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Sir John Richardson


1787 - 1865

Naturalist and explorer. Born in Dumfries, Richardson studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He spent his career as a surgeon in the Royal Navy, joining in 1807 and serving until 1855. He was surgeon and naturalist to Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin's first (1819-22) and second (1825-6) Arctic expeditions. Richardson is remembered for having undertaken accurate surveys of more of the Canadian Arctic coast than any other explorer. He was knighted in 1846. The following year, he was chosen to command an expedition to search for Franklin, who had gone missing while searching for a Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, Richardson discovered that Franklin's ships had been crushed by the ice and his team had tried to return by foot, but ill-prepared were all lost. The rescue mission was able to glean further information about the area, which was published by Richardson in An Arctic Searching Expedition (1851).

He was also an expert in ichthyology and his natural history works include Fauna Boreali-Americana (1829-37), Icones Piscium (1843), the second edition of Yarrell's History of British Fishes (1860) and The Polar Regions (1861).

In 1855, Richardson retired to Grasmere, in the English Lakes, and this is where he died ten years later.


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