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Belcher, Sir Edward

BELCHER, SIR EDWARD (1799-1877), British naval officer, entered the navy in 1812. In 1825 he accompanied Frederick William Beechey's expedition to the Pacific and Bering Strait, as a surveyor. He subsequently commanded a surveying ship on the north and west coasts of Africa and in the British seas, and in 1836 took up the work which Beechey left unfinished on the Pacific coast of South America. This was on board the "Sulphur," which was ordered to return to England in 1839 by the Trans-Pacific route. Belcher made various observations at a number of islands which he visited, was delayed by being despatched to take part in the war in China in 1840-1841, and reached home only in 1842. In 1843 he was knighted, and was now engaged in the "Samarang," in surveying work in the East Indies, the Philippines, etc., until 1847. In 1852 he was given command of the government Arctic expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. This was unsuccessful; Belcher's inability to render himself popular with his subordinates was peculiarly unfortunate in an Arctic voyage, and he was not wholly suited to command vessels among ice. This was his last active service, but he became K.C.B. in 1867 and an admiral in 1872. He published a Treatise on Nautical Surveying (1835), Narrative of a Voyage round the World performed in H.M.S. "Sulphur," 1836-1842 (1843), Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. "Samarang" during 1843-1846 (1848; the Zoology of the Voyage was separately dealt with by some of his colleagues, 1850), and The Last of the Arctic Voyages (1855); besides minor works, including a novel, Horatio Howard Brenton (1856), a story of the navy. He died in London on the 18th of March 1877.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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