Joseph Billings

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Joseph Billings (c.1758 – 1806) was an English navigator and explorer who spent the most significant part of his life in Russian service.

In 1785, the Russian government of Catherine the Great commissioned a new expedition in search for the Northeast Passage, led by English officer Joseph Billings, who had previously sailed with Captain Cook, and the Russian officer Gavril Sarychev as his deputy and Carl Heinrich Merck as the expedition's naturalist.[1] This enterprise operated till 1795.

Though considered a failure by some scholars because the expenditures outweighed the results, it nevertheless had a substantial record of achievement. Accurate maps were made of the Chukchi Peninsula in Eastern Siberia, the west coast of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands. Members of the expedition landed on Kodiak Island and made an examination of the islands and mainlands of Prince William Sound. Additionally, the expedition compiled a census of the native population of the Aleutian Islands and reported to the crown stories of abuse by the Russian fur traders (promyshlenniki).[2]

After the Expedition, Joseph Billings remained with the Imperial Russian Navy, before retiring in 1797 and settling in Moscow.

Cape Billings in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug was named after him.

See also


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External links

  • Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  • Voyage fait par ordre de l'impératrice de Russie Catherine II dans le nord de la Russie asiatique, dans la Mer Glaciale, dans la Mer d'Anadyr, et sur les côtes de l'Amérique: depuis 1785 jusqu'en 1794, par le commodore Billings: Volume 1, Volume 2. (This is the French translation of the original English account, full text of which does not seem to be available on Google Books yet, but a long review is.)