John Balleny

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John Balleny (died 1857) was the English captain of the sealing schooner Eliza Scott, who led an exploration cruise for the English whaling firm Samuel Enderby & Sons to the Antarctic in 1838–1839. During the expedition of 1838–1839, Balleny, sailing in company with Thomas Freeman and HMS Sabrina, sailed into the Southern Ocean along a corridor of longitude centering on the line of 175°E., south of New Zealand.


Balleny was born approximately 1770,[1] and by 1798 was living in St George in the East, then the shipping quarter of London, and was part owner of a 569 ton ship, Blenheim. He was recorded as ship's master for a few trading ships up until 1824, including the trading ship Lord Cathcart and the 269-ton brig Peace. In 1824, he owned part of a whaling barque, Caledonia, but was not longer registered as the master of any ship for the following year, possibly indicating his retirement.[2]

Voyage of Eliza Scott[edit]

Samuel Enderby & Sons had sent two unsuccessful expeditions towards Antarctica in the early 1830s, and had decided to send a third - the 156-ton schooner Eliza Scott and the 54-ton cutter HMS Sabrina.[3] Although the ships set off from London on 12 July 1838 with Thomas Freeman in command of the Eliza Scott, by the time they had reached Deal, Kent two days later, Balleny was in command and Freeman was master of the Sabrina,[2] evidently brought out of retirement for the expedition.[1]

The Eliza Scott had not been built for such an arduous journey, making the trip quite a difficult one for Balleny and his crew. In addition, Balleny's had intended to hold religious services on a Sunday, which had endeared him to the Enderby's, but the crew refused to come on deck to the service early in the journey and the plan was dropped.[3] The ships arrived at Chalky Island near New Zealand on 3 December 1838,[2] where they remained for a month, hunting seals and replenishing supplies.[3]

The Balleny squadron logged a partial break in the pack ice surrounding the southern continent, discovered the Balleny Islands in 1839,[4] and caught a brief sight of Antarctica itself at 64°58'S., 121°08'E. This patch of icy land is today called the Sabrina Coast.[3]

On the return journey, the Sabrina was lost on 24 March 1839[5] and the voyage was not profitable as the 178 seal skins that Balleny returned with did not cover the cost of the expedition.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Balleny, John (b. c. 1770, d. in or after 1842)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37145. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c Jones, A. G. E (March 1969). "New Light on John Balleny". The Geographical Journal. The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). 135 (1): 55–61. doi:10.2307/1795563. JSTOR 1795563.
  3. ^ a b c d e Mills, William James (2003). Exploring polar frontiers : a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 57–58. ISBN 9781576074220.
  4. ^ Stanton, William (1975). The Great United States Exploring Expedition. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 148. ISBN 0520025571.
  5. ^ "John Balleny collection". JISC. Retrieved 10 March 2020.

External links[edit]