Sir Albert Markham
|Birth name||Albert Hastings Markham|
|Born||11 November 1841|
|Died||28 October 1918 (aged 76)|
|Years of service||1856–1906|
|Relations||Father: Captain John Markham|
Mother: Marianne Markham (née Wood)
Wife: Theodora Markham (née Gervers)
Cousin: Sir Clements Robert Markham KCB FRS
|Other work||Arctic Exploration|
Council of the Royal Geographical Society
Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham(11 November 1841 – 28 October 1918) was a British explorer, author, and officer in the Royal Navy. In 1903 he was invested as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He is also remembered for designing the flag of New Zealand.
Albert Markham was the fifth son of Captain John Markham, who had retired from the navy because of ill health with the rank of lieutenant. John Markham's grandfather, William Markham, had been Archbishop of York. He was a cousin and close friend of Sir Clements Markham.
Albert was born in Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the Hautes-Pyrénées department of France, where the family lived before moving to a farm on Guernsey. At age thirteen, Albert was sent to London to live with his aunt, the wife of his uncle David Markham (Canon of Windsor from 1827 to 1853), at 4 Onslow Square. Neighbours included the explorer Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy and novelist William Thackeray.
He was educated at home and at Eastman's Royal Naval Academy. Markham's father was short of money for his education and had for some time tried to find a naval officer willing to sponsor Albert for admission to the navy. He only succeeded in doing so after Albert had passed the normal entry age of fourteen, but by good luck the admiralty at that time had decided to experiment with accepting older cadets. His aunt's son Clements Markham, who was eleven years older than Albert, had also joined the navy before leaving to become a geographer and explorer. He became a lifelong friend to his cousin Albert and exerted a considerable influence on his career.
When away from Clements and his wife Minna, whom for much of his life he regarded as his only family, Albert was often moody, irritable and defensive. He had a strong sense of duty as a naval officer, which compelled him to serve with a strict adherence to rules and established practices, and strong religious convictions. He did not smoke, allowing that a gentleman might have an occasional cigar, but believing that cigarettes were for effeminate weaklings and that a black pipe ruined mind and body. He did not drink and disapproved of those who did. He found it difficult to socialise with other officers. He disliked the peacetime navy, with its endless social engagements, partying and ritual displays.
Markham's family emigrated to the United States and John Markham bought a farm at La Crosse in Wisconsin. Albert visited them twice and was unimpressed. He found the trains slow, the hotels disreputable, and travelling companions murderous. He was, however, impressed by the wild grandeur and wildlife of the Mississippi Valley and was invited to hunt with General Mackenzie in Indian territory. Throughout his life he enjoyed hunting all manner of beasts. The only killing at which he showed disgust was the drawn-out deaths of whales, which he saw on Arctic voyages.
He married Theodora Gervers in 1894, with whom he had one daughter.
In 1873, Markham shipped as the second mate in the whaler Arctic through Davis Straits and Baffin Bay. While performing his share of whaling duties, which he would later write about, he also kept detailed notes on the ice conditions and wrote a report suggesting the route for use with steam vessels.
For the British Arctic Expedition of 1875–76 he was appointed second-in-command of HMS Alert under Captain Nares. Despite suffering from scurvy and being poorly clothed, he led a sledge-party to reach the highest latitude ever attained at the time (83°20′26″ N), a record that stood for 20 years. They did, however, fail to realize their ultimate goal of reaching the North Pole.
In 1879, he accompanied Sir Henry Gore Booth aboard the Isbjörn to Novaya Zemlya, a remote island in northern Russia. In 1886, he went alone to report on the ice conditions of Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay, a report which garnered thanks from both Houses of the Canadian Parliament. The ship which took him to Hudson Bay was his old ship Alert from the British Arctic Expedition of 1875–76, by then on loan to the Canadian Marine Service of the Department of Marine and Fisheries.
He served for many years on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society along with his cousin Sir Clements Markham, whose biography he would later write. He remained an avid supporter of both Arctic and Antarctic exploration and delighted in the successes of young explorers.
Markham wrote numerous books and articles about his exploration as well as two biographies. While stationed in the Pacific from 1879 to 1882 he compiled a list of Pacific gulls which was published in 1882 by the ornithologist Howard Saunders and republished in 1883 by Osbert Salvin. Salvin named a bird, Markham's storm petrel, after him in honor of his contributions to science.
Location of geographical features named after Sir Albert Hastings Markham:
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
Albert Hastings Markham