Sir Edward Belcher, a British naval officer and explorer, grandson of Chief Justice Belcher of Nova Scotia, born in 1799. He entered the navy at an early age, and, after having taken part as midshipman in the defence of Gaeta and the battle of Algiers, was in 1819 appointed to the Myrmidon sloop, destined for the African station. In 1825 he became assistant surveyor to the Behring strait discovery expedition under Capt. Beechey in the Blossom. In 1829 he was promoted to the rank of commander, and served on the coasts of Africa and of Portugal, rendering on the latter occasion valuable services to the British residents by protecting their property during the political troubles in Portugal. Subsequently he explored the Pacific in the surveying vessel Sulphur, passed over to the Chinese waters in 1811, materially assisting in the operations of the British army near Canton, and in acknowledgment of these services was knighted and appointed post captain. He published an account of this voyage in his "Narrative of a Voyage Ptound the World " (1843). Afterward he was employed on board of the Samarang on surveying service in the East Indies, and was severely wounded while assisting the rajah of Sarawak, Sir James Brooke, in his efforts to subdue the pirates of Borneo. In 1852 he was sent in search of Sir John Franklin with five vessels, and made some important explorations in the neighborhood of Melville island.
He rescued McClure and his crew, who had been three years imprisoned in the ice, but was obliged to abandon four of his own vessels, and reached home in 1854. On his return to England, he was tried before a court martial for voluntarily abandoning the ships. He was acquitted, and his sword returned to him; but while some of the other officers were commended, his name was passed over in significant silence. He is now (1873) a vice admiral. Besides his popular "Narrative," he has written "The Last of the Arctic Voyages " (2 vols., 1855).