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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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Best, George (c. 1555–1584), explorer, was the son of Robert Best and Anne Bowman, married at Merstham in 1548. He learned much about geography from his father who worked as an interpreter for the Muscovy Company in London, having escorted the first Russian ambassador to ...

Article

Billings, Joseph (1758–1806), explorer and hydrographer in Russia, was born in 1758 at Turnham Green, Middlesex, according to ship musters; parish church registers confirm the birth of Joseph, son of Thomas and Mary Billing, on 6 September 1758. Billings's signed Russian service record, however, gives 1761 as the year of his birth. Other sources indicate that ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Booth, Sir Felix, first baronet (1780–1850), distiller and promoter of Arctic exploration, was born on 3 June 1780, the youngest son of Philip Booth, a distiller of 55 Turnmill Street, Clerkenwell, London, and his wife, Elizabeth Wallis, who had in all three sons and three daughters. ...

Article

Borough, Stephen (1525–1584), explorer and naval administrator, was born on 25 September 1525 at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon, the elder son of Walter Borough (1494–1548) and Mary Dough; his younger brother was William Borough (d. 1598).

With his uncle, John Borough (d. 1570)...

Article

Bowers, Henry Robertson [Birdie] (1883–1912), polar explorer, was born at Greenock on 29 July 1883, the youngest of the three children of Alexander Bowers, a naval captain and independent merchantman, and his wife, Emily, née Webb. His father died on the Mergui archipelago, Burma...

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William Speirs Bruce (1867–1921) by unknown photographer reproduced by permission of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Article

Bruce, William Speirs (1867–1921), polar scientist and explorer, was born at 43 Kensington Gardens Square, Paddington, London, on 1 August 1867. He was the fourth child of a family of eight children and had one younger brother and six sisters. His father, Samuel Noble Bruce MRCS...

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Frederick Spencer Chapman (1907–1971) by Howard Coster, 1939 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Article

Chapman, Frederick Spencer (1907–1971), explorer and mountaineer, was born on 10 May 1907 at Kensington, London, the younger son and younger child of Frank Spencer Chapman, solicitor, of Oakwood Court, Kensington, and his wife, Winifred Ormond, who died within a month of the birth. She was the daughter of ...

Article

J. K. Laughton

revised by Andrew Lambert

Collinson, Sir Richard (1811–1883), naval officer and explorer, was born on 7 November 1811 at Gateshead, co. Durham, where his father, the Revd John Collinson (c.1791–1857), was rector. His mother was Amelia, née King (b. 1783), daughter of the philanthropist ...

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James Cook (1728–1779) by Nathaniel Dance, 1776 © National Maritime Museum, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection

Article

Andrew C. F. David

Cook, James (1728–1779), explorer, was born on 27 October 1728 in the village of Marton in Cleveland, North Riding of Yorkshire, the son of James Cook (1694–1779), a day labourer, and his wife, Grace Pace (1701/2–1765).

Article

F. S. Chapman

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Courtauld, Augustine (1904–1959), Arctic explorer, was born on 26 August 1904 at Bocking, Braintree, Essex, the eldest child of Samuel Augustine Courtauld (1865–1953), a director of the family textile firm, and his wife, Edith Anne (Edian) Lister (d. 1951), daughter of Walter Venning Lister...

Article

Crean, Thomas [Tom] (1877–1938), polar explorer, was born at Gurtuchrane, Anascaul, co. Kerry, on 20 July 1877, one of the ten children of Patrick Crean, farmer, and his wife, Catherine Courtney. He grew up speaking both Gaelic and English. Educated at Brackluin School, Anascaul...

Article

Croft, (Noel) Andrew Cotton (1906–1998), army officer and Arctic explorer, was born on 30 November 1906 at Abbey Cottage, Essex Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, the only son and fourth child of the Revd Robert William Croft, curate of Stevenage, and his wife, Lottie Alice Bland Clayton...

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Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier (1796–1848) by unknown photographer, 1845 © National Maritime Museum, London

Article

Crozier, Francis Rawdon Moira (1796–1848), naval officer and polar explorer, was born on 17 September 1796 at Banbridge, co. Down, Ireland, the son of George Crozier (d. 1831), lawyer. He was the fifth son in the family and had at least two sisters. It seems probable that he was related to ...

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Frank Debenham (1883–1965) by Herbert George Ponting, 1911 © Popperfoto