KELLETT, Henry

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Sir Henry Kellett

KELLETT, Henry (1806-1875), born in Tipperary, Ireland, he became a British Vice-Admiral and captain of the vessel, H.M.S.Herald (1822-1862) during her extensive Pacific Coast voyage of 1845-1851. Kellett joined the Royal Navy in 1822, traveling the world for most of his career. In 1845 he was appointed captain of the survey ship HMS Herald. The vessel worked off the Pacific Coast of North America and conducted a survey of the coast of British Columbia after the Oregon boundary dispute with the United States.

Two survey ships were dispatched from Plymouth in June 1845, HMS Herald and HMS Pandora. The Herald was a 680-ton, six-gun frigate, and the Pandora, in charge of Lieutenant James Wood, was a faster 319-ton, wood-hulled packet brig (1833-1862) with three guns.

Both ships were assigned for charting the coast of the Americas. The vessels reached Cape Flattery, Washington (most northwesterly tip of the contiguous 48 states) on June 24, 1846. The Herald and the Pandora spent several months charting the Puget Sound and Vancouver Island until September 2, 1846 when the vessels sailed south for Alta California. (In 1847, the Modeste was the only British ship in the region during 1847, and the Oregon Treaty "seemed to have taken the edge off of the Royal Navy's interest in the Northwest Coast.")

In 1848 Kellett and H.M.S. Herald was reassigned with to join the search for Sir John Franklin in the Bering Strait. After searching for signs or news of the expedition along the Siberian coast, in June 1849 Herald entered the Bering Sea and struggled through the ice as far as Wrangel Island. The following summer, they reached as far east along Alaska’s northern coastline as Point Barrow, without learning anything of the missing vessels.

Herald eventually returned to Britain in May 1861, having accomplished a voyage of six strenuous years in the tropics and the Arctic, as well as, briefly, Victoria.

Specimens collected on these Pacific coast voyages are in the British Museum, including a Santa Rosa Island fox collected in 1847.

Kellet's whelk Kelletia kelletii is named after Captain Henry Kellett.


Sir Henry Kellett


  • Boletín de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística
North Pacific Ocean Coast of California. Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel & Anacapa Islands surveyed by Lieut. J. Wood 1848.
  • Admiralty Catalogue of Charts, Plans, Views, and Sailing Directions By Great Britain. Admiralty. 1864. London
St. Nicholas Island, Coronados Rocks and Colnett Bay — Capt. H. Kellett and Lieut J. Wood, R.N. 1847
Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Catalina, San Miguel and Anacapa Islands, with with plans of Becher, Anacapa and Raper Bays, Cuyler Harbour and Pandora Cove — Lieut. J. Wood, R.N., 1848; with additions to 1856