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Francis Crozier

Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier
Born 16 August 1796 (1796-08-16)
Banbridge, Ireland
Died after 1848?
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1810–48
Rank Captain, Royal Navy

Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier (16 August 1796 – after 1848?) was born in Ireland at Banbridge, County Down and was a British naval officer who participated in six exploratory expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. He was named after Francis Rawdon, the 2nd Earl of Moira, who was a friend of his father.


  • Early life 1
  • Ancestry 2
  • Naval service 3
  • Antarctic exploration 4
  • Northwest Passage expedition 5
  • Tributes 6
  • Discovery of one of the ships 7
  • In the media 8
  • See also 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12

Early life

Francis Crozier was born at Avonmore House, which still stands today opposite his large memorial in Church Square, Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland. He was the eleventh of thirteen children, and the fifth son, of attorney-at-law George Crozier, Esq. Francis attended school locally in Banbridge, with his brothers William and Thomas and lived with his family in Avonmore House in the centre of Banbridge which his father had built in 1792.

Avonmore House, birthplace of Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier


Blue plaque at Avonmore House

His ancestors were of Norman descent and first emerged when they joined the armies of William the Conqueror to invade England in 1066. A certain man called William was in the service of the Church as the crozier carrier for Bishop Odo (half brother of William the Conqueror) and hence took the surname Crozier. Before this date surnames did not exist. He was the founder of the family. He was well known at that time and after Bishop Odo's departure to France, he continued to live in Canterbury and is buried there. William Crozier is mentioned in the cartulary of Gloucester in 1258.

Robert Crozier obtained a grant of land from the abbot of St Bees in Cumberland in 1262. In the family arms which is used to this day are four bees and a cross indicating where they obtained their first grant.

The early family consisted of Simon Crozier who lived at Swanick and was Clerk of the market of Marshalsey of the Royal Household and his son Sir William Crozier (1368), who was household steward to John of Gaunt and held the office of Justice in the Eyre for Pleas of the Forest, his son Sir John Crozier (1402) who held many manors, including Hinwick, Aldenham, Maidencroft, Wrestingworth, Stoke D'Abernon, Fetcham, Swanick and Pavenham in England and lived with his family at Stoke D'Abernon in Surrey and at the Savoy Palace, London. Sir William was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire for the years 1346 and 1347. He was also an Ensheator for the counties of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. Sir William was also Clerk of the Market of the Marshalsey of the Royal Household. He had two sons one Sir John Crozier and another William Crozier. In 1393 200 Oaks were cut from their land Stoke Park, they were used in the construction of the new roof which is still in existence on Westminster Hall.Some of that Oak is in the Carved Coat of Arms in the old Speakers Chair in Canberra, Australia.

Also of the family was another William Crozier who in the 15th century was Canon of Glasgow, Archdeacon of Teviotdale, and held many prebends, as well as being a Papal Legate, one of the founding fathers of St Andrews University and a Professor of Logic. He is well recorded in history and was a kinsman of James, Earl of Douglas.

John Crozier came to Ireland as a cavalry officer in 1630 with Lord Strafford. Prior to that he came from Redworth Hall (which still stands in the village of Heighington), County Durham; his family had been there since 1407. Before that time they were in Heversham, Westmorland.

John Crozier had two sons. The younger son, John, had lands in Fermanagh at Coa, Cavantillycormack, Ardvarny and in County Tyrone at Moorfields and founded the Fermanagh branch of the family. William, the elder son, went to County Down and had lands in Stramore, Lower Stramore and the Parke, all in Gilford near to Banbridge, Co. Down. William went on to be the founder of the Banbridge line.

Naval service

At the age of 13, Crozier volunteered for the Royal Navy and joined HMS Hamadryad in June 1810. In 1812 he served on HMS Briton and in 1814 visited Pitcairn Island, where he met the last surviving mutineers from HMS Bounty.

In 1817 he received his certificate as mate and in 1818 he served on the sloop Dotterel during a trip to the Cape of Good Hope. In 1821 Crozier volunteered to join Captain William Edward Parry's second expedition (1821–23) to find the Northwest Passage in the vessels HMS Fury and her sister ship HMS Hecla. He returned to the Arctic with Parry in 1824, which resulted in the loss of Fury off Somerset Island. Crozier was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1826 and in 1827 joined Parry's failed attempt to reach the North Pole. During his voyages Crozier became a close friend and confidante of the explorer James Clark Ross.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1827 after conducting valuable astronomical and magnetic studies on his three expeditions with Parry. He was appointed to the frigate HMS Stag in 1831 and served off the coast of Portugal during that country's civil war.

Crozier joined James Clark Ross as second-in-command of Cove in 1835 to help search for 12 British whaling ships lost in the Arctic. Crozier was appointed to the rank of commander in 1837.

Antarctic exploration

In 1839, Crozier again joined James Clark Ross, as second-in-command of a four-year voyage to explore the Antarctic continent in the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Crozier commanded Terror, and in 1841 was appointed to the rank of captain. Erebus and Terror returned in 1843, having made the most significant penetration of the Antarctic pack ice and discovered large parts of the continent which became synonymous with the 20th century's Heroic Age of Exploration under Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton – including the Ross Sea and Ross Island, Mount Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf.

Crozier was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1843 in recognition of his outstanding work on magnetism.

Northwest Passage expedition

In 1845, he joined Sir John Franklin on the Northwest Passage expedition as captain of HMS Terror. After Franklin's death in June 1847, he took command of the expedition, and his fate and that of the other expedition members remained a mystery until a note from him and James Fitzjames, captain of Erebus, the other ship on the expedition, was discovered on King William Island in 1859 during an expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. Dated 25 April 1848, the note said that the ships, stuck in ice, had been abandoned. Nine officers, including John Franklin, and 15 crewmen had died, and the survivors were setting out on 26 April for Back's Fish River on the Canadian mainland.[1] There were later, unverified Inuit reports that between 1852 and 1858 Crozier and one other expedition member were seen in the Baker Lake area, about 400 km (250 mi) to the south, where in 1948 Farley Mowat found "a very ancient cairn, not of normal Eskimo construction" inside which were shreds of a hardwood box with dovetail joints.[2] McClintock and later searchers found relics, graves, and human remains of the Franklin crew on Beechey Island, King William Island, and the northern coast of the Canadian mainland, but no survivors.


Descendants laying flowers at the Crozier Monument in Banbridge, January 2008
  • In January 2008, Crozier's home town of Banbridge, Northern Ireland hosted a memorial event, which included a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at the Church of the Holy Trinity, which was attended by more than 100 descendants of Crozier and other officers of the Franklin expedition and those who searched for it, along with the chairman of the Banbridge Council, and several Arctic historians, including Michael Smith and Russell Potter.[3]
Francis Crozier memorial inside Seapatrick Church, Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland
Francis Crozier monument in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland
  • A memorial to the memory of Sir John Franklin and his men, including Crozier, was erected by order of Parliament in 1858 in the Edward Augustus Inglefield, Admiral Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pim, and Admiral Sir John Ross. Franklin's redoubtable wife Jane Griffin, Lady Franklin, is also interred at Kensal Green in the vault, and commemorated on a marble cross dedicated to her niece Sophia Cracroft.

Geographical features named after Crozier include:

Discovery of one of the ships

On 1 September 2014, a search under the banner of the "Victoria Strait Expedition"[7] found two items on Hat Island in the Queen Maud Gulf near Nunavut's King William Island:[8]

  • Part of a boat-launching davit bearing the stamps of two Royal Navy broad arrows.
  • A wooden object, possibly a plug for a deck hawse, the iron pipe through which the ship's chain cable would descend into the chain locker below.

On 9 September 2014, the expedition announced that it had on 7 September[9] located one of Franklin's two ships. It is preserved in very good condition, with side-scan sonar picking up even the deck planking.[10] The wreck lies at the bottom of the eastern portion of Queen Maud Gulf, west of O'Reilly Island.[11] The wreck has been confirmed to be that of HMS Erebus, the expedition flagship.[12] Crozier's ship, HMS Terror, remains to be found.

In the media

Francis Crozier is the main protagonist of the 2007 novel The Terror by Dan Simmons and the narrator of the 2008 novel "Du bon usage des étoiles" by Dominique Fortier, a finalist for the 2009 Governor General's Awards.[13] In the comic book Alpha Flight, Crozier became the villain Pestilence. In the novel The Year of the Flood, the three main youths are called Crozier, Shackleton and Oates.

See also


  1. ^ Savours, Ann (1999). The Search for the North West Passage. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 291–93.  
  2. ^ Woodman, David C. (1992). Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: Inuit Testimony. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 317, ISBN 0-7735-0936-4 Note: Woodman was unable to track down the origin of these Inuit reports and the builder or origins of the cairn found by Mowat are unknown.
  3. ^ "Polar First Proves Great Ice-breaker", Banbridge Courier, 23 January 2008, pages 1–2.
  4. ^ Online review of recent Service of Thanksgiving
  5. ^ Online blog of Service of Thanksgiving
  6. ^ Online blog at McClure's Memorial in London
  7. ^ Victoria Strait Expedition.
  8. ^ "Franklin expedition ship pieces believed discovered in Arctic". CBC. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Lost Franklin expedition ship found in the Arctic". CBC. 2014-09-09. Retrieved 2014-09-09. 
  11. ^ Chase, Steven (9 September 2014). "Finding of Franklin ship fuels Harper's new nationalism".  
  12. ^
  13. ^ Fortier, Dominique (2008). Du bon usage des étoiles. Québec, QC: Éditions Alto.  


  • Smith, Michael (2006). Captain Francis Crozier – Last Man Standing? Cork, Ireland: Collins Press. ISBN 1-905172-09-5
  • Campbell, R.J. The date of birth of Captain F.R.M. Crozier R.N., Polar Record (2009) 45; 83–84.
  • "Terror In The Arctic" Doctor Who audio podcast episode

Further reading

  • Michael Smith, 2010, 'Great Endeavour – Ireland's Antarctic Explorers', Collins Press
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