Constantine John Phipps

(1744—1792) naval officer and politician

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English explorer who led an expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Constantine John Phipps, later the second Lord Mulgrave, was an officer of the Royal Navy. His father was the first Lord Mulgrave and his mother was Mary Lepell, the eldest daughter of John, Lord Hervey. Phipps was educated at Eton at the same time as Joseph (later Sir Joseph) Banks, who sailed on Captain Cook's first circumnavigation and who was president of the Royal Society for almost a lifetime. In 1766, Phipps and Banks visited Newfoundland and Labrador in the Niger, the object of the voyage being to build a blockhouse. They assembled the first extensive and well-documented scientific collections from that region. Phipps continued his naval career, but he also pursued the arts of peace, amassing a fine library of nautical books and being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In 1773, he commanded HMS Racehorse and HMS Carcass (the latter under Captain Skeffington Lutwidge) during a voyage whose aim was to reach the North Pole. The theorists Samuel Engel (a Swiss geographer) and Daines Barrington (an English lawyer, naturalist, and antiquarian) believed that an ice-free sea might exist in the region of the North Pole, through which a passage could be found to the East Indies. Barrington persuaded the Royal Society to recommend to Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, that a voyage to promote both science and geography should be undertaken. King George III encouraged the venture and Phipps was appointed its commander.


From The Oxford Companion to World Exploration in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.

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