Ross James
(15.04.1800–03.04.1862)


English naval officer, an outstanding arctic and antarctic explorer.
Born in London. Ross began serving in the navy as a volunteer at the age of 12 on board the ship, whose captain was his uncle John Ross, later a rear admiral. Until 1817, as a midshipman, he sailed in the Baltic and White seas, in the Channel, near the west coast of Scotland.
In 1818  Ross participated in the first English expedition to the American Arctic after the nearly two centuries of interruption. The initiative of resuming the voyages belonged to the Secretary of the English Admiralty, J. Barrow, who always knew how to achieve his goals, using any means for that. This expedition was headed by John Ross, and one of the two ships was commanded by W. Parry. The ships of the Isabella and Alexander expeditions reached the Baffin Sea and passed to its northern part, specifying and correcting the map compiled earlier by W. Buffin: they took the line of the Greenland coast almost 10° west of and 200 km to the north, revealed Melville Bay.

Northwest exit from the sea,  Jones Strait, was packed with ice, and the ships headed for the then unknown strait Lancaster. The expedition leader saw high mountains, and this mirage made him turn back: he considered the strait as a bay. The expedition carried out valuable scientific observations, but its geographical results were insufficient - a passage to the Pacific Ocean was not found.
In subsequent years, Ross participated in three Arctic expeditions under the command of W. Parry.
In 1819  the ships Parry "Hekla" and "Greiper" were in the passage Lancaster, they were convinced that the mountains are a mirage, opened up the straits adjoining it and a number of lands washed by their waters. Expedition wintered on  Melville island, the next year, she could not go further to the west and in October 1820 she returned to England.
In 1824–1825 Ross participated in the expedition under the command of Parry for the second time. On the ships "Hekla" and "Fury" examined the Prince-Regent Strait, where they were forced to stand for a ten-month wintering. In the spring, it turned out that Fury, which Ross was on, had fallen into disrepair and had to be thrown.
In 1827, Ross, as the commander of Hekla, once again participated in the expedition of Parry, who was trying to reach the North Pole on ice from Spitsbergen.
Upon his return, Ross did not stay long in England and already in 1829 took part in the expedition of his uncle John Ross that lasted four years.
John Ross was the failure of 1818, when he took the mirage for a mountain range and considered the Strait of Lancaster a gulf. Ross Sr. conceived a new expedition, but the Admiralty did not support him. Then he allocated 3,000 pounds sterling and additionally used the help of the rich merchant-patron Felix Butiy, who allocated 17,000 pounds sterling. In gratitude, John Ross immortalized the name of the patron of the arts, naming a large peninsula and a bay in his honor.
In 1829, they performed on the paddle steamer “Victoria” and reached Prince-Regent Strait through the Lancaster Strait, in which in 1824–1825 wintered Parry. They managed to go further south to Parry and discover an unknown peninsula (Butiya). Here we got up for the first wintering, for which the second followed, since it was not possible to get rid of ice. During this time, James Ross investigated in detail the Butiya Peninsula. During one of his trips, he crossed the strait, washing the peninsula from the west (later named after him) and discovered the land, which he took to be the peninsula. In fact, it was King William Island, which in 15 years became the scene of the tragedy of the expedition of J. Franklin. Discoveries Ross largely clarified the configuration of the Arctic coast of North America. On the south-west coast of the Boothia Peninsula, James Ross discovered the North Magnetic Pole and hoisted the British flag there.
And the ship spent the third winter practically in the same place. The commander decided to throw the ship and head over the ice to the  Lancaster Strait. The fourth wintering was spent on the southeast coast of the island of Somerset in the place where Parry left Fury in 1824 and left there a warehouse with a large supply of food and equipment. This saved the Ross expedition.
In the summer of 1833, long-suffering travelers reached across the ice of the Barrow Strait, moved into the boats brought with them and moved to the Lancaster Strait, at the entrance to which the ship "Isabella" was met by chance. This meeting is from the category of meetings of F. Nansen with F. Jackson or V. Albanov and A. Conrad with the expedition of G. Sedov to “St. Fock. "Isabella" was exactly the ship that John Ross commanded during his unsuccessful expedition of 1818-1819. John Ross was not immediately recognized by the crew of his native ship - he was considered dead two years ago, and the "Isabella" was sent in search of the missing expedition. From the mouth of the team, travelers heard the most incredible information about the circumstances and the place of their death.
Upon arrival at home, both Ross were honored with great honors and recognition of their merits.
During 1835–1838 Captain James Ross was searching for whalers in the ice of the Baffin Sea, magnetic surveys of Great Britain and Ireland, performed on the instructions of the Admiralty.
In 1839, Ross led an expedition on the ships "Erebus" and "Terror", which was intended to conduct magnetic research and geographical discoveries in the Antarctic seas. The commander of the "Terror" was F. R. M. Crozier. The expedition was able to detect a vast continent located beyond an ice barrier 150 feet high, and to reach 78° 10'S. At 77° 32'S and 167°E, among the eternal ice and snow, they discovered an active volcano with a height of 12,400 feet, which was given the name "Mount Erebus", and the territory in which it is located - Victoria Land. The expedition conducted extensive zoological, botanical, geological and meteorological research, as well as observations of terrestrial magnetism, and returned to England in September 1843. Proof of her excellent organization is the fact that in four years only three people died from accidents and one from an illness.
Shortly after his return, Ross received a nobility, and in France was presented to the Order of the Legion of Honor. In 1847 his book was published on an expedition to Antarctica.
In 1848, the search began for the missing expedition of J. Franklin, who set off for the Arctic in 1845 on the same famous ships, "Erebus" and "Terror". Neither in the Admiralty, nor among polar explorers there was a unity of opinion as to where to look for the ships of Franklin. The majority argued that Franklin would strictly adhere to the Admiralty's instruction, which prescribed the Lancaster, Barrow, Melville Straits and the south-west as the main route, and the reserve route - movement through the bd Wellington St to the north, where, according to the then existing ideas, could be ice-free sea. Others, and in particular old John Ross, argued the possibility of deviating from this route due to some circumstances. Dr. King, a member of the expedition of J. Back in 1833 to the mouth of the Big Fish River, submitted to the Admiralty a project of a rescue expedition there, in fact, with absolute accuracy, he guessed the place of the tragedy. It was supported only by F. Beachy, who considered it useful to send the bot down this river. But the Admiralty did not give King the answer. James Ross expressed the authoritative opinion that Franklin would under no circumstances go to the mouth of Big Fish, but would rather go to the mouth of Mackenzie.
The Admiralty decided to send three search expeditions. Commodore Moore’s sea party and captain G. Kellett had to go from the Bering Strait, J. Richardson’s land from the south to the Mackenzie estuary, and Ross’s sea from the Baffin Sea across the Lancaster Strait. This decision, as it later became clear, determined the fate of the people of Franklin. If in 1848 King had gone down Bolshaya Rybnoy, he might have met people who were slowly dragging to the south, exhausted from hunger and cold by people from “Terror” and “Erebus”. At least someone would be saved, and we would have eyewitnesses to all that happened. However, what happened happened.
Ross went on two vessels, Enterprise (Enterprise) and Explorer (Investigator), with him were later famous thanks to the search for Franklin R. McClure and F. McClinthok. The Enterprise and the Researcher were vessels of the same class and quality as the "Erebus" and "Terror", but noticeably larger. They played a prominent role in the Franklin expeditions.
The instruction given to Ross by the Admiralty prescribed a survey of a vast area. They had to go through the Lancaster and Barrow Straits to the Wellington Strait, examine it and divide. One ship had to go to about. Melville and on to   Banks Island, reaching them, create several search teams, explore the island of Victoria and reach the mouth of the Mackenzie. The second ship was intended to go south and get up for the winter in a place from where you can get to the Butiya Peninsula by sleigh. Great hopes were pinned on Ross’s expedition.
They left England on June 12, 1848 and a month later reached the northernmost Danish colony in Greenland, Upernivik. The passage to the western coast of the Baffin Sea was very difficult. In the Lancaster Strait entered only at the end of August, a month later than Franklin.  Barrow Strait was clogged with ice, so they got up to winter near the northeast tip of Somerset Island at the place where the Barrow (west), Lancaster (east), Wellington (north) and Prince Regent (south) straits meet. As it turned out, from their wintering to the first wintering place of Franklin was no more than 100 miles to the north-west.
Polar explorers built a winter home, and with the onset of daylight, they made sledding trips. Ross invented a variety of non-standard ways to alert you about your whereabouts and searches. He released foxes caught, providing them with copper plates with text, wrote in huge letters on the rocks, everywhere he left boards with inscriptions, threw cylinders with notes into the sea. Sanny routes up and down unsuccessfully examined about. Somerset. In place of their wintering, just in case, they left an annual supply of food, equipment and fuel.
It was possible to get rid of ice only at the very end of August. Four days crossed the  Lancaster Strait, trying to enter the Wellington Strait: they, as it turned out, were in close proximity to one of the goals of their search. Severe frost bound the ships, and the ice fields carried them into the Baffin Sea. They managed to free themselves, but it was too late to go into the Lancaster Strait. Of the two options: wintering in the Baffin Sea or returning home, Ross, given the poor condition of the crew, chose the latter.
It is clear that the failure was determined solely by the severe ice conditions in 1848–1849. However, in England, polar explorers became targets for attacks and accusations. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Ross’s return almost coincided with the sending of an auxiliary vessel to him, indicating in no case should the search continue until 1850. The auxiliary vessel, not having found Ross, was wintering Baffin in the sea.
The failure was complete - an expensive expedition, as contemporaries believed, ended in nothing.
James Ross did a great deal to study the polar regions of the Earth and was honored with numerous honors for his merits. He was a member of a number of scientific societies, had an honorary degree at the University of Oxford, and received gold medals from the London and Paris Geographical Societies. In 1856 he was given the rank of Rear Admiral.
The failure of the search expedition seriously affected the moral and physical condition of Ross. He no longer participated in the Arctic campaigns.
In 1857, his wife died.
Died in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Buried with his wife at the local cemetery in Eston Abbey of the parish of Aylesbury Vale. In the gardens of the abbey there is a lake with two islands, named after the ships "Terror" and "Erebus".

The island north of the island of Northeastern Land, Svalbard. The coordinates are 80° 49.5'N   20° 20.5'E.

Cape (James Ross) in the southwest of Melville Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Cape in the southeast of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

A bay on the northeast coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the river that flows into it.
Strait between King William Island and the Boothia Peninsula in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

 

Return to the main page