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Barrow, Sir John

Sir John Barrow, 1764–1848, British geographer, promoter of arctic exploration. His early travels as secretary to Earl Macartney (who was ambassador to China and governor of the Cape of Good Hope colony) were recorded in Travels in China (1804) and Travels into … Southern Africa (1806). As second secretary of the admiralty (1804–6, 1807–48), he promoted numerous voyages to further knowledge of geography and navigation. He instigated many arctic expeditions, notably those of John Ross and William Parry. He was a principal founder of the Royal Geographical Society in 1830. Point Barrow, Cape Barrow, and Barrow Strait were named in his honor. He wrote Voyages of Discovery and Research in the Arctic Regions (1846).

See his autobiography (1847); biography by C. Lloyd (1970).

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Barrow, Sir John

Barrow, Sir John (1764–1848). Promoter of exploration. As a member of Lord Macartney's staff, Barrow was on the famous embassy to China in 1793 and then with him at the Cape of Good Hope after the British take-over; he wrote accounts of both ventures. Barrow had made some useful travels in the little-known South African interior and drew maps. He became 2nd secretary at the Admiralty in 1806 and remained there using the position to promote British exploration, official and semi-official, most notably of west Africa and of the north polar region. Barrow was a founder member and key figure in the foundation of the Royal Geographical Society in 1830 and set it on its path as the premier promoter of 19th-cent. exploration.

Roy C. Bridges

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