Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Crozier, Francis Rawdon Moira, Captain, R.N., a distinguished arctic voyager, was born at Banbridge, September 1796. He entered the navy as a first-class volunteer on the Hamadryad, 12th June 1810, served in the Pacific, at the Cape of Good Hope, and elsewhere, and was appointed Mid shipman, June 1812. He sailed with Captain Party on three of his arctic voyages — in the Fury in 1821, in the Hecla in 1824, and again in the Hecla, as Lieutenant, in 1827. After some years' home service, he was despatched to Davis's Strait and Baffin's Bay, in search of missing whalers, and after his return was appointed Commander in 1837. From May 1839 he was absent some years in command of the Terror, in the expedition under Captain Ross, upon a voyage of discovery in the Antarctic Ocean. During this period he was promoted to post-rank. On 26th May 1845 he sailed in command of the Terror, in company with Sir John Franklin, who commanded the expedition, in the Erebus, in search of the North-west Passage. The crews were picked, and the ships were as strong as art could make them, and well found in every respect. They were last seen by a whaler, on the 26th July, in Baffin's Bay, progressing favourably. In the autumn of 1847 anxiety began to be manifested for the safety of the explorers. Expedition after expedition (some twenty in all) was sent in quest of them — not alone by the United Kingdom, but by France and the United States. In August 1850 traces of the missing ships were discovered, and it was ascertained that their first winter had been spent behind Beechey Island, where they had remained at least as late as April 1846. No further tidings were obtained until the spring of 1854, when Dr. Rae learned from the Esquimaux, that in 1850 about forty white men had been seen dragging a boat over the ice near the north shore of King William's Island, and that later on the bodies of the whole party, dead of cold and starvation, had been found by the natives, on Montreal Island, at the mouth of the Fish River.

On 30th June 1857 Captain M'Clintock was despatched in the Fox, fitted out by Lady Franklin and a number of subscribers. He was absent two years. In May 1859, one of M'Clintock's sledge parties discovered the following document (of which a facsimile is given in M'Clintock's Narrative of the Fox) under a cairn near Cape Herschel: "28th May 1847. H. M. ships Erebus and Terror wintered in the ice in lat. 70o 5' N., long. 98o 23' W. Having wintered in 1846-'7 [correctly 1845-'6] at Beechey Island, in lat. 74o 43' 28" N., long. 91o 39' 15" W., after having ascended Wellington Channel to lat. 77o, and returned by the west side of Cornwallis Island. Sir John Franklin commanding the expedition. All well. Party consisting of 2 officers and 6 men, left the ships on Monday, 24th May 1847, Gm. Gore, Lieutenant., Charles F. Des Voeux, Mate." Round the margin these words are added: "[part torn off] 1848. H. M. ships Terror and Erebus were deserted on the 22nd April, five leagues N.N.W. of this, having been beset since 12th September 1846. The officers and crews, consisting of 105 souls, under the command of Captain F. R. M. Crozier, landed here in lat. 69o 37' 42" N., long. 98o 41' W. This paper was found by Lieutenant Irving under the cairn supposed to have been built by Sir James Ross in 1831, four miles to the northward, where it had been deposited by the late Commander Gore in June 1847. Sir James Ross' pillar has not, however, been found, and the paper has been transferred to this position, which is that in which Sir James Ross' pillar was erected. Sir John Franklin died on the 11th June 1847; and the total loss by deaths in the expedition has been to this date, 9 officers and 15 men. F. R. M. Crozier, Captain and senior officer — and start (on) to-morrow, 26th, for Back's Fish River. James FitzJames, Captain, H.M.S. Erebus."

Two days later a boat was discovered, with two skeletons and guns and portions of books and plate that had belonged to the ill-fated expedition. This is the last that was ever ascertained concerning Captain Crozier and his brave companions. All must have perished of hunger and exhaustion.—

"The arctic clouds uplift
A moment, and no more,
And through the snowy drift,
We see them on the shore:
"A band of gallant hearts.
Well ordered, calm, and brave,
Braced for their closing parts—
Their long march to the grave."—Punch.

M'Clintock named the extreme west point of King William's Island, "Cape Crozier." Sir Roderick Murchison agrees with M'Clintock and others in affirming that "Franklin and his followers secured the honour for which they died-that of being the first discoverers of the North-west Passage." Captain Crozier's fellow townsmen have erected a fine monument to his memory.

Sources

124. Encyclopaedia Britannica. London, 1860.

226a. McClintock, Captain: Voyage of the Fox in the Arctic Seas. London, 1859.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

253. Naval, Biographical Dictionary of Living, Officers: William R. O'Byrne. London, 1849.

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