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Balleny, John (b. c. 1770, d. in or after 1842), merchant navy officer and Antarctic discoverer, was born c.1770 but nothing is known about his early life and education. He may have been a Londoner, brought up in the Newcastle coal trade. From 1798, when he was living in the parish of ...

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A. G. E. Jones

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Biscoe, John (bap. 1794, d. 1843), merchant navy officer and explorer, was baptized in Enfield on 28 June 1794, the third son and youngest child of Thomas Biscoe of Waltham Abbey and his wife, Ann Tibbs. Nothing is known of his early years, but on leaving school he became a clerk. On 11 March 1812 he volunteered for the ...

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Drake, Sir Francis (1540–1596), pirate, sea captain, and explorer, was born about February or March 1540 in Crowndale, near Tavistock, Devon, the eldest of five known children of Edmund Drake (d. 1566) of Tavistock. Edmund's wife is unknown, though she may have been named ...

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Sir Francis Drake (1540–1596) by Jodocus Hondius? © Copyright The British Museum

Article

Frobisher, Sir Martin (1535?–1594), privateer, explorer, and naval commander, was descended from John Frobisher (b. c.1260), a Scot settled in lands near Chirk in Denbighshire granted in recognition of his services to Edward I during the Welsh wars. In the mid-fourteenth century the family crossed the ...

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Sir Martin Frobisher (1535?–1594) by Cornelius Ketel, 1577 © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Article

Gosnold, Bartholomew (d. 1607), sea captain and explorer, was the elder son of a Suffolk gentleman, Anthony Gosnold of Grundisburgh, Clopton, and Burgh, and Dorothy Bacon, a kinswoman of the lord keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon. Bartholomew is first recorded on 20 October 1572 when his great-grandfather ...

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Keymis [Kemys], Lawrence (1564/5–1618), mariner and explorer, was born in Wiltshire and entered Balliol College, Oxford, in 1581 at the age of sixteen. He graduated BA in 1584 and held a junior bursarship in 1585–6, when his admission of liability for unpaid bills and uncollected battels amounting to over ...

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Laird, Macgregor (1808–1861), shipbuilder and explorer, was born in Greenock, the younger son of William Laird, founder of the Birkenhead firm of shipbuilders, and Agnes Macgregor; he was the brother of John Laird. On leaving school in Edinburgh he was given a partnership in the business by his father....

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Paterson, Daniel (1738–1825), compiler of road books and cartographer, was born on 11 or 17 December 1738, calculated from his age at death according to whether the reform of the calendar is taken into account. He was gazetted ensign in the 30th foot...

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Smith, William (1790–1847), merchant navy officer and Antarctic explorer, was born on 11 October 1790 in Seaton Sluice, Northumberland, the elder child of William Smith, joiner, of Seaton Sluice, and his wife, Mary Sharpe, of Earsdon, Northumberland. Nothing is known about his early years and education but he was probably apprenticed aged fourteen to the east coast coal trade. In 1811 he became owner and master of the ...

Article

J. K. Laughton

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Snow, William Parker (1817–1895), mariner and explorer, son of a naval officer, was born at Poole, Dorset, on 27 November 1817. His father died in 1826, leaving the family ill provided for; his mother took the family to Jersey and Normandy, leaving William...

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Joseph Wiggins (1832–1905) by Lavender © National Portrait Gallery, London

Article

O. J. R. Howarth

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Wiggins, Joseph (1832–1905), Arctic explorer and merchant navy officer, born at Norwich on 3 September 1832, was the son of Joseph Wiggins (d. 1843) and his wife, Anne Petty (d. 1847). The father, a driver and later proprietor of coaches serving the ...

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R. N. Rudmose Brown

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Young, Sir Allen William (1827–1915), merchant navy officer and polar explorer, was born at Twickenham on 12 December 1827, the son of Henry Young, of Riverdale, Twickenham. After being educated at home he joined the merchant service in 1842 and rose quickly. During the Crimean War he transferred from the ...

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Sir Allen William Young (1827–1915) by Stephen Pearce, 1876 © National Portrait Gallery, London