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Henry Grinnell

Birthplace: New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: June 30, 1874 (75)
New York, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Captain Cornelius Grinnell and Sylvia Ann Grinnell
Husband of Sarah Grinnell
Father of Cornelius Grinnell; Sarah Minturn Grinnell; Robert Minturn Grinnell; William Minturn Grinnell; Mary Minturn Grinnell and 3 others
Brother of Cornelius Grinnell Jr.; Joseph Grinnell; Sylvia Grinnell; William Palmer Grinnell; Abraham B. Grinnell and 4 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Henry Grinnell

Henry Grinnell (born February 18, 1799 in New Bedford, Massachusetts - June 30, 1874) was an American merchant and philanthropist.

In 1818, Grinnell moved to New York City where he became a clerk in the commission house of H.D. & E.B. Sewell. He married Sarah Minturn in 1822. In 1825, Henry joined his brother Joseph Grinnell in Fish, Grinnell & Company. A few years later, with the addition of Henry's brother-in-law, this became Grinnell, Minturn & Company, a firm whose operations were greatly expanded by its entry into the general shipping business. This company became one of the strongest mercantile houses in New York City.

Henry Grinnell retired in 1850, around the time that he became very interested in the fate of the lost Franklin Polar Expedition. For the remainder of his life he corresponded regularly with Lady Jane Franklin and others interested in solving the mystery, as well as promoting and funding several expeditions.

The first of these expeditions was in 1850, when he purchased and loaned to the United States Navy the brigs Rescue and Advance to search the Arctic under the overall command of Lieutenant Edwin De Haven. After these vessels returned unsuccessful, he funded a second expedition with the Advance under Elisha Kent Kane which explored the region named Grinnell Land off the north-western coast of Greenland between 1853 and 1855, when the vessel, hopelessly beset in the ice, was abandoned.

In 1856, Grinnell was instrumental in having the recently salvaged HMS Resolute restored at the expense of the United States government, and returned to Great Britain as a good-will gesture. This was partly in the hope that the vessel would be used for a further search for the Franklin expedition.

On later occasions, Grinnell manifested his unabated interest in polar exploration by contributing to the voyage of Isaac Israel Hayes in 1860, and the three expeditions of Charles Francis Hall between 1860 and 1870. He was also a regular correspondent with the writer and unsuccessful explorer William Parker Snow.

Henry Grinnell was also one of the founders of the American Geographical and Statistical Society.


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Henry Grinnell's Timeline

February 18, 1799
New Bedford, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States
December 30, 1829
New York, New York, United States
November 19, 1843