Parry, papers

Scope and Content

  • MS 438/3;BJ Statement of honours offered to William Edward Parry, 24 January 1822, 1 volume, holograph

Administrative / Biographical History

The collection relates to (William) Edward Parry, the fourth son of the eminent physician Dr. Caleb Hillier Parry and Gertrude's brother.

In 1803, William Edward Parry entered the Royal Navy, in 1818, he was given the command of HMS Alexander on the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition (leader John Ross), sent in company with HMS Isabella to search for a Northwest Passage by way of Baffin Bay. The following year, Parry led the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1819-1820, sailing in HMS Hecla, accompanied by HMS Griper under Matthew Liddon, to seek a passage through Lancaster Sound in the Canadian Arctic. The expedition reached Davis Strait before proceeding to Lancaster Sound where the two vessels continued westward, exploring Prince Regent Inlet before progressing along Barrow Strait. On 6 September 1819, Parry crossed the meridian of 110?West, off the south shore of Melville Island, earning for the expedition the prize of 5,000 offered by Parliament for reaching this longitude. The expedition wintered at Melville Island, this was the first deliberate Arctic wintering by British naval ships and Parry pioneered techniques for protection against illness and the intense cold. On his return to Britain Parry was publicly honoured and was promoted to the rank of commander for solving the longstanding problem of locating the elusive entrance to the Northwest Passage, in addition to navigating about halfway through the passage. His narrative of the expedition Journal of a Voyage to discover a Northwest Passage was published in 1821.


As deposited.

Related Material

The Institute holds extensive archival collections for William Edward Parry covering both his naval carrier and subsequent life.