National Maritime Museum Manuscripts : Meteorological journal kept by Captain W. E. Parry on board HMS Fury

Parry, Sir William Edward

National Maritime Museum Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This volume and <a href='/view/MS-FIS-00011-00002'> (FIS/11/2)</a> are the private meteorological journals of Captain William Parry. They are printed sheets with spaces for general meteorological observations as well as columns for the time, the temperature of the air in shade and the sea water at the surface, air pressure, wind directions and the specific gravity and temperature of the sea water. Parry has faithfully filled in these printed sheets for every day between the 11th of May 1819 and the 9th of October 1823. This covers the period that saw Parry sail twice to the Arctic.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Whilst still a lieutenant, Parry was assigned to the Hecla early in 1819, and in May of that year it sailed from Deptford accompanied by the brig Griper . The first volume <a href='/view/MS-FIS-00011-00002'> begins (FIS/11/2)</a> at the start of this voyage, which was instructed to seek out the North-West Passage by sailing up the west side of Baffin Bay, through the Lancaster Sound then onwards, if possible, to the Bering Strait. The voyage however, was frustrated by pack ice; after wintering on Melville Island, which was later to be renamed after Parry, Parry found that he could proceed no further and returned to the Thames, arriving in mid-November 1820. This voyage was of significant scientific interest, even if it had failed in its primary objective of finding the North-West Passage, and this volume of meteorological information is just one part of a huge volume of data that came out of the voyage. In this process of faithfully filling in these daily sheets Parry collected a valuable information source. Storms and fog were significant hazards for ships, particularly when venturing into uncharted water and with this account of weather events future mariners would be able to more easily predict the weather they were sailing towards. This voyage also resulted in a <a href='/view/MS-RGO-00014-00007/1'> series of interviews (RGO 14/7:321)</a> to corroborate the degrees west the voyage reached in order to secure a reward offered by the Board of Longitude as an incentive for the pursuit of the North-West Passage.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The first volume ends during Parry's second voyage to the Arctic on the 5th of January 1822. Several months after returning to London in the Hecla, Parry was assigned to the Fury, which sailed from the Nore in the company of the Hecla, which was now under the command of George Francis Lyon, in May of 1821. This voyage to the Arctic was Parry's longest; wintering at Winter Island and Igloolik, Parry didn't return to England until the 14th of November 1823. Parry maintained his meteorological journal almost right up until the end of this journey, with the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(331);return false;'> last measurements (FIS/11/1:325)</a> given on the 9th of October 1823. There are many blank sheets left in the volume so the reason that Parry ceased to record meteorological readings in this volume is unknown. Both volumes have consolidated versions of the data collected throughout these two voyages in the last pages of each volume respectively. Parry drew up a table for each month, perhaps as a first stage of consolidation of what he knew would be useful information for the future Arctic mariner.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Sophie Waring<br />History and Philosophy of Science<br />University of Cambridge<br /></p>

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