The travels of William Mogg, RN (1796-1875)

This week the public outcomes for students undertaking their second year History Group Projects will go live. They will include exhibitions, articles, presentations, websites and documentaries, with a number of projects drawing on material from Special Collections. Group 7’s project draws on the journals of William Mogg…

Christopher Columbus, Francis Drake, Marco Polo, James Cook, Robert Falcon Scott… These men all have one thing in common. They are famous explorers who made ground-breaking discoveries through their travels across the world. However, what most people don’t know is that we have our very own local traveller from here in Southampton: William Mogg. This figure, forgotten by history, was actually part of some of the most significant and famous voyages of exploration during the nineteenth century.

Photo of William Mogg wearing the medal presented to him ‘for Arctic discoveries, 1818-1855’ [MS 45 A0188]

Photo of William Mogg wearing the medal presented to him ‘for Arctic discoveries, 1818-1855’ [MS 45 A0188]

Born in 1796 in Woolston, Southampton, Mogg joined the Royal Navy as a volunteer in 1811, serving in the continental blockade of the Napoleonic war. From 1821-5 he joined Captain Lyon and Sir William Parry on their Arctic expeditions on HMS Hecla and Fury, which Mogg describes in his second journal. He also travelled around South America from 1827-33 on HMS Beagle, an expedition on which Charles Darwin was also present on.

Although Mogg is not an established figure in the history of exploration, he played an important role aboard ship and his account of everyday life has proven very significant in enhancing our views of 19th century culture and attitudes.  He served as a clerk on Parry’s expeditions where he recorded meteorological material. His journals also include annotated copies of Robert Fitzroy’s Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and the Beagle, which describes the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe.

Throughout Mogg’s six journals he describes his travels to the Arctic, South America, Wales, the West of England, Switzerland and Italy, and within these he also includes a number of drawings, postcards and photographs which he collected during his travels. In his journals, Mogg recorded some incredible stories of his interactions with different native populations such as Arctic Esquimaux, Feugians, and the Patagonians. He immersed himself in the various cultures that he encountered, and has many tales to share of the people he met along the way. He talks of hunting trips he went on, games played with the natives, the languages he learned and even tattoos he was given! Mogg does not only provide interesting and humorous anecdotes, but grants us an insight into another time; a world very different to ours today.

The journals also provide a rare glimpse into the personal thoughts of a man who experienced more in four decades, than most people would in an entire lifetime. His attitudes to different cultures, places and people are fascinating, and his journals are a truly valuable piece of history that should be treasured by Southampton. William Mogg’s journals reveal just how important every member of a crew can be. Although history only notes the leaders of such voyages, Mogg shows that these men would never have been able to achieve the things they did, were it not for the crew which helped them along the way.

A group of second year history students are currently studying journals 2 and 3 from the University’s Special Collections and have created a website to present their fascinating research, aiming to shed light on the life and work of William Mogg, and bring his sadly unknown journeys to life.

Please visit http://www.moggexplored.fallows.org/ to find out more about one of Southampton’s lost historic figures.

Article by Hollie Geraghty

References

Southampton University Special Collections, <http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguidemss45.page>,[Accessed 03/05/16].

Mogg, William, The Papers of William Mogg, 1811-c.1870, Journal 1, 2,3,6, Special Collections Division, Hartley Library, University of Southampton.

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One response to “The travels of William Mogg, RN (1796-1875)

  1. Pingback: 2016: Year in review | University of Southampton Special Collections

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