McClure, correspondence

Scope and Content

  • MS 1044/8-9;D Letters (2, copies) to Captain Sir Edward Belcher, 12 May 1854 [Regarding British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1854 led by McClure] 7 leaves, holograph (Xerox)
  • MS 1226/18/1-4;D Letters (4) to Sir James Clark Ross, 1849 to 1855 [From HMS Enterpriseand HMS Investigator] 20 leaves, holograph

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1845 Sir John Franklin sailed north in command of the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition. Sent by the Admiralty the two ships HMS Erebus (Franklin) and HMS Terror (Francis Crozier) were to search for a passage via Lancaster Sound. With provisions designed to last three years the expedition sailed north in May 1845. Whalers in Baffin Bay were the last Europeans to see the two ships in July of 1845.

Many searches were conducted for the missing expedition during the course of which the main facts regarding the route taken and the final fate of the expedition were established.

Part of the correspondence was written by McClure during the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1849 (leader Sir James Clark Ross). Despatched to search along the shores around Lancaster Sound towards Barrow Strait and Wellington Channel and Prince Regent Inlet. Ice prevented the two vessels HMS Enterprise and HMS Investigator (Edward Bird) from progressing past Lancaster Sound. Sledge parties carried out surveying and depot laying work during the spring. Further letters relate to the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1854 (led by McClure) sailing from London in January of 1850 HMS Investigator was separated early in the voyages from Richard Collinnson's British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1855 (HMS Enterprise ). In September 1850, McClure discovered Prince of Wales Strait between Banks and Victoria Islands, which he managed to sail part way up before becoming frozen in for the winter. Further exploration by sledge showed that the strait led to Viscount Melville Sound, confirming the existence of a Northwest Passage. Remaining beset in Mercy Bay throughout 1852, McClure sledged east to Winter Harbour on Melville Island where he left a note describing the ships position, this led to the rescue of the expedition in 1853 by members of HMS Resolute British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Henry Kellett).

Other letters deal with McClure's chances of promotion with mention of Jane, Lady Franklin



Related Material

The Institute holds correspondence by McClure amongst the Back collection (MS 395/49/1-4;BL McCLURE Letters (4) to George Back, 1848 to 1853 [Regarding British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1852] 4 leaves, holograph)

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material relating to the 1848-1849 Franklin search expedition, see SPRI collections GB 15 Edward Adams, GB 15 Sir George Back, GB 15 Sir John Barrow, GB 15 Sir Francis Beaufort, GB 15 Frederick William Beechey, GB 15 William Dyer, GB 15 Jane Franklin, GB 15 Sir Francis Leopold McClintock, GB 15 Sir William Edward Parry, GB 15 Charles Phillips, GB 15 James Clark Ross and GB 15 Sir Edward Sabine. See also SPRI collections GB 15 James Nelson for material on McClure's 1850-1854 expedition

Corporate Names