Edward Augustus Inglefield

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Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield
Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield by Stephen Pearce.jpg
Portrait by Stephen Pearce, 1853.
Born (1820-03-27)27 March 1820
Cheltenham, England
Died 4 September 1894(1894-09-04) (aged 74)
South Kensington, London, England
Buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1832[1] – 1885
Rank Admiral
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Fellow of the Royal Society
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield (27 March 1820 – 4 September 1894) was a Royal Naval officer who led one of the searches for the missing Arctic explorer John Franklin during the 1850s. In doing so, his expedition charted previously unexplored areas along the northern Canadian coastline, including Baffin Bay, Smith Sound and Lancaster Sound. He was also the inventor of the marine hydraulic steering gear and the anchor design that bears his name. The warship HMS Inglefield is named after him, as is the Inglefield Land region of Greenland.

First voyage to the Arctic

Inglefield set out from Britain on his search in July 1852, commanding Lady Franklin's private steamer Isabel, seven years after Franklin had left on his ill-fated search for the fabled Northwest Passage. Once Inglefield had reached the Arctic, a search and survey of Greenland's west coast was made; Ellesmere Island was resighted and named in honour of the president of the Royal Geographical Society; Smith Sound was penetrated further than any known records; Jones Sound was also searched; and a landing was made at Beechey Island in Lancaster Sound. No sign, however, of Franklin's expedition was found. Finally, before the onset of winter forced Inglefield to turn homewards, the expedition searched and charted much of Baffin Island's eastern coast.

Despite finding no traces of the Franklin expedition, Inglefield was fêted on his return for the surveying his expedition had achieved. The Royal Geographical Society awarded him its 1853 Patron's Medal "for his enterprising survey of the coasts of Baffin Bay, Smith Sound and Lancaster Sound."

Subsequent Arctic voyages

Inglefield in 1854

Inglefield made two further voyages to the Arctic in HMS Phoenix, to supply the search for the Franklin expedition overseen by Sir Edward Belcher. He returned from the first of these in 1853, bringing with him the first officer to have traversed the Northwest Passage, Samuel Gurney Cresswell of HMS Investigator. (The Investigator had also been sent to join the search for the Franklin expedition, but starting from the western side of northern Canada.)

Arriving back in the Arctic the following year, 1854, Inglefield found Belcher's ships abandoned, save one to which the crews had retreated. Most of these men returned with Inglefield to Britain.

Later life

Soon after his return from the Arctic, Inglefield was sent to join the Crimean War in the Black Sea as captain of HMS Firebrand, where he took part in the siege of Sevastopol. After the Crimean War, he captained a number of ships and continued to rise through the ranks. In 1869 he was made a rear admiral and three years later was appointed Admiral Superintendent of Malta Dockyard. Promotions to vice admiral and then admiral followed, between which he was knighted. In 1878 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.[2]

Inglefield retired in 1885. Thereafter he devoted much of his time to painting and his watercolours of Arctic landscapes were exhibited at several art galleries in London. He died, aged seventy-four, in 1894, and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.


Portrait of Inglefield, by John Collier (1897)

Edward Augustus Inglefield was the son of Rear Admiral Samuel Inglefield and the father of Henry Beaufort Wilmot Beaumont Inglefield[3] and Edward Fitzmaurice Inglefield, a Royal Navy officer (eventually rear admiral), inventor of the Inglefield clip and Secretary to Lloyd's of London.


  1. "Arctic Profiles - Edward Augustus Inglefield" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-09-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. William Loney RN
  3. "thePeerage.com". Retrieved 2008-09-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Edward Augustus Inglefield, A summer search for Sir John Franklin; with a peep into the polar basin, Thomas-Harrison, London: 1853.
  • E. C. Coleman, The Royal Navy in Polar Exploration from Franklin to Scott, Tempus Publishing: 2006.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Astley Key
Admiral Superintendent, Malta Dockyard
Succeeded by
Edward Rice
Preceded by
Sir Astley Key
Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station
Succeeded by
Sir Francis McClintock