Sir James Clark Ross
– April 3
), was a British naval officer
. He explored the Arctic
with his uncle Sir John Ross
and Sir William Parry
, and later led his own expedition to Antarctica
Ross was born in London. He entered the navy in 1812 under his uncle, whom he accompanied on Sir John's first Arctic voyage in search of a Northwest Passage
in 1818. Between 1819 and 1827, Ross took part in four Arctic expeditions under Parry, and in 1829 to 1833, again served under his uncle on Sir John's second Arctic voyage. It was during this trip that they located the position of the North Magnetic Pole
on June 1
on the Boothia Peninsula
in the far north of Canada. It was on this trip, too, that Ross charted the Beaufort Islands, later renamed Clarence Islands
by his uncle.
In 1834, Ross was promoted to captain, and from 1835 to 1838, he was employed on the magnetic survey of Great Britain.
Between 1839 and 1843, Ross commanded an Antarctic expedition comprising the vessels HMS Erebus
and HMS Terror
and charted much of the coastline of the Antarctic continent. Also aboard was Joseph Dalton Hooker
who had been invited along as assistant surgeon. Erebus
were bomb vessels
- an unusual type of warship named after the mortar bombs they were designed to fire and constructed with extremely strong hulls, to withstand the recoil of the mortars, which were to prove of great value in thick ice.
In 1841, James Ross discovered the Ross Sea, Victoria Land, and the volcanoes Mount Erebus and Mount Terror, which were named for the expedition's vessels. They sailed for along the edge of the low, flat-topped ice shelf they called the Victoria Barrier, later named "Ross Ice Shelf" in his honour. In the following year, he attempted to penetrate south at about 55°W, and explored the eastern side of what is now known as James Ross Island, discovering and naming Snow Hill Island and Seymour Island. It is noteworthy that Ross reported that Admiralty Sound was blocked by glaciers at its southern end, providing evidence for a much greater extent for the ice-shelves in Prince Gustav Channel and the northern Larsen Ice Shelf.
On his return, Ross was knighted, and was also nominated to the French order of the Legion d'Honneur. In 1847, he published his account of the expedition under the title of A Voyage of Discovery and Research to Southern and Antarctic Regions. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1848, and in that year made his last expedition, as captain of HMS Enterprise, accompanied by HMS Investigator, in the first expedition in search of Sir John Franklin.
James was married to Lady Ann Ross. He died at Aylesbury in 1862, five years after his wife. A blue plaque marks Ross's home in Eliot Place, Blackheath, London.
- The Royal Navy in Polar Exploration From Frobisher to Ross - E C Coleman - 2006 ISBN 0-7524-3660-0
- The Royal Navy in Polar Exploration From Franklin to Scott - E C Coleman - 2006