Admiral Sir Edward Belcher's 1852-54 expedition to rescue Sir John Franklin was the last official British attempt to rescue the crew of Franklin's lost and final expedition. On the HMS Assistance, Belcher successfully navigated through the Wellington Channel, but was unable to return to Lancaster Sound due to ice floes and was forced to abandon the ship. The present account of the expedition also includes essays on the natural history of the region by Richardson, Owen, Bell, Salter and Reeve.

Belcher describes his passage through Wellington Channel and the discovery of Exmouth and North Cornwall Islands and the channel leading to Jones Sound. He also describes his meeting and rescue of Commander Robert McClure of the HMS Investigator on northern Banks Island. His decision to abandon four ships frozen in the ice in Wellington Channel in 1854 led to his court-martial, although he was later acquitted. Belcher became an admiral in 1872.

This was the last British government sponsored expedition to search for Sir John Franklin, the rest being private. The narrative describes the expedition in detail including the weather, snow conditions, food, ice, scurvy, optical phenomena, natural history, hunting, fishing, etc. The Appendices include an account of the fishes by John Richardson, fossils by T. W. Salter and Sir R. Owen, shells by l. Reeve, Crustacea by T. Bell. This important expedition to the Arctic was the first to use photography although none were published in the book.

Octavo, two volumes, original publisher's dark-blue cloth cover with gilt titles. 8vo; [xx], 383pp.; [vii], 419pp

Each volume has a lithographed frontispiece and overall illustrated with 36 chromolithograph plates, charts, 3 folding maps and 2 additional maps in rear cover pocket.


Abbey Travel 645. Hill p. 21. National Maritime Museum Catalogue I, 921. Sabin 4389. TPL 3409. Arctic Bibliography 1241.

Publisher: London : Lovell Reeve




University of Toronto


ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-03-31

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Map Name
The Last of the Arctic Voyages Vol. 1 - Plan of Northumberland South, Prince Albert Island (1855)
The Last of the Arctic Voyages Vol. 1 - Plan of the Port of Lievely, Greenland (1855)
The Last of the Arctic Voyages Vol. 1 - Chart of the Discoveries in the Arctic Sea from Behring Strait to Baffins Bay 1819-1854 (1855)

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