Gore, British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848

Scope and Content

  • MS 1067;IL Record, May 1847 [Left at King William Island] 1 sheet, printed with notes

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 a Northwest Passage.



Related Material

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

Additional Information

The record was found in 1859 by W R Hobson of the British Franklin Search Expedition, 1857-1859 (leader Sir Francis Leopold McClintock). This was the first of only two records left by Franklin's expedition that were eventually recovered. It records briefly the expedition's wintering at Beechey Island and reports 'all well'