James Weddell (
August 24, 1787- September 9, 1834) was an English navigator, sealer, and explorer of the Antarctic.
He entered the merchant service very early in his life and was apparently bound to the master of a Newcastle collier (a
coaltransport vessel) for some years. About 1805 he shipped on board a merchantman trading to the West Indies, making several voyages there. James Weddell's father married Sarah Pease.
He was aboard the "Hope" when in 1813 in the
English Channelshe captured the "True Blooded Yankee", an American privateer. With the end of the Napoleonic Warhe was laid off on half pay in February 1816, and for a while resumed merchant voyages to the West Indies. In 1820 he volunteered for service in the Royal Navyand subsequently served on several ships.
Voyages to the Antarctic
In 1819 Weddell was introduced to James Strachan, a shipbuilder of
Leith, who together with James Mitchell, a London insurance broker, owned the 160-ton brig"Jane", an American-built ship taken during the war of 1812 and re-fitted for sealing. News of the discovery of the South Shetland Islandshad just broken, and Weddell suggested that fortunes might be made in the new sealing grounds. His first voyage as the captain of the "Jane" took him to the Falkland Islandsand further south. He returned with the holds full, and the voyage was so profitable, that Strachan and Mitchell had a second ship, the "Beaufoy", built.
The next voyage from 1821 and 1822 took both ships to the
South Shetland Islands. However, there were some 45 sealers operating in the area and seal were already becoming rare (a mere two years after the discovery of the islands!), and so he scouted for new hunting grounds. Michael McCleod, the captain of the "Beaufoy", sighted the South Orkney Islandson November 22, 1821, an independent discovery from that of Powell just a few days earlier. There, they hunted for seals, and arrived back in Englandin July.
On the third voyage from 1822 to 1824, Weddell again commanded the "Jane", while the captain of the "Beaufoy" was one Matthew Brisbane. Together they sailed to the South Orkneys again. Sealing proved disappointing, though, and after searching for land between the South Shetlands and the South Orkneys (and not finding any), they turned south in the hope to better sealing ground there. The season was unusually mild and tranquil, and on
February 20, 1823the two ships had reached latitude74°15' S and longitude34°16'45" W: the southernmost position any ship had ever reached before, a record that would hold for more than 80 years. A few icebergs were sighted but there was still no sight of land, leading Weddell to theorize that the sea continued as far as the South Pole. Another two days' sailing would have brought him to Coat's Land but Weddell decided to turn back.
After deciding to go back, Weddell cheered the crew with the announcement of being southward of any former navigator and a little ceremony; the colors were hoisted, a gun was fired, both crews gave three cheers, and an allowance of grog dispelled the gloom. A hope was infused that fortune might yet favor the crew of sealers. The area was named "The Sea of George the Fourth" [ cite book
last = Weddel
first = James
authorlink = James Weddell
title = A voyage towards the South Pole: performed in the years 1822-24, containing an examination of the Antarctic Sea.
origyear = 1825
year = 1970
publisher = United States Naval Institute
pages = 44, map ] but the naming did not become permanent. The region would not be visited again until 1911, when
Wilhelm Filchnerdiscovered the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.
Weddell returned north and sheltered at
South Georgia, where he and his crews searched for the elusive seal. They wintered at the Falklands and sailed again for the South Shetlands in November 1823. At the beginning of 1824, the two ships separated. Weddell returned in March 1824 to the Falklands and headed back to England, where he arrived in July.
His record for a southerly voyage, three degrees beyond that of
James Cook, caused some raised eyebrows. Weddell was persuaded by Strachan and Mitchell to incorporate everything in a book. The first edition appeared in 1825, followed by second enlarged edition in 1827, incorporating some information from the "Beaufoy" which had returned to England in 1826.
Weddell offered his services to the
Admiraltywith a proposal for a return voyage to the high southern latitudes, but was turned down. Instead, he returned to trading along the warmer Atlantic coasts. In 1829 he was still master of the "Jane", but on a passage from Buenos Airesto Gibraltarthe "Jane" leaked so badly that she had to be given up at the Azores. Weddell and his cargo were transferred to another ship for the passage to England, but this ran aground on the island of Pico, and Weddell only barely survived.
The loss of the "Jane" meant financial ruin for Weddell, who was forced to take paid employment as a ship's master. In September 1830 he left England as master of the "Eliza", bound for the
Swan River Colonyin western Australia. From there he proceeded to Tasmania. He sailed back to England in 1832.
Weddell died in 1834 at the age of forty-seven in relative poverty and obscurity in London.
Two places are named after him - the
Weddell Sea, and Weddell Islandin the Falklands.
Weddell Sealwas also named for him.
This article is heavily based on the [http://www.win.tue.nl/~engels/discovery/weddell.html public-domain biography of James Weddell] by Ray Howgego.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
James Weddell — Zeitgenössische Darstellung der 2. Weddell Expedition … Deutsch Wikipedia
James Weddell — (Ostende, 1787 † Londres, 1834) Marino británico. En 1822, cuando realizaba una expedición por los mares australes en busca de pieles de animales marinos, descubrió las Islas Orcadas del Sur (1823) y un mar de hielo al que llamó «Mar del rey… … Enciclopedia Universal
James Weddell — El Jane y el Beaufroy , los buques de Weddell durante su segundo viaje. James Weddell (Ostende, 24 de agosto de 1787 † Londres, 9 de septiembre de 1834). Marino británico. En 1822, cuando realizaba una expedición por los mares australes en busca… … Wikipedia Español
James Weddell — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Weddell. Portrait de James Weddell. James Weddell (24 août 1787 9 … Wikipédia en Français
James Wedell — James Weddell Pour les articles homonymes, voir Weddell. James Weddell (24 août 1787 9 septembre 1834) était un navigateur britannique, explorateur et chasseur de phoques. Biographie … Wikipédia en Français
Weddell-Insel — Weddell Island Westfalkland und Weddell … Deutsch Wikipedia
Weddell-Island — Westfalkland und Weddell … Deutsch Wikipedia
Weddell Insel — Weddell Island Westfalkland und Weddell … Deutsch Wikipedia
Weddell Island — NASA Bild von Weddell Island Gewässer Südatlantik … Deutsch Wikipedia
Weddell — is a surname, and may refer to:*Alan Weddell (contemporary), American college football coach *Alexander W. Weddell (1876–1948), American diplomat; ambassador to Argentina and Spain *Hugh Algernon Weddell (1819–1877), English botanist *James… … Wikipedia