John Davis (sealer)

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John Davis
John Davis

Surrey, England
OccupationSeal hunter
Known forDebated as the first man on Antarctica
Home townConnecticut, United States

Captain John Davis (born 1784 in Surrey, England) was a seal hunter from Connecticut, United States.[1] It is thought that he may have been the first person to set foot on Antarctica, on 7 February 1821, shortly after the first sightings of the new continent, all in 1820, by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev (28 January), Edward Bransfield (30 January) and Nathaniel Palmer (November).

Antarctic claim: "I think this southern land to be a continent."[edit]

Some of Davis' crew from the American sealing ship, Cecilia, may have landed at Hughes Bay (64°01'S) looking for seals for less than an hour. The ship's logbook entry reads:

Commences with open Cloudy Weather and Light winds a standing for a Large Body of Land in that Direction SE at 10A.M. close in with it our Boat and Sent her on Shore to look for Seal at 11A.M. the Boat returned but find no sign of Seal at noon our Latitude was 64°01' South Stood up a Large Bay, the Land high and covered intirely [sic] with snow the wind coming Round to the North & Eastward with Thick weather Tacked ship and headed off Shore. At 4P.M. fresh Gale and Thick weather with snow ... Ends with Strong Gales at ENE Concluded to make the Best of our way for the Ship I think this Southern Land to be a Continent.[2][3]

These men were the first recorded humans to have claimed to have set foot on the newly discovered continent of Antarctica.[4][5]

The first undisputed landing on Antarctica did not occur for another 74 years, on 24 January 1895, when a group of men from the Norwegian ship Antarctic went ashore to collect geological specimens at Cape Adare. The group included the Norwegians Henrik Johan Bull and Carsten Borchgrevink, and the New Zealander Alexander von Tunzelmann.


The coastal strip where the men were alleged to have gone ashore is called Davis Coast.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The first landing on the mainland of Antarctica". Australian Antarctic Data Centre. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  2. ^ "Unconfirmed Landing". Thinkquest. Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  3. ^ "The Voyage of the Huron and The Huntress", Edourd A. Stackpole, 1955
  4. ^ "Introduction". Antarcticaonline. Archived from the original on 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  5. ^ "One small step for man ..." 70south. Archived from the original on 2007-07-29. Retrieved 2008-09-16.