Couch, correspondence

Scope and Content

  • MS 248/363;D Letter to his parents, 4 to 11 July 1845 [In HMS Erebus, Whalefish Islands] 2 leaves

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin) was to search for a Northwest Passage in the unexplored region southwest of Barrow Strait. Sailing from London in May 1845 HMS Erebus (Franklin) and HMS Terror (Crozier) were last seen heading for Lancaster Sound by two whalers in northern Baffin Bay in late July 1845. After that, the expedition disappeared and Europeans never again saw its members alive. During the course of many search expeditions the main facts regarding the route taken and final fate of the expedition were established.

The two vessels had become beset north of King William Island, where they spent two winters between September 1846 and April 1848. Franklin died on 11 June 1847 and the command devolved on Francis Crozier. Abandoning the two vessels on 22 April 1848, 105 survivors led by Crozier set out toward Back River. All perished during the journey.

By discovering a channel of communication between known points in Barrow Strait and on the north coast, Franklin's men had effectively discovered the Northwest Passage.



Related Material

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material relating to this expedition see SPRI collections GB 15 Sir John Franklin, GB 15 Geoffrey Callender, GB 15 John Colston, GB 15 Edward Couch, GB 15 Sophia Cracroft, GB 015 Francis Crozier, GB 15 Richard Cyriax, GB 15 Earl of Auckland, GB 15 John Fitzjames, GB 15 Jane Franklin, GB 15 Graham Gore, GB 15 John Gregory, GB 15 Edward Griffiths, GB 15 Alexander McDonald, GB 15 Charles Osmer and GB 15 Steven Stanley

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, including daguerreotypes of this expedition. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.

Additional Information

This letter is a copied extract in unknown hand