National Records of Scotland

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Harry Goodsir (1819-c 1847-48)

Harry Goodsir (1819-c 1847-48)

Surgeon and naturalist

Harry Goodsir qualified as a licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1840 and was curator of its museum from 1843 to 1845. In March that year he joined Sir John Franklin's expedition to the Arctic in search of the North-West Passage. He was assistant surgeon on HMS Erebus and also carried out scientific work, sending back a detailed description and illustrations of a species of insect in June 1845. In 1846 the crew had to abandon the ships and set off across the ice. Harry Goodsir made it to the Peffer River region of King William Island and was one of the last to die. Searches by John Rae and others have provided some answers but the fate of the Franklin Expedition has still to be fully explained.  A body discovered in a stone-covered grave on King William Island was moved to the Franklin Memorial in the chapel of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Facial reconstruction and analysis of the teeth helped to identify the person as Harry Goodsir. A plaque in his honour was placed at the original burial site in August 2018.

Birth in 1819

Henry Duncan Goodsir was born on 3 November 1819, the son of John Goodsir, surgeon and Elisabeth Taylor. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Anstruther Easter in Fife records that he was baptised on 26 November by the Reverend A Taylor, Carnbee.

Birth and baptism entry for Harry Goodsir

Birth and baptism entry for Harry Goodsir (38 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 402/3, page 26

1841 census

In 1841 Henry Goodsir, 20, surgeon was enumerated at Back Street, Anstruther Easter. The 1841 census doesn't record relationships within the household but we can infer that the others are his mother Eliza, sister Jane and brother John. Ages should have been rounded down to the nearest five but aren't for everyone in this schedule. The final column shows that only Eliza was born outside the county ('n'). 

1841 census return for Harry Goodsir

1841 census return for Harry Goodsir (42 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/402/2, page 19