Henry Foster (scientist)

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Henry Foster FRS (1797 – 5 February 1831) was a British naval officer and scientist who took part in expeditions to both the Arctic and Antarctic, and made various notable scientific observations.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Arctic polar region on the Earths northern hemisphere

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Northern Canada, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost -containing tundra. Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.



Foster was born in Woodplumpton, Lancashire in 1797, and at an early age joined the Royal Marines. [1]

Woodplumpton farm village in the United Kingdom

Woodplumpton is a village and civil parish in the City of Preston, Lancashire, England, located 5 miles (8 km) north of Preston.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

In his early career, Foster served aboard HMS York. Later, he served aboard HMS Griper in 1823 as part of the British Naval Scientific Expedition to the Arctic led by Douglas Clavering. He assisted the astronomer Edward Sabine. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society. [1]

HMS <i>York</i> (1807)

HMS York was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Rotherhithe by the contract firm Samuel & Daniel Brent, and launched on 7 July 1807. She saw service during the Napoleonic Wars, though is best known for her time spent as a prison ship. She was broken up in March 1854.

HMS <i>Griper</i> (1813)

HMS Griper was a Bold-class gun-brig of the British Royal Navy, built in 1813 by Mark Williams and John Davidson at Hythe. She participated in the 1819 expedition to the Arctic led by William Parry, made a voyage to Greenland and Norway in 1823, and took part in Parry's third expedition in 1824 as a support ship. Her crew in 1819, 1823, or 1824, qualified for the "Arctic Medal", which the Admiralty issued in 1857. She was eventually broken up in 1868.

Captain Douglas Charles Clavering RN FRS was an officer of the British Royal Navy and Arctic explorer.

In 1824 as a lieutenant, he joined the Northwest Passage expedition led by Captain William Edward Parry, aboard HMS Hecla. He made various scientific observations in magnetism and astronomy and pendulum measurements of gravity, for which he shared the Copley Medal in 1827 and received the rank of commander. Later in 1827 he joined the British Naval North Polar Expedition, again under the leadership of Parry. [1]

Northwest Passage sea route north of North America

The Northwest Passage (NWP) is, from the European and northern Atlantic point of view, the sea route to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The eastern route along the Arctic coasts of Norway and Siberia is accordingly called the Northeast Passage (NEP).

HMS <i>Hecla</i> (1815)

HMS Hecla was a Royal Navy Hecla-class bomb vessel launched in 1815. Like many other bomb vessels, she was named for a volcano, in this case Hekla in Iceland. She served at the Bombardment of Algiers. Subsequently she took part in three expeditions to the Arctic. She then served as a survey vessel on the coast of West Africa until she was sold in 1831. She became a merchantman and in 1834 a Greenland whaler. She was wrecked in 1840.

Magnetism class of physical phenomena

Magnetism is a class of physical phenomena that are mediated by magnetic fields. Electric currents and the magnetic moments of elementary particles give rise to a magnetic field, which acts on other currents and magnetic moments. The most familiar effects occur in ferromagnetic materials, which are strongly attracted by magnetic fields and can be magnetized to become permanent magnets, producing magnetic fields themselves. Only a few substances are ferromagnetic; the most common ones are iron, cobalt and nickel and their alloys. The prefix ferro- refers to iron, because permanent magnetism was first observed in lodestone, a form of natural iron ore called magnetite, Fe3O4.

From 1828 to 1831, he was commander of HMS Chanticleer and led the British Naval Expedition to the South Atlantic, surveying the South Shetland Islands and notably Deception Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. The expedition was to survey the coasts and land formations, as well as to determine the direction of ocean currents in both hemispheres. [2] He named the Wollaston Islands of present-day Chile, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, after the British chemist William Hyde Wollaston. As well as surveying coasts and ocean currents, Foster used a Kater invariable pendulum to make observations on gravity. [2] The survey included the archipelago and island of Fernando de Noronha. Foster was given considerable assistance by the Governor, who let Foster use part of his own house for the pendulum experiments. [3] He published his research in an 1834 book, released posthumously. [2]

HMS Chanticleer was a Cherokee-class 10-gun brig of the Royal Navy. Chanticleer was launched on 26 July 1808. She served in European waters during the Napoleonic Wars and was paid off and laid up at Sheerness in July 1816. She was chosen for an 1828 scientific voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Her poor condition on her return meant that the Admiralty replaced her for the second voyage in 1831 with another Cherokee-class brig, Beagle, which subsequently became famous because of the association with Charles Darwin. Chanticleer then spent 15 years as a customs watch ship at Burnham-on-Crouch and was broken up in 1871.

South Shetland Islands A group of islands north of the Antarctic Peninsula

The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands with a total area of 3,687 square kilometres (1,424 sq mi). They lie about 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of the Antarctic Peninsula, and between 430 kilometres (270 mi) to 900 kilometres (560 mi) south-west from the nearest point of the South Orkney Islands. By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for non-military purposes.

Deception Island Island in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, with one of the safest harbours in Antarctica

Deception Island is an island in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, with one of the safest harbours in Antarctica. This island is the caldera of an active volcano, which seriously damaged local scientific stations in 1967 and 1969. The island previously held a whaling station; it is now a tourist destination and scientific outpost, with Argentine and Spanish research bases. While various countries have asserted sovereignty, it is still administered under the Antarctic Treaty System.

He drowned in the Chagres River in Panama in 1831 after slipping and falling overboard. His book, published posthumously, was considered very important because of his observations on the southern hemisphere. It was translated into French and republished in 1849. [1]

Chagres River river

The Chagres River, in central Panama, is the largest river in the Panama Canal's watershed. The river is dammed twice, and the resulting reservoirs—Gatun Lake and Lake Alajuela—form an integral part of the canal and its water system. Although the river's natural course runs northwest to its mouth at the Caribbean Sea, its waters also flow, via the canal's locks, into the Gulf of Panama to the south. The Chagres has the unusual claim of drainage into two oceans.

Panama Republic in Central America

Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.


Legacy and honours

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889 (II ed.). New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1887. p. 510.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Image of 'sketches of the island of fernando noronha', south atlantic, 1828-1831". Science Museum. Science & Society Picture Library. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  3. FitzRoy, R. (1839) Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, London: Henry Colburn, pp. 24–26.