Some sites associated with Captain James Weddell.

Episodes: 42 & 46b. Site Numbers: 008, 051, 084, 164-166, 246. Date Posted: 6 April 1997. Location: Various. Type: Various.

James Weddell (1787-1834) ventured to the Antarctic in the brig Jane on three occasions between 1819 and 1824, setting a 'furthest south' of 74 deg 15 ' S on the 20th of February 1823. He authored one of the early classic Antarctic books, A Voyage Towards the South Pole in the Years 1822-24 (1825), the second edition of which (1827) is usually preferred because of the additional material included. He died in poverty at age 47 and is buried in the northwest corner of the churchyard of London's St Clement Danes, Strand. (Dr Johnson was a regular member of this congregation--seat no 18--although in modern times its strongest association is with the RAF.) A.G.E. Jones writes that "if ever there was a gravestone, wind and weather have removed the inscription." (164) Visiting the church in January 1998 I searched in vain for any evidence of Weddell's grave. The Verger said that with street widenings and reconstruction over the years the churchyard had long ago been obliterated. Some gravestones had been used for paving, but no sign of Weddell's.
      At the time of his death he was living at 16 Norfolk Street, just south of the church. [Fairly recently the street was swallowed up by a new superblock development.] At other times while ashore he could be found at Barr Street (apparently also no longer existing) near the Tower, and 8 South Hanover Street, Edinburgh. (165)
      There's a small oil portrait of Weddell on display at the Scott Polar Research Institute (008); and the Royal Geographical Society has in its collections a posthumous portrait of Weddell painted by Peake in 1839 and presented by John Barrow)(084) while its sister society in Scotland has one done by P. G. Dodd (042). The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has, according to A.G.E. Jones, "a copper seal made for Weddell's private use" that features an illustration of the Jane and Beaufoy at the furthest South.(051)
      Weddell presented to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh the skin of a seal. Still in its possession, it is of the species now named for this pioneering Antarctic explorer.(246)

An update of Episode 42 (posted as Episode 46b):

In Episode 42, I stated that James "Weddell presented to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh the skin of a seal." That seal is what we know today as the Weddell Seal. I can't seem to locate my source for this and after some e-mailing back and forth to Scotland, I think I've worked it out: The seal skin (and skull) resides not at the RCS but at the Royal Museum of Scotland (formerly the Royal Scottish Museum) which is a division of the National Museums of Scotland, located at Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF ( (My thanks to Miss A.M. Stevenson of the Royal College of Surgeons and Andrew Kitchener of the Royal Museum of Scotland.)
      By the way, the skin and skull are shown on page 91 of Antarctica: Great Stories from the Frozen Continent, (Readers Digest,c1985). And here's what Alan Gurney says about it all in his engaging book, Below the Convergence (NY: W.W. Norton, 1997): "Today the skin of that seal killed in the South Orkneys described by Jameson and destined to become the type specimen for Leptonychotes weddelli rests in the basement of Edinburgh's Royal Scottish Museum, wrapped in plastic. The skull crushed by the sealer's club, sits in a cardboard box. The skin itself is still in remarkably good condition and shows the needle holes suggesting that the specimen was at one time stuffed and on display." (246)