William Moor and Francis Smith: 1746-1747
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Bowen, Emanuel, 1720-1767.
“A New & Accurate Map of the North Pole, with all the Countries hitherto Discovered Situated near or adjacent to it as well as some others more remote” [1747]. Copperplate map, 40 cm. in diameter, handcolored. From Bowen's A Complete System of Geography . . . (London, 1747). [Historic Maps Collection: purchased with funds provided by Robert M. Backes, Class of 1939.]

In the text at the bottom right, Bowen concludes with a timely note: “but the publick is in great Expectation of New Discoveries from the Expedition of the Dobbs Galley and the California which passed by Yarmouth the 31st of May 1746 under convoy of the Loo of 40 Guns on their Voyage to Discover the N.W. passage by Hudson's Streights.” Arthur Dobbs, a member of the Irish Parliament, sought to resume the quest for a Northwest Passage, and argued that the powerful Hudson Bay Company, which owned most of the lands commonly believed to hold the answer, was a major obstacle. Consequently, he personally instigated several expeditions in Hudson Bay. This one referred to by Bowen was financed by the Northwest Committee, which had been organized by Dobbs, with William Moor as captain of the Dobbs-Galley (170 tons) and Francis Smith, of the California (140 tons).

Notice in the map that the cartography for a “Northeast Passage”is fairly complete, given the discoveries of the Russian Cossack Semen Dezhnev (d. 1673) and Vitus Bering (1681-1741). By 1700, all Siberian rivers had been discovered and navigated, and the most eastern part of the Asian continent had already been rounded by Dezhnev in 1648. Bering, a Danish navigator hired by the Russians to determine whether Asia and North America were joined, discovered the sea (1728) and strait (1741) named for him.


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Ellis, Henry, 1721-1806.
A Voyage to Hudson's-Bay, by the Dobbs Galley and California, in the Years 1746 and 1747, for Discovering a North West Passage . . . Together with a Fair View of the Facts and Arguments from Which the Future Finding of Such a Passage Is Rendered Probable. London, 1748. [Rare Books Division: Kane Collection]

Ellis accompanied Moor and Smith as agent for the Northwest Committee, and as surveyor, hydrographer, and mineralogist for the expedition. Their extensive exploration of the western coast of Hudson Bay, between the Nelson River and Wager Bay [image from the book], discovered no Northwest Passage, further discouraging British interest in similar future voyages. Yet, afterwards, Ellis still persisted in the belief, in fact devoting over thirty pages at the end of his account to arguments for the great probability of a passage—from the evidence of climate, produce, height and direction of tides, and the “Appearance of the Country”—and suggested Chesterfield Inlet and Repulse Bay as future possibilities for exploration. His book contains many valuable observations on animals, Eskimo (Inuit) dress and life, and compass and tidal variations.

The accompanying map, “Nouvelle Carte des Parties, ou l'on a cheche le Passage Nord-Ouest dans les annees 1746 et 1747, Representant la route des Vaisseaux dans cette expedition,” is from the first French edition of Ellis's work, published in Paris in 1749. [Historic Maps Collection: purchased with funds provided by Robert M. Backes, Class of 1939.]

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