History Archive > A Voyage of Discovery (1819)

A voyage of discovery : made under the orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty's ships Isabella and Alexander, for the purpose of exploring Baffin's Bay, and inquiring into the probability of a North-West Passage.


Date: 1819



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Ross, John. A Voyage of Discovery. London : John Murray, Albemarle-Street. 1819.


Ross, John (1819) A Voyage of Discovery. London : John Murray, Albemarle-Street.


Ross, John, A Voyage of Discovery. London : John Murray, Albemarle-Street. 1819.


Sir John Ross was a famous British rear-admiral and Arctic explorer who was given the command of an Arctic expedition fitted out by the Admiralty, the first of a new series of attempts to solve the question of a North-West passage.

As his lieutenants, Ross had aboard William Parry, James Clark Ross, and Edward Sabine, all of future fame as explorers. Ross attempted to proceed westward through Lancaster Sound, but being deceived, presumably by a mirage, he described the passage as barred by a range of mountains, which he named the Croker Mountains, despite the disbelief of his colleagues.

On returning to England in November, the report was, at first, accepted as conclusive, and Ross was promoted to post rank in December, 1818. In the following year he published this volume. A controversy soon arose which called Ross' courage into question and opened a life-long quarrel between him and Sir John Barrow" (Hill I:261).

The voyage of John Ross into Baffin's Bay in 1818 was a pioneering effort in high Arctic exploration, and his narrative, published the following year, was the finest series of Arctic views then published.

One of the most striking plates was based not on the work of an English officer but of the expedition's Inuit interpreter, John Sackheouse, depicting the successful meeting between the expedition and Inuits at Prince Regent's Bay, certainly the earliest representational work by a native American artist to be so reproduced. (Beinecke Library).


Abbey Travel 634. Cooke & Holland, 139. Arctic Bibliography 14873. Hill 1488. Sabin 73376. Prideaux, 255, 350.

1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 23 pg. 740

John Carter Brown Library

List of Images

0. A Voyage of Discovery (1819) - Book Display

1. A Voyage of Discovery (1819) - Title Page

2. A General Chart Shewing the Track and Discoveries of H.M. Ships Isabella & Alexander to Davis's Straits & Baffin's Bay

3. Gardie House, the Residence of William Mouat Esq.

4. Passage Through the Ice - June 16th, 1818

5. A Remarkable Iceberg. Lat. 70' 45 N. June 17, 1818.

6. Island of Disco and Icebergs

7. Kallie, a Woman of Greenland. Native of Oppernivick. Lat. 73 N. an inhabitant of N.E. Bay.

8. A Remarkable Iceberg. July, 1818. Lat. 74. & Long 65. W.

9. Crews of the Isabella and Alexander, Sawing a passage through the Ice.

10. Cape Melville and Melville's Monument

11. Perilous situation of the Isabella and Alexander, Aug 7th, 1818.

12. First Communications with the Natives of Prince Regents Bay, as Drawn by John Sackheouse, and Presented to Capt. Ross, Augt. 10, 1818.

13. Arctic Highlander / Ervick, a Native of Prince Regents Bay. Lat. 76.12. N. Long. 65. W.

14. [left] Marshuik. [right] Meigack. Arctic Highlanders, Natives of Lat. 77 North Long. 65 West.

15. A Bone Sled, Dog Ship, Spear, and Knife of the Arctic Highlanders

16. Plan of the Part of Baffins Bay which was found to be Inhabited

17. Crimson Cliffs. A View of the Coloured Snow in Lat. 76. 25 N. & Long. 68. W.

18. Petoowack. Formation of an Iceberg

19. View of the Islands in Wolstenholme Sound

20. Coburg Bay, Cape Leopold & Princess Charlottes Monument

21. Cape Byam Martin, Possession Mount, and Cape Fanshaw, discovered Sept 1st, 1818 by H.M.S Isabella

22. Sir George Hope's Monument and Land, on the North side of Lancaster Bay

23. Lancaster Sound, as seen from H.M.S. Isabella

24. Track of H.M. Ships Isabella and Alexander

25. Views of Land in Davis Strait and Baffin's Bay

26. A Sledge Dog of the Arctic Highlander of Lat. 77. N.

27. Head of a White Bear

28. A Bear Plunging into the Sea

29. Xeme

30. Meteorological Register of His Majesty's Ship Isabella [May-Oct]

31. Meteorological Register of His Majesty's Ship Isabella [June-July]

32. Meteorological Register of His Majesty's Ship Isabella [Aug-Sept]

33. Coastal Views [I]

34. Coastal Views [II]

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