Beechey, Frederick William, 1796-1856

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1806 joined the Royal Navy; 1806-1814 served in the Napoleonic Wars; 1814 appointed to the Tonnant, flagship of Sir Alexander Cochrane, commander-in-chief in North America; 1815 served in the boat operations on the lower Mississippi; 1815 lieutenant; 1818 appointed to the hired brig Trent, served on the Arctic expedition; 1819 appointed to the Hecla, served on a second voyage through the Arctic; 1821-1822 appointed to the survey ship, Adventure and participated in the survey of the north coast of Africa; 1822 commander; 1825 appointed to command the Blossom; 1827 captain; 1835-1836 appointed to command the Sulphur for the survey of the coast of South America; 1837-1847 appointed to survey the coast of Ireland; surveyed the River Severn to Worcester; 1850-1856 superintendent, the marine department of the Board of Trade; 1853 represented the hydrographer conference, Brussels; 1855-1856 president, the Royal Geographical Society; rear-admiral.

Epithet: naval officer, hydrographer and author

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000411.0x000366

Frederick William Beechey was born on 17 February 1796 in London, son of the well-known artist Sir William Beechey. In 1806, he entered the Navy, later participating in the attack on New Orleans in 1815, for which he was promoted lieutenant later in the same year. In 1818, he was appointed lieutenant in HMS Trent on the British Naval North Polar Expedition (leader David Buchan), organized by the Admiralty in an unsuccessful attempt to seek a passage from Svalbard by way of the North Pole to Bering Strait and the Pacific Ocean. Beechey wrote an account of the expedition in Voyage of discovery towards the North Pole (1843), in which his sketches of Arctic scenery were reproduced. In 1819, he was appointed lieutenant in HMS Hecla on the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1819-1820 (leader William Edward Parry), sent by the Admiralty to seek a Northwest Passage through Lancaster Sound in the Canadian Arctic. Beechey's sketches of the Arctic landscape were later published in Parry's personal narrative Journal of a voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage (1821).

Between 1821 and 1822, Beechey was attached to a survey of the north coast of Africa, an account of which he later published with his brother Henry William, a civilian member of the expedition. Promoted commander in 1822, he was appointed to lead the British Naval Exploring Expedition, 1825-1828, instructed by the Admiralty to await the arrival of the expeditions of Parry and Sir John Franklin, and to conduct exploratory and scientific work in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Strait. Setting sail from Spithead in HMS Blossom in May 1825, the expedition reached Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in June 1826 where Beechey learned that Parry's expedition had already returned home. The following month, the expedition proceeded to Chamisso Island in Alaska from where an advance party reached Point Barrow on 23 August, missing Franklin, who had come within 300 kilometres of Point Barrow, by only five days. After wintering in the Pacific, Beechey sailed north to the Bering Strait in the summer of 1827, but finding no trace of Franklin, returned to England by way of Cape Horn. Although the expedition was unsuccessful in obtaining any information about Franklin's progress, many islands in the Pacific were charted and a detailed survey was conducted of the northwest coast of Alaska from the north of Norton Sound to Point Barrow.

Promoted captain in 1827, Beechey was later appointed by the Admiralty to survey the coasts of South America and Ireland. From 1850, he was appointed by the Board of Trade to superintend and organize the Mercantile Marine. Promoted rear admiral in 1854, he was elected president of the Royal Geographical Society the following year, a post he held until his death on 29 November 1856 in London.

Published work Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait to co-operate with the polar expeditions, performed in His Majesty's Ship Blossom, under the command of Captain F.W. Beechey ... in the years 1825-1826-1827-1828 by Frederick William Beechey, Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, London (1831) SPRI Library Special Collection (3)91(08)[1825-1828 Beechey], A voyage of discovery toward the North Pole, performed in His Majesty's ships Dorothea and Trent, under the command of Captain David Buchan, R.N., 1818... by Frederick William Beechey, Bentley London (1843) SPRI Library Shelf (32)91(08)[1818 Buchan]

From the guide to the Frederick William Beechey collection, 1831-1849, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sir John Franklin collection, 1801-1845 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Great Britain. Admiralty. Correspondence [microform], 1826-1852. Washington Library Network
referencedIn Richard Beechey collection, 1826 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Crawley, John, fl. 1825. Log book [manuscript]. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Bassett Jones (collector) records, 1818-1938. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Clifford, Herbert John. Journal of a voyage to the Island of Lieu-chew, Japan Sea, 1816 : [xeroxed manuscript]. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
referencedIn Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. John James Audubon letters 1828-1846. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Edward Belcher collection, 1827-1854 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Sir Francis Leopold McClintock collection, 1848-1903 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Edward Adams collection, 1848-1851 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Frederick William Beechey collection, 1831-1849 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Frederick William Beechey collection, 1831-1849 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Vol. IX. (III. ff. 409). 1. "Captain [Richard] Collinson, C.B., H.M. Discovery Ship 'Enterprize,' 1850"; 15 Jan. 1850-5 June, 1875: including (ff. 55-59) the printed and written notices left in the Arctic regions by previous explorers end found by Ca..., 1849-1892 British Library
referencedIn Vol. V. 1815-1844.Martha Honora Georgina Jervis, called Lady Jervis, daughter of Captain W H Ricketts-Jervis, RN, wife of O Markham and Sir W Cockburn, Baronet: Letters to: 1815-1844.includes:f. 130 Voyages and Travels: Letter on the expedition to di..., 1815-1844 British Library
referencedIn Alexander Marcet collection, 1818 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Vol. LII ( ff. 342 ). 13 Jan. 1827-14 Mar. 1833.includes:f. 1 George Colman, the younger; dramatist: Agreement with H. Colburn: 1827.: Signed.ff. 1-20 passim, 46 Henry Colburn, publisher: Agreements with authors: 1827-1829.: Mostly signed.f. 3 ... British Library
referencedIn Robert McClure collection, 1845-1855 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Vol. I. (ff. 519). A-Be.includes:ff. 1-7 Comm. Jonas Archer Abbott, RN: Biographical notes: 1844-1845. ff. 8-12 Lieutenant William Absolon, RN: Biographical notes: 1844. f. 13 Lieutenant Charles Henry Ackerley, RN: Note concerning: circ. 1844. f. 13 ... British Library
creatorOf Beechey, Frederick William, 1796-1856. Biography [manuscript]. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Dorothea Lynde Dix papers, 1798-1893 (inclusive), 1827-1887 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Vol. I (ff. 270). A -G.includes:f. 1 George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen; formerly Gordon; Prime Minister: Letter to A. Panizzi: 1856. f. 3 William Harrison Ainsworth, alias 'Cheviot Ticheburn'; novelist: Letter to A. Jones: 1840. f. 4 Ge... British Library
creatorOf Beechey, Frederick William, 1796-1856. [Letter, 1833 Sept. 10, London, to Cesar Moreau, Paris] [manuscript]. Libraries Australia
creatorOf Beaufort, Francis, Sir, 1774-1857. Letter to Frederick William Beechey, 1836, February 4. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Vol. XC ( ff. 325 ). June 1829-[ 1837 -1838? ].includes:f. 1 John Galt, novelist: Letter to, and business transactions with H. Colburn and R. Bentley: 1830-1831.: Mostly signed.f. 2 John Galt, novelist: Letter to, and agreement with R. Bentley:... British Library
referencedIn Wolfe, James, 1807-1848. Journal of a Voyage of Discovery in the Pacific and Beering's Straits : on board H.M.S. Blossom / by James Wolfe, 1825-1828. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn James Wolfe collection, 1825-1828 Scott Polar Research Institute
referencedIn Dorothea Lynde Dix papers, 1798-1893 (inclusive), 1827-1887 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn ABERDEEN PAPERS. Vol. CLXXVI (ff. 316). Correspondence of the Hon. Sir Robert Gordon as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Brazil with:-(1) (a) George Canning, and (b) John William Ward, 4th Viscount Dudley and Ward, Earl of Dudley ..., 1826-1828 British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Edward person
associatedWith Alexander John Gaspard Marcet person
associatedWith Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. person
associatedWith Beaufort, Francis, Sir, 1774-1857. person
associatedWith Beechey Frederick William 1796-1856 person
associatedWith Beechey, George Duncan, 1797-1852, portrait painter person
associatedWith Beechey, Henry William, approximately 1788-1862, painter and explorer person
associatedWith Beechey, Richard Brydges, 1808-1895, marine painter, naval officer and surveyor person
associatedWith Beechey, William, Sir, 1753-1839, portrait painter person
associatedWith Belcher, Edward person
associatedWith British Naval Exploring Expedition Alaska 1825-1828 corporateBody
associatedWith British Naval Franklin Search Expedition Canada 1848-1849 corporateBody
associatedWith British Naval North Polar Expedition Svalbard - Arctic Ocean 1818 corporateBody
associatedWith British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition Canada 1819-1820 corporateBody
associatedWith British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition Canada 1845-1848 corporateBody
associatedWith Clifford, Herbert John. person
associatedWith Crawley, John, fl. 1825. person
correspondedWith Dix, Dorothea Lynde, 1802-1887 person
associatedWith Franklin John 1786-1847 person
correspondedWith Great Britain. Admiralty. corporateBody
associatedWith Jones, Bassett, collector. person
associatedWith Moreau, Cesar person
associatedWith Richard Brydges Beechey person
associatedWith Robert John Le Mesurier McClure person
associatedWith Ross James Clark 1800-1862 person
associatedWith Sir Francis Leopold McClintock person
associatedWith Sir John Franklin person
associatedWith Société de Statistique Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Wolfe, James person
associatedWith Wolfe, James, 1807-1848. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Great Britain
Point Barrow, North America
Arctic regions Discovery and exploration


Birth 1796-02-17

Death 1856-11-29





Ark ID: w6n58zp1

SNAC ID: 66523708