Parry, Sir William Edward (păˈrē) [key], 1790–1855, British arctic explorer and rear admiral. He entered the navy at 13 and made his first voyage to the Arctic under Sir John Ross in 1818 in search of the Northwest Passage. He was then put in command of the Hecla and the Griper in an expedition (1819–20) to hunt for the passage. Parry sailed westward through Lancaster Sound and discovered and named Melville Island and others of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, as well as naming Barrow Strait. Two other unsuccessful attempts were made (1821–23, 1824–25) to find the Northwest Passage, in the course of which Fury and Hecla Strait was discovered and new information about the Arctic was disclosed. By discovering the entrance to the passage and the way to the north magnetic pole, Parry had also found important whaling grounds. In 1827 he made an attempt to reach the North Pole by sledge from Spitsbergen, attaining lat. 82°45−N, but was forced to turn back mainly by the fatigue of his exploring party. He published three journals describing his quest for the passage as well as a narrative of his attempt to reach the pole.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.