Ancestor of Scoresbys to visit for project

An ancestor of the explorers the Scoresbys is set to visit Whitby as part of a research project into her third-great uncle.

Sunday, 27th November 2016, 3:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:37 pm
Kat Long. Ancestor of William Scoresby to visit Whitby. Picture by Dave Gershgorn

Kat Long is the editor of National Geographic in New York City and is undertaking the project to investigate how Scoresby Jr invented the field of polar science on his many whaling voyages from Whitby to the Arctic.

She also aims to find out more about how his observations influenced leading explorers, naturalists and statesmen.

Even today, Scoresby Jr’s log books are helping modern scientists to understand and predict climate change.

Kat is currently fundraising for the trip where she intends to visit the Whitby Museum archives reading Scoresby’s personal letters, journals, and diaries. The research trip will also see Kat visit two other cities connected to Scoresby – Liverpool where his ship was built and also London where maritime artefacts are housed.

She said: “I’ve been to Whitby only once before, 20 years ago, and I’m looking forward to visiting again. The trip is scheduled for the spring of 2017, and while I’m there, I hope to share my family’s story with the community.”

There have only been two biographies on Scoresby Jr published and Kat is keen to make his work better known. She said: “I felt that the Scoresbys’ work has so much resonance for today’s audiences that a new look at his life was overdue. I found out that Scoresby Jr was my great-great-great uncle on my father’s side. Today, my dad, sister, and nephew all have Scoresby as their middle name.”

William Scoresby Jr was born in the village of Cropton, near Pickering and became famous for his Arctic exploration. His father, who shared the same name, was a successful whaler and is credited with the invention of the crow’s nest. During his time in Whitby, Scoresby Jr captained a number of well-known ships including the Resolution and the Esk. He undertook most of his explorations from a base in Whitby.

Some of his most notable discoveries at sea include the discovery of warmer temperatures at depth in the Arctic ocean, advanced understanding of the effects of iron and force upon compass reliability and contribution to the knowledge of terrestrial magnetism.

Kat Long has much published work to her name, having covered science news for the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Smithsonian, and other publications. Speaking about her career to date, she said: “I definitely believe my ancestors’ affinity for adventure led me down this path!”

For more information on her fundraising visit: