Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Albert Hastings Markham appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
29 October 1918


Career in the Navy.

We regret to announce that Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, K.C.B., the distinguished explorer and writer, died yesterday after a short illness at his residence in Queen’s-gate-place. Admiral Markham was born at Bagnères on November 11, 1841, the fourth son of Captain John Markham, R.N., and Marianne, daughter of Mr John Brock Wood. He was educated at home and at Eastman’s Royal Naval Academy, Southsea. From there he entered the Navy as a cadet in January, 1856, and attained flag rank in August, 1891, retiring in November, 1906, served in H.M.S. Imperieuse at the capture of the Taku Forts in 1861 and at Pekin. From 1886 to 1889 he commanded the Training Squadron, and was second in command of the Mediterranean Fleet from 1892 to 1894. In. November, 1901, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief at the Nore. Sir Albert Markham, it may be recalled, was flying his flag in H.M.S. Camperdown when that vessel rammed H.M.S. Victoria, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon, in the Mediterranean in 1893.
In an interesting letter published in The Times in July, 1908, Admiral Markham wrote:—
When the signal for the evolution was reported to me I fully realized the danger that would be incurred in executing it, and, in consequence, did not masthead the signal — I kept the signal at the "dip,” as an indication that the manoeuvre ordered could not be executed for the space of two or three minutes. It then occurred to me that the signal as hoisted, was capable of another interpretation, and the only one that was free from danger. I had no time to communicate with the Commander-in-Chief who made the signal, and who was directing the fleet, for we were approaching the land, which was only miles off, at a speed of nine knots. I therefore answered the signal, having no doubt in my own mind that the only safe way of executing the evolution was the way intended by the Commander-in-Chief. In the peculiar circumstances in which I was placed, which required an instant decision, my assumption regarding the interpretation of the signal has received the assent of many of my brother officers.

Polar Expeditions.

As cousin and intimate friend of Sir Clements Markham, Sir Albert Markham was naturally interested in Arctic exploration, and therefore took eager advantage of the opportunity to join Sir George Nares’s expedition, equipped by the Government in 1875, in the Alert and Discovery. Markham was second in command of the Alert, under the leader of the expedition. He took an active part in all the work of the expedition, but his opportunity for distinction presented itself when he was entrusted with the command of the party which was to push its way Polewards as far as the conditions would permit.
The party under Commander Markham left the winter quarters of the expedition in 82° 28' N., on the coast of Grennill Land, on April 3, 1876. The men had to drag the sledges, for no dogs were employed. The obstacles, in the shape largely of "palaeocrystic ice," were probably more formidably than any other expedition had to face, but they were met and overcome with the greatest good will under the command of the genial leader. In the end, what with the formidable condition of the ice and the prostrate condition of many of the men from scurvy, the expedition had to return on May 13, after having reached the latitude of 83° 20' 28", the "farthest North" that had ever been reached up to that time. With the exception of the mile or two farther reached by Greely's party a few years later, this remained the record until Nansen made his great advance several years after.
It is on, this strenuous effort that Sir Albert Markham's fame as an Arctic explorer mainly rests. But he did other good work in the North Polar area in later years. In 1879 he made a successful expedition with Gore-Booth to the north of Novaya Zemlya. In the summer of 1886 he had the good fortune to accompany a Canadian Government expedition into Hudson's Bay with a view to report upon the possibility of using the bay as a navigation route from Europe. For his services he received the thanks of the Canadian Government.
Besides his narrative of his "Polar Reconnaissance" and his Novaya Zemlya expedition, Sir Albert Markham wrote the lives of John Davis (1882), Sir John Franklin (1890), and Sir Clements Markham (1917); He served on the Councils of the Royal Geographical Society, the Hakluyt Society, the British Empire League; and the Navy Records Society. He was fond of all kinds of sport, and had made large collections in natural history.
Sir Albert Markham, who was created K.C.B. in 1903, married, in 1894, Theodora, daughter of F.T. Gervers, Amat, Ross-shire, and leaves one daughter.

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