation on the Belcher expedition arising from the character of its commander. ... Two unfortunate incidents occurred during this voyage: Breadalbane was lost off Cape Riley on 21 August, and Bellot, while carrying despatches up Wellington Channel, was drowned. Inglefield returned to England with the news that the crew of H.M.S. Investigator, which had attempted to penetrate the Canadian archipelago from the west, was safe and that the Northwest Passage had finally been discovered. He transported home Samuel Gurney Cresswell, of the Investigator, and Cresswell thus became the first person to travel through the Passage from end to end. Despite the loss of Breadalbane, Inglefield received the plaudits of the Admiralty and was appointed to conduct a similar voyage the following year. ... Upon arrival at Beechey Island, Inglefield discovered that all four of Belcher's ships and Investigator had been abandoned and that their crews were assembled on board North Star, the only remaining vessel. Most of the men were transported home in Inglefield's ships. ...






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