O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'
O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'

Royal NavyO'Byrne

The following is the entry for William Edward Parry in William O'Byrnes 1849 'Naval Biographical Dictionary'.

PARRY, Kt, LL.D., F.R.S., L. & E. (Captain, 1822. f-p., 32; h-p., 12.)

William Edward Parry, born 19 Dec. 1790, at Bath, is fourth and youngest surviving son of the late Dr. Caleb Hillier Parry, F.R.S., an eminent physician in that city, by Miss Rigby, of Norwich, sister of the late Dr. Rigby. His brother-in-law, the Rev. Thos. Garnier, Dean of Winchester, is uncle of the present Lieut. Brownlow North Garnier, R.N.
This officer entered the Navy, 30 June, 1803, as Fst.-cl. Vol., on board the Ville de Paris 110, Capt. Tristram Robt. Ricketts, bearing the flag of Hon. Wm. Cornwallis, in the Channel; where, and in the Baltic, he continued employed as Midshipman and Master’s Mate on board the Tribune 36 and Vanguard 74, Capts. Thos. Baker and Henry Rich. Glynn, until promoted to the rank of Lieutenant 6 Jan; 1810. In the Vanguard he commanded a gun-boat attached to the ship, and came into frequent action with the Danish flotilla. His first appointment after his promotion was, 9 Feb. 1810, to the Alexandria 32, Capts. John Quilliam and Robt. Cathcart; in which vessel, besides affording protection to the Spitzbergen whale fishery, he was much employed in making astronomical observations, and in preparing for the Admiralty charts, which were much prized, of Balta Sound, of the Voe, a harbour in the north-eastern part of the Shetland islands, and of various places on the coasts of Denmark and Sweden. At the commencement of 1813 Lieut. Parry proceeded in the Sceptre 74, Capt. Robt. Honyman, to North America, for the purpose of joining La Hogue 74, Capt. Hon. Thos. Bladen Capel. On 8 April, in the following year, having accompanied a detachment of boats under the orders of Capt. Rich. Coote, to the neighbourhood of Pettipague Point, on the river Connecticut, we there find him contributing to the destruction of 27 of the enemy’s vessels, three of which were heavy privateers, and the aggregate burden of the whole upwards of 5000 tons. In the course of 1814 Lieut. Parry furnished many of the junior officers on the Halifax station with copies of his ‘Practical Rules for observing at Night by the Fixed Stars,’ a treatise which was afterwards published in order to "facilitate the acquisition of a species of knowledge highly conducive to the welfare of the naval service." In Aug. 1814 he exchanged into the Maidstone 36, Capt. Wm. Skipsey; and he next, in July, 1815, and Jan. and June, 1816, became in succession attached to the Ardent 64, Capt. Sir Wm. Burnaby, and Carron 20, and Niger 38, Capts. Nicholas Lechmere Pateshall and Saml. Jackson, all on the North American station, whence, in March, 1817, he returned to England. On 14 Jan. 1818 he obtained command of the Alexander brig, hired for the purpose of accompanying an expedition to the Arctic Regions under Capt. John Ross, with whom he returned home in the following Nov. Owing to the failure of the enterprize, a new one was determined on and the conduct of it intrusted to Lieut. Parry, who was consulted in the choice both of his ships and officers. He accordingly assumed command, 16 Jan. 1819, of the Hecla bomb, and in the early part of the ensuing May sailed from Deptford in company with the Griper gun-brig, Lieut.Coramander Matt. Liddon, for the purpose of carrying out the object of his mission – the discovery of a north-west passage. In the course of the voyage, which, although not thoroughly successful, exceeded in its general results the most sanguine expectations of its projectors, Lieut. Parry penetrated to long. 113° 54' 43" W., within the Arctic circle, and thereby obtained for the expedition the sum of 5000l., the amount of a parliamentary reward which had been promised to such as should cross the meridian of 110° W. from Greenwich, in the latitude of 74° 44' 20". A full narrative of his proceedings will be found in a volume, published by him in 1822, entitled ‘Journal of a Voyage for the Discovery of a North-West Passage in 1819-20.’ The Hecla and Griper re-entered the Thames about the middle of Nov. 1820, and were paid off at Deptford on 21 of the ensuing Dec. On 4 of the former month Lieut. Parry was advanced to the rank of Commander; and on 19 Dec. the Bedfordean gold medal of the Bath and West of England Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce was unanimously voted to him. With the sum of 500 guineas subscribed for the purpose, “the Explorer of the Polar Sea” was afterwards presented with a silver vase highly embellished with devices emblematic of the arctic voyages; and on 24 March, 1821, the city of Bath presented its freedom to him in a box of oak, highly and appropriately ornamented. Encouraged by the discoveries made during the late expedition, and by the presumption it afforded of the existence of a north-west passage, the Admiralty soon made preparations for another; the command of which was again confided to Capt. Parry, who, on 30 Dec. 1820, received a commission for the Fury bomb, with which vessel and the Hecla, commanded by Capt. Geo. Fred. Lyon, he sailed from the Nore 8 May, 1821. After having passed two winters in the polar regions, the first to the northward of Southampton Island, and the second at Ingloolik, a small island in lat. 69° 21’, long. 81° 44’, the expedition, with its grand object still unattained, but with the acquisition of much important geographical knowledge, returned to Deptford, where the two vesselswere paid off 14 Nov. 1823. On 1 of the following month Capt. Parry (whose valuable services had been rewarded with a Post-commission bearing date 8 Nov. 1821) was appointed Acting-Hydrographer to the Admiralty; and, on 26 he was presented with the freedom of the city of Winchester. Being selected, 17 Jan. 1824, to take charge of a fresh expedition to the frigid zone, Capt. Parry, on 8 of the following May again sailed from Deptford, with the same ships as on the last occasion – the Hecla, however, being commanded by himself, and the Fury by Capt. Henry Parkyns Hoppner. The following winter was spent at Port Bowen, in Prince Regent’s Inlet, where the two vessels remained, from 23 Sept. 1824 until 20 July, 1825. The Fury being shortly afterwards wrecked in lat. 72° 42' 30", long. 91° 50' 5", the Hecla was unfortunately reduced to the necessity of forthwith returning, with a double ship’s company, to England. She arrived, accordingly, in the middle of Oct. On 22 Nov. in the same year, Capt. Parry (to whom the freedom of the borough of Lynn was voted a month afterwards in testimony of the high sense entertained by the corporation of his meritorious and enterprising conduct) was formally appointed Hydrographer to the Admiralty, which office he continued to hold until 10 Nov. 1826. At the end of that period, having proposed and obtained sanction for a plan of reaching the North Pole, from the northern shores of Spitzbergen, by travelling with sledge-boats over the ice, or through any spaces of open water that might occur, he was again appointed to the Hecla. Sailing from Deptford 25 March, 1827, he left the Hecla in Treurenburg Bay, lat. 79° 55' 20", long. 16° 48' 45" E., 21 June following, and then took to his sledge-boats, with which he contrived, by 23 July, to reach a little beyond 82° 45', a latitude more northern than had been ever yet attained. He then retraced his steps to the Hecla, which he brought home and paid off at Deptford 1 Nov. 1827. On the following day he resumed his duties as Hydrographer to the Admiralty, where he remained until 13 May, 1829 – a fortnight prior to which period he had received the honour of Knighthood. He was subsequently employed – from 1829 until 1834 as Commissioner to the Australian Company in New South Wales – from 7 March, 1835, until 3 Feb. 1836, as Assistant Poor-Law Commissioner in co. Norfolk – and, from 19 April, 1837, until Dec. 1846, as Comptroller of the Steam Department of the Navy. He has filled, since the latter date, the post of Captain-Superintendent of the Royal Hospital at Haslar.
Sir W. E. Parry (who is an LL.D. of Oxford, an F.R.S. of Lond. and Edin., and a Member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg) is the author of a small work entitled ‘Thoughts on the Parental Character of God.’ He married, first, 23 Oct. 1826, Isabella Louisa, fourth daughter of Lord Stanley; of Alderley, by whom, who died 13 May, 1839, he had issue two sons and two daughters, now living. He married, a second time, 29 June, 1841, Catherine Edwards, daughter of the Rev. Robt. Hankinson, of Walpole, co. Norfolk, and relict of Sam. Hoare, jun., Esq., of Hampstead. By that lady he has had issue two daughters.

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