Samuel Gurney Cresswell

Samuel Gurney Cresswell (1827-1867) was born in Norfolk England. In 1842, he joined the Royal Navy and served on the ship HMS Agincourt in the China Seas. In 1848, he joined the crew of the HMS Investigator, under the leadership of Sir James Ross on a voyage in search of John Franklin’s missing polar expedition. The attempt was unsuccessful and Cresswell joined another expedition as a second lieutenant, under the command of Robert McClure. After four years of searching, the HMS Investigator became entrapped in ice. Under McClure’s orders, Cresswell led a sledging party across the ice, carrying six gravely ill crew members to safety. After one hundred and seventy gruelling miles, they were found by another search party for the Franklin, on the HMS Resolute. In addition to Cresswell’s heroic action and being credited as the first naval officer to cross the entire Northwest Passage, he is best remembered as an artist. He depicted the second voyage on the HMS Investigator in a series of eight dramatic drawings, two of which are included in this exhibition. The drawings show some of the obstacles faced by the crews, notably fierce weather conditions, ice jams, icebergs and isolation as well as the stark and intense beauty of the unforgiving north.

Link to bio from Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

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