Penny William 
 (12.07.1809–01.02.1892)


Outstanding English whaler, arctic explorer. 
Born in Peterhead, Scotland, in the family of the whaling captain. Already at the age of 12 years he made his first sea voyage on the whaling ship Alert, commanded by his father William Penny the Elder. He took part in at least three trips on this ship to the Greenland Sea, where his father continued to hunt with great success, despite the fact that most of the whalers had already moved to carry out their fishing in the Davis Strait. 
There is no official information about what Penny was doing for several years after 1823, and it is unknown when his first voyage took place in the Davis Strait. In 1829  he was promoted to captain and fished around Durban Island off the coast of Baffin Land. 
Creative nature Penny constantly, from a young age forced him to think about finding new places for fishing. 
In 1832  as Assistant Captain Simpson on the Traveler ship, after an unsuccessful hunt in the Pond Inlet area (north-eastern part of Baffin Earth), he convinced Simpson to reach Lancaster Strait, where they managed to kill many whales. 
The first opportunity to satisfy their interest in research presented to him in 1833. He was again an assistant to Captain Simpson, who managed to kill more than twenty whales that season, which was a great success. Since there was still time before the end of the season, Simpson visited the Eskimos on the coast of Baffin Land to gather information about the possibility of whaling in new territories in an uncharted area further south. The Eskimos reported the existence of a bay near where there were many whales, and Simpson decided to send Penny on a small ship with two locals to inspect the area. They left Simpson's ship on September 22 and soon discovered the bay, which undoubtedly was Exeter Sound, located south of Exeter Bay. They sailed 50 km along it, finding nothing of interest to them when the headwind forced them to turn back. So his first attempt to examine these areas turned out to be a failure. 
Two years later, in 1835  Penny's abilities were highly appreciated and he was given command of the Neptune ship. His first voyage as a captain took place during one of the hardest seasons in whaling history in the Canadian Arctic, but he returned unscathed, despite being several times dead. 
Penny was a supporter of the idea of James Ross about organizing a permanent whaling base on Baffin Earth or adjacent areas. During his voyages, he tried to conduct research on choosing a site for the base and searching for new areas for fishing. 
However, the development of new waters was associated with great difficulties, since the main responsibility of the captain in relation to the ship owner and crew was whaling. If the hunt went well, as it turned out in 1838, there was only time to gather information among the Eskimos and for short research trips like the one he carried out in 1833. Unsuccessful in terms of catch season, as a rule, was associated with poor weather conditions, which minimized the possibility of developing new areas. The only right decision Penny believed the desire to collect information from local residents. 
In 1839 Penny learned from the Eskimos about the existence of a large bay in the south of Baffin Earth. The voyage of 1840 ended with its discovery - it was the bay, called Penny by the Gulf of Hogarth, now called Cumberland. Later, this bay became a place of successful whaling, but that year the discovery of Penny was not appreciated.Since from a financial point of view, the voyage of 1840 turned out to be unprofitable, the ship was sold, and Penny was fired. 
Again he was given a ship only in 1844. In the hall. Cumberland, he got seven whales, which was considered a great success, and in 1845 - nineteen. 
In 1847 Penny was involved in solving the problem of searching for the missing J. Franklin expedition, which set off in search of the Northwest Passage. The expedition started in 1845, and no one showed concern about them until 1847, when the first plans for organizing its searches appeared. Whaling ships were ordered to inspect the surroundings, and Lady Franklin offered them rewards. 
Penny immediately enthusiastically joined in the search. He can rightly be called the first to go in search of Franklin, because he made an attempt to penetrate the Lancaster Strait for this purpose was already in 1847, but due to heavy ice it was not able to move further than 78°N. 
Penny's fascination with search problems caused the whaling masters to be dissatisfied, forcing him to petition for dismissal. 
New work Penny found as the captain of the ship from Dundee "Advice". He only once set sail on this vessel, and again his main goal was to attempt to enter the Lancaster Strait in search of Franklin’s ships, which he undertook in collaboration with the captain of the Truelove ship Parker. And again they did not succeed in this success, but they found deposits of coal on the island of Bylot. 
Shortly after his return home, Penny appealed to Lady Franklin and the Naval Ministry with the request to entrust him with the command of the search expedition. Lady Franklin immediately began to sympathize with him, and F. Beaufort drew general attention to the fact that "it is well known that Mr. Penny showed courage and prudence in many situations" and advised "to show wisdom by giving him the opportunity he asks for". After some thought, the Naval Ministry provided Penny with the command of an official expedition from two ships, "Lady Franklin" and "Sophia". He sailed from spring 1850 to autumn 1851, wintered on  Cornwallis Island  near the fleet of four G. Austin ships and a small private expedition of John Ross. Penny got along very badly with both captains, she and Ross had a strong dislike for each other for a long time, and with Austin they constantly argued about the need to examine the Wellington Strait. In collaboration with the people of Penny, the location of Franklin's first wintering on Beachy Island was determined. The following spring, we surveyed the coastline on a sleigh at a distance of hundreds of miles. In the summer, the expeditions continued their search on the ships. Austin, who examined the eastern and western directions and the southern shores of the  Lancaster Strait did not find other traces of Franklin, Penny, moving north along the Wellington Strait, found convincing evidence that the missing expedition came here (which was indeed true, although Franklin did not stay long in this area). On the island of Bailey Hamilton, Penny discovered a wooden bar made of elm, which at first did not attach much importance, but later this object was an important proof that Franklin stopped in that direction. Now Penny was convinced that Franklin went north into the ocean, but it was very difficult to swim there. Penny headed back with his ships; he could do nothing more, especially since provisions remained only for a week. 
When the collaboration was completed, after negotiations between Austin and Penny on August 11, 1851 all three expeditions headed home. Although the Admiralty and the public were somewhat disappointed by the early return, it was recognized that the expeditions had accomplished much. But then a fierce dispute broke out between Penny and Austin about the results of their research, the reasons for returning home and, finally, directly about the subject of negotiations on the last day of August 11. It all began on September 12, 1851, when Penny immediately after his return to London convinced the Admiralty to immediately send the steamer to resume searches in the Wellington Strait and offered his services as a captain. In subsequent correspondence, he claimed that he did not want to stop searching, and vice versa, asked Austin on August 11 to provide him with a steamer to resume the study of the strait. To this Austin provided a documentary evidence proving the opposite; Penny himself wrote that day that “There is no need for further research on Wellington Strait. Everything that was possible, we have already done". In his defense, Penny claimed that, as Austin was well known, he was not going to explore the strait, but wanted to explore the territory beyond. He spoke of his verbal requests for a steamer and the continuation of the search, cited witnesses who confirmed this. Reciprocal accusations began: each of them responded to the claim with a complaint, letters to the Admiralty were accompanied by letters to the press, and soon the conflict acquired a national scale. The supporters of each side formed two opposing and fiercely-minded camps. As a result, in October - November 1851, a special committee was appointed from five senior naval officials, including three veterans to work in the Arctic: U. Parry, J. Back and F. Beechey to investigate this case. The Committee, which was given the name of the Arctic Committee, held a meeting for 12 days, after listening to the testimony of both captains, their main deputies and other polar explorers, and eventually published a 250-page report containing the results of meetings and discoveries made during their process. When, finally, on December 5, the Committee’s conclusion was made public, it became clear to everyone that Penny was defeated. The committee chose to ignore all Penny's oral negotiations with Austin, and reasoned that "Captain Austin could have reached a conclusion on the written reports of Captain Penny, which were as specific and unambiguous as possible". According to the Committee’s conclusion, Penny’s testimony did not confirm the fact that he asked Austin to provide him with a steamer, moreover, there was a hint that Penny started inflating the whole scandal on purpose only after the expeditions returned home, he noted that everyone was disappointed with their modest achievements. The next blow for Penny was the Committee’s conclusion that one of the expeditions had to stay for another two weeks in the strait in order to obtain information about its suitability for navigation, and that this responsibility rested entirely on Penny. However, the conclusion also contained some consolation for Penny, since it expressed praise and thanks to both captains for their work and achievements. The committee found their return home a reasonable and reasonable step.However, the general impression was that Penny’s arguments were rejected in favor of Austin’s testimony. 
Despite the official conclusion, in the conflict between Austin and Penny, Lady Franklin, J. Barrow, S. Osborne, and many others were on the side of the latter. In their opinion, the conclusion of the Arctic Committee, despite the fact that it was supported by numerous documentary evidence, was clearly biased and was compiled in a situation of hostility towards Penny. The main mistake of the Committee was that it concentrated only on the fact that the ship was not sent when it was necessary. But he did not take into account the whole role of Penny in this expedition, as well as the fact that this man was the most devoted to the search for Franklin, full of enthusiasm and energy, sincerely and wholeheartedly dreamed of doing everything possible for the success of their common enterprise. This was noted by all members of the expedition. 
By and large, neither Austin nor Penny suffered much from this conflict and its results: Austin continued his successful military career, and Penny returned to whaling. 
Despite the criticism, which was generously bestowed on him by Austin and Ross, Penny deserved great popularity among compatriots, and the press closely followed his further endeavors. Penny began to implement his long-standing idea: the creation of a whaling base in the hall. Cumberland. His actions were even more active when he learned that the Americans were ahead of him. Penny has united many enterprising Aberdeen businessmen who founded the Royal Arctic Company. Its director was W. Hogarth, Penny received the post of production manager. On one of the islands in the bay, a settlement was organized in which Penny spent several years. Penny's great merit was that he was not only concerned with the problems of fishing. He paid great attention to the education and spiritual development of the local population, and sought from the church the organization in the settlement of a missionary post. 
In 1861 Penny sailed as a captain on the Polynia steamer from Dundee. This act has caused outrage among its Aberdeen owners. In 1862 he was dismissed. 
After his departure the Company did not last long. Due to financial problems, the ships were sold, and Aberdeen ceased to be a whaling port. 
At the end of his career, Penny returned to his native Peterhead. In 1863  he headed the ship "Queen", which led whaling in the Hudson Bay. He spent quite a bit of time there and stayed for the winter in Cumberland Bay. 
Penny spent the last 25 years of his life in seclusion in Aberdeen, where he died. 
Plateau in the south of Baffin Land.

A bay in the southwest of the island of Victoria in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

Strait between Bathurst Island and the Grinnell Peninsula of Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

 

Return to the main page