North Runcton

Samuel Gurney Cresswell

samuel gurney cresswell

Samuel Gurney Cresswell's gravestone is to the north east of the Church. Also buried here are his parents and siblings. Rachel Fry had stayed in North Runcton for many months in 1816. She was a rebellious daughter, perhaps resentful of her mother's devotion to her prison reform work, and the marriage to Captain Francis (Frank) Cresswell was a source of distress to Elizabeth Fry. Cresswell was not a member of the Society of Friends, so Quaker doctrine forbade Elizabeth attending her daughter's wedding, in August 1821.

Samuel Gurney Cresswell went to sea at 14. By 1850 he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant and was on board the Investigator, which, with the Enterprise, set out to try to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin's expedition.

Samuel Gurney CresswellAfter crossing the Atlantic and the Equator, they sailed west round Cape Horn and proceeded up the west coast of the Americas, before entering the arctic waters north of present day Alaska and Canada. They made their way east, but became ice-bound. In fact, they spent two arctic winters there (1850-51 and 1851-52) in very inhospitable conditions. In the meantime a further four ships were sent. In the summer of 1852, the crew of the Resolute, approaching from the Atlantic side, discovered evidence of the Investigator's location, which had been left at Winter Harbour by a sledging party from the Investigator. Gurney Cresswell was among a small party which transferred from the Investigator to ships on the Atlantic side and returned to Britain. This was the first time the NorthWest Passage had been navigated, and the first complete circumnavigation of the American continent.

For the complete story of Samuel Gurney Cresswell's remarkable life, read War, Ice and Piracy  by Dominick Harrod see book list