Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lieutenant E N Kendall ... a man of "talent, enterprize and unwearied zeal" (Sir John Franklin to Kendall's mother)

Moving on to another individual in the obituary column from the Carlisle Journal of 22 February, 1845 (see previous blog entry) this short summary sparked my interest and sent me digging for someone of whom I knew nothing and, as usual, I was astonished at what was to be found -
“On Tuesday week at Southampton, Lieut. E. N. Kendall, marine superintendent of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Company. This promising officer served on several expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic seas, and accompanied the last expedition of Sir J. Franklin to the Polar Seas, between the years of 1825 and 1827, and was the companion of Dr. Richardson on that branch of the expedition which discovered and delineated the northern coast of America lying between the Mackenzie and Coppermine Rivers.”
This “promising officer” was Edward Nicholas Kendall, born in 1800 into a Cornish naval family and left orphaned with three siblings at the age of six. His life was remarkable, both in the way of exploration and dutiful naval service, yet promotion to higher rank than Lieutenant seemed to have eluded him. One has to wonder why after reading the summary in The Canadian Dictionary of Biography of his achievements. Perhaps he was too humble and not pushy enough on his own account or he fell foul of someone with influence at a critical time in his career. And history is full of people like him.

Cree Wigwams in Summer, 1851, Lieut. E. N. Kendall
McCord Museum, Canada
Members of Ancestry will be able to search for and view Kendall's public family tree showing his numerous descendants, several of whom are in Australia. A family photograph is also posted to the family tree (he looks not unlike his one-time superior Sir John Franklin) also his polar medals and other information about him. (Just enter Edward Nicholas Kendall into

Some of Kendall's paintings, sketches and charts can be found at the Scott PolarInstitute and National Maritime Museum UK.

by Lieut. E.N. Kendall

Another longer obituary in a Southampton newspaper where he was Superintendent for the Peninsular and Orient Steam Navigation (P&O) company describes how his death was unexpected and much regretted in the city and the flags were at half-mast for several days after he died -
“... By his kindness and urbanity of manner to all who approached him, by his indefatigable attention to the duties of his highly important and responsible situation, his officer-like conduct to the gentlemen in the service of his company, by his regard for the interest of the town, his extreme benevolence, and the exercise of all the virtues of private life, he had gained universal respect and esteem, and the announcement of his sudden death was felt universally, as that of a dear and respected friend. ...”
It goes on to say that since the 1820s, Kendall had great zeal for the expansion of “steam communication with our Colonies” and while in his service with P&O had -
“projected a plan for … extending steam navigation to Australia and printed for private circulation a pamphlet describing the proposed route and arrangements – a project which will no doubt be carried out at no very long period hence.”
Sadly, Kendall did not live to see his dream fulfilled.  Although not the first steamship to operate in Australian waters, in 1852  Chusan, built at Miller, Ravenhill & Salkeld, Low Walker Yard, Tyneside, became the first P&O regular steam vessel to Australia.

SS Chusan
State Library of South Australia

More interesting links on Kendall here

Internet Archive - Book on earlier Franklin expeditions (includes many references to Kendall and his drawings)

Internet Archive - Reports written by Kendall on New Brunswick.

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