Place of migration:
Stayed in Ireland

Picture above: View of Mount Bransfield, back left of picture, Antarctic Peninsula (© Jim Wilson 2018)

Edward Bransfield was born in 1785 in the village of Ballinacurra in County Cork. We know nothing about his early life but he was born into a seafaring family. At the age of 18, at the outbreak of the Napoleonic wars Edward was forced to join the British Royal Navy. We know that he was taken against his will by the Royal Navy Impress service, probably in Cork Harbour, on 2nd June 1803 at the age of 18. Edward soon settled into life in the navy and proved his worth as an accomplished seaman. He served on a number of gunships and eventually earned the title of Master of his own ship.

In December 1819, Edward was given command of an expedition to investigate the newly discovered South Shetland Islands and ‘go on a voyage of discovery towards to South Pole’. On this journey, he landed on King George Island and turning South from there passed through what is now known as the Bransfield Strait. On the 30th January 1820, his expedition recorded seeing the what turned out to be mainland Antarctica and he name the land he charted Trinity land, which we now know to be the most Northerly point of the Antarctica mainland. Edward’s log book is now lost but the journal of  his midshipman Charles Poynter survives and his description of “a high and rude range running in a NE and SW direction” is generally accepted as the first recorded sighting of the Antarctic Continent. One of these “high mountains” has since been named Mount Bransfield in his honour. Edward then continued to chart the Trinity Peninsula following a route to the North-East.

Edward made a number of other Antarctic discoveries, including Elephant Island and Clarence Island. His expedition was the first to collect scientific specimens from Antarctica. His contribution to the age of Antarctic exploration is immense as without his first sighting of the great frozen region, there may never have been any further interest in navigating southwards. Edward is remembered by a number of landmarks in Antarctica bearing his name, and also by a monument dedicated to his memory which will be unveiled in Ballinacurra in on 25th January 2020. Check out

Grave of Edward Bransfield 1785

A monument dedicated to the memory of Edward Bransfield is set to be unveiled in Balinacurra on the 25th of January, 2020. 

Photo:  Bransfield Strait/Wikipedia

Additional Information
Date of Birth 1785  
Date of Death 1852  


  • The photo with this piece is not that of Edward Bransfield but a US civil war officer. For the best information on this forgotten antarctic explorer please visit Thanks.

    Monday 18th February 2019, 03:22PM
  • Thank you! We have now changed the photo.

    IrelandXO Moderator LC

    Saturday 30th November 2019, 03:35PM
  • Thanks Laura!

    Saturday 30th November 2019, 05:36PM