Capt. Parry, R.N.

Tags: Military & Naval.
Capt. Parry, R.N.
Hover your mouse over to magnify
A rare and interesting portrait of the arctic explorer Sir William Edward Parry (1790-55). He stands half length, wearing civilian clothes, with his ship H.M.S. Hecla sailing in the background. Beneath is text in italian. Parry made four voyages to the arctic, proving during the first voyage that the fabled North West Passage was not blocked by land, heading and expedition across the ice from Melville Island to Banks Land. His discoveries ensured that he was promoted to the rank of commander and from ‘the Bath and West of England Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce’ he received a gold medal, and a silver vase of the value of five hundred guineas; he was presented also with the freedom of his native town of Bath and of many others. The following February he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; and with the officers and men of the expedition, he received the parliamentary grant previously offered as a reward for those who should first pass the meridian of 110° W. within the arctic circle. He was entrusted with the command of a third expedition in the Hecla, accompanied by the Fury, which sailed from Deptford on 8 May 1824, and, again attempting the passage by Lancaster Sound, wintered at Port Bowen. On 30th July 1825 both ships were forced ashore in Prince Regent's Inlet, and, though they were got off, it was found necessary to abandon the Fury. All the men were got on board the Hecla, but there was no room for the stores, and Parry considered it unsafe to make a longer stay. He accordingly returned to England, and on 22nd Nov. was confirmed as hydrographer to the admiralty. In 1829 after yet another voyage to the arctic, he was knighted. He retired in 1837, and after various appointments became Captain-Superintendent of Haslar Hospital from 1846 - 1852, when he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral. In the latter part of 1853 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital. His health failed in 1854 and in the summer of 1855 he went for medical treatment to Ems, where he died on 8th July. His body was brought back to Greenwich, and buried there in the Hospital Mausoleum.