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Smith, Benjamin Leigh, 1828-1913 (Arctic explorer)



  • Existence: 1828 - 1913


Benjamin Leigh Smith was born Whatlington, Sussex in 1828, his father was MP for Norwich. In 1848 went up to Cambridge University, but as a nonconformist was not granted his BA until 1857. On leaving Cambridge Smith became a lawyer, being called to the bar in 1856. Smith travelled widely and from 1871 to 1882 sailed to the Arctic waters five times, the last two voyages being in the steam brigantine Eira which he had built in Peterhead. In 1881 his last trip met with disaster when the the Eira was caught in ice and sank off Northbrook Island, one of the islands which make up Franz Josef Land off northern Russia. Smith and his crew lived for ten months in a makeshift hut before travelling in small boats to Novaya Zemlya where they were met by an expedition which had been sent to find them by the Royal Geographic Society. Smith never returned to the Arctic, but worked with the Royal Geographic Society to promote scientific investigation of the Antarctic. He died in Sussex in 1913.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Benjamin Leigh Smith: Photographs on Arctic expedition

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9915
Dates: 1872-1873
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