Sir James Clark Ross

Sir James Clark Ross, naval officer, polar discoverer (b at London, Eng 15 Apr 1800; d at Aylesbury, Eng 13 Apr 1862).

Ross gained his first arctic experience at age 18, serving with his uncle Sir John ROSS in a search for a NORTHWEST PASSAGE from Baffin Bay to Bering Strait. He accompanied William Edward PARRY as an officer in 1819, 1821 and 1824, and as second-in-command of Parry's expedition to reach the NORTH POLE in 1827. Ross was by this time the most experienced officer in arctic matters, an authority on magnetism and a good naturalist and taxidermist.

He was on half pay when his uncle invited him to accompany his privately funded expedition to attempt the Northwest Passage in 1829. During the winter of 1829-30 he made a series of land expeditions on sleds which proved that BOOTHIA was a peninsula. He crossed what is now called James Ross Strait to Victory Point and reached KING WILLIAM ISLAND. On 1 June 1831 he discovered the MAGNETIC POLE on the west coast of Boothia peninsula, set up the British flag and erected a cairn.

He was later engaged to conduct a magnetic survey of the British Isles and in 1839 commanded an Antarctic expedition, spending 3 years studying magnetism and adding to the geographical knowledge of the region.

In 1848 he commanded the first expedition in the search for Sir John FRANKLIN. He discovered and surveyed Peel Sound but found no trace of the missing explorer. He was made a rear-admiral in 1856.

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