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Journal kept by surgeon William Guthrie Borland serving aboard HMS DOROTHEA under the command of Captain Buchan and narrative titled Through Sketches of my life.


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Gallery locationNot on display

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Biographical details The 1818 Spitzbergen expedition was nearly the first the many Arctic expeditions that followed the Napoleonic Wars. It set out at the same time as that of John Ross into Baffin Bay. Both were prompted by the interest of John Barrow in Arctic exploration and the fact that in 1817 whalers reported that the normal ice between Greenland and Spitzbergen had disappeared. The ships were HMS Dorothea (Captain Buchan, first lieutenant Arthur Fleming Morrell, astronomer George Fisher) and HMS Trent under John Franklin who was later famous for his disappearance in the Arctic. They left London on 4 April 1818 and reached Spitzbergen in June. They found that the ice had returned to normal. They entered Magdalena Bay on the west coast where they were frozen in for a few weeks. Escaping the bay they worked their way north through leads in the ice, often dragging the ships with ropes. By early July they were about 30 miles into the ice and could go no further. They were a little north of 80°, about the same latitude as northernmost Spitzbergen. No European had sailed this far north except William Scoresby. It took only nine days to return to open water, but almost immediately they were hit by a storm which threatened to drive them onto the ice. The storm died down but Dorothea was too damaged to continue in the Arctic. Franklin wanted to continue with Trent but Buchan overruled him. They reached home on 30 September.
Description Journal kept on the DOROTHEA, 1818, by surgeon William Guthrie Borland, dated 1818 during the Spitzbergen expedition, with an account by Borland of his time at sea. Commissioned 15 January 1818 for the expedition one of the first wounded was William Borland, who was shot in the leg, DOROTHEA arrived back to Deptford in October 1818, under command of Captain Buchan. This includes a detail account of meeting Beothuk people and a polar bear attack.
Includes a handwritten narrative by Borland entitled 'Through Sketches of my Sea Life', 1814 - 1837.
Date made 1814 -1837

Finding Reference JOD/288
Catalogue section Manuscript volumes acquired singly by the Museum
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Extent 1 folder
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