The Polar Rosses: John and James Clark Ross and their Explorations.

The Ross family of Uncle and Nephew could be called the dominant English explorers of the first half of the nineteenth century, despite the enmity which John Ross inspired from Sir John Barrow, the kingpin of the Royal Navy’s Arctic and Antarctic aspirations. John Ross was only engaged in the Arctic, with one of the first expeditions seeking the Northwest Passage, and much later the beginnings of the Franklin Search. James Clark Ross, on the other hand, was on his uncle’s first expedition, served with Parry on subsequent voyages, but is chiefly remembered for his command of the British Antarctic Expedition of 1838 to 1842, a long and important voyage bracketed for James Clark by Arctic expeditions. Among their achievements he can claim to have found both Magnetic Poles.

p. 45: The Isabella, for example, carried no less than seven chronometers and an equal number of compasses of various makes. A good selection of published voyages to the northern regions, as well as reference books, were supplied for the officers’ use.

p. 97: Winter on North Georgia: “The long cold winter was enlivened by a shipboard newspaper, called the North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle, and by the theatrical productions at what was grandly called the Theatre Royal, North Georgia. [James Clark] Ross and the other young officers with rosy complexions, distinguished themselves in these plays by taking the female parts. On 8 December Ross played Corinna in ‘The Citizen’, on the 23rd he was Mrs. Bruin in ‘The Mayor of Garrett’ and Poll in ‘The North-West Passage; or, the Voyage Finished’; on another occasion he played Ann Lovely in an unnamed drama; he finally achieved a male part on 6 January 1820 playing Colonel Tivy in ‘Bon Ton; or, High Life Above Stairs’.”

p. 115, preparing for the 1829-32 voyage aboard Victory (which reached the North Magnetic Pole), John Ross’s “own two chronometers were supplemented by four others. Transit, theodolite, telescope, five sextants, two altitude instruments, four barometers, twelve thermometers, two dipping needles, several compasses, together with several instruments and books supplied by the Admiralty that had been used on other expeditions, provided everything necessary for surveys and observations.”

p. 133 wintering over in 1829-30: “The men dined at noon and after three or four o’clock everyone had to walk the deck beneath the roof for exercise. A volunteer school was set up from 6 to 9 p.m., providing instruction, in reading, writing, arithmetic, mathematics and navigation. Everyone attended. Three illiterate sailors provided a special challenge. Only Sunday school at 6 p.m. interrupted the day of rest.”

p. 212: visiting Governor Moody at the Falklands: “[Joseph Dalton] got on well with Moody, and was given the run of his library, but he mentions constant disagreement between Ross and the Governor.”