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Frederick William Beechey

(1796—1856) naval officer and hydrographer


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(1796–1856), British explorer of the North Pacific, the Arctic, and Africa. The son of the artist Sir William Beechey, Frederick William Beechey entered the British Royal Navy as a first class volunteer in 1806 at the age of ten, and he served aboard the Vengeur during the action at New Orleans. He was appointed lieutenant in HMS Trent, commanded by Lieutenant John Franklin, in an attempt to reach the North Pole in company with the Dorothea, under Captain David Buchan, in 1818. Like Captain Constantine John Phipps in 1773 on a similar mission, the ships were unable to navigate much beyond 80° N latitude, at the edge of the heavy multiyear ice, thus finding no proof of the existence of a supposed open polar sea. Captain Buchan wrote no narrative, and it fell to Beechey to do so years later. His Voyage of Discovery towards the North Pole, Performed in HMS “Dorothea” and “Trent,” in 1818 was published in 1843. As first lieutenant of HMS Hecla, Beechey took part in the remarkably successful Northwest Passage voyage of 1819–1820, commanded by Lieutenant W. E. Parry, wintering at Melville Island, where he was manager of the “Royal Arctic Theatre.” In 1821–1822, Beechey made an overland survey with his brother Henry of the north African coast eastward from Tripoli in cooperation with HMS Adventure, under Captain W. H. Smyth.

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From The Oxford Companion to World Exploration in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.


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