Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PARRY, Sir William Edward, British navigator, born in Bath, England, 19 December, 1790; died in Eros, Germany, 8 July, 1855. He entered the navy in 1803, became lieutenant in 1810, served on the North America station in 1812-'17, and then joined Captain John Ross's arctic expedition as commander of the "Alexander." They left England in April, 1818, and proceeded to Lancaster sound, which they navigated for about sixty miles, when Ross, imagining that the way was closed before them by a range of mountains, gave orders to return, although Parry insisted that the mountains were an optical delusion. In the spring of 1819 he was appointed to the command of an expedition that consisted of the "Hecla" and the "Griper," and, reaching Lancaster sound on 13 July, sailed through it. He expired and named Barrow strait, Prince Regent inlet, and Wellington channel, and entering what has since been called Parry or Melville sound on 4 September, reached longitude 110º west, thereby earning a reward of £5,000 that was offered by parliament to the first ship's company that should attain that meridian. After being frozen in for ten months, the ships were released on 10 August, 1820, but the ice prevented farther progress westward, and Parry returned to England. On his arrival he was commissioned commander, and elected a member of the Royal society, and the narrative of his adventures was published by the admiralty, he sailed on another arctic expedition in May, i821, and was twice frozen in for several months, but made many explorations and discoveries by sea and land. He became captain on 8 November of that year, and in 1823 was appointed acting hydrographer to the admiralty, he again set out with the "Hecla" and the " Fury" in May, 1824, but was obliged to abandon one of his vessels, and returned to England, having accomplished little or nothing, he set sail for Spitzbergen in the "Hecla," 27 March, 1827, left the vessel in harbor with part of the crew, and with the remainder and Lieutenant James C. Ross started for the pole in two boats that could be used also as sledges. The party sailed for eighty miles through an open sea, then reached a surface that was half covered with water, on which walking and sailing were equally difficult, and with great labor reached latitude 82º 45' north, which was the nearest point to the pole that up to that time had been attained by any explorer. At the end of September they arrived in England, and Parry resumed his duties as hydrographer to the admiralty. In 1829 he was knighted and received the degree of D. C. L. from Oxford. He occupied many posts of trust and honor until his retirement in 1846. He became admiral of the White in 1852, and the next year was made lieutenant-governor of Greenwich hospital. He published " Arctic Voyages" (7 vols., 1821-'7; abridged ed., New York, 1841); "The Parental Character of God" (1842) ; "Nautical Astronomy": and a "Lecture on Seamen." See his life by his son, Reverend Edward Parry (London, 1857).
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