Crozier, Francis Rawdon Moira (1796–1848), Royal Navy captain and polar explorer, was born in September 1796 in Banbridge, Co. Down, one of thirteen children of George Crozier, attorney-at-law, and his wife Jane Elliot Crozier (née Graham). He joined the RN as a first-class volunteer at Cork in June 1810 and travelled to the Pacific, was made midshipman on his return in 1812, and passed his lieutenant's examination in 1817. During one of his early voyages, his ship visited Pitcairn Island, where the Irishman John Adams, last of the Bounty mutineers, was still living. In 1818 Crozier was sent to the Cape station, as a mate on the sloop Doterel. He served on three Arctic expeditions (1821–7) with Capt. William Perry and was made a full lieutenant in March 1826 on the basis of his distinguished conduct. On his return he resumed normal duties with the home fleet and on the Portuguese station (1831–5). In December 1835 he joined an expedition to Davis Strait and Baffin Bay in the Arctic, to search for missing British whalers, and afterwards was promoted commander. He travelled with Capt. James Clark Ross to the Antarctic (1839–43) and was promoted captain in his absence (16 August 1841). Throughout these polar expeditions Crozier experimented in magnetic observation, and by the 1840s was recognised as an expert in this field.
In March 1845 Crozier joined Sir John Franklin on an expedition to the Arctic in search of a North West Passage, and was appointed captain of the Terror which sailed with the Erebus in May 1845. The two ships had been fitted with auxiliary steam engines, which reduced the amount of space available for supplies, a situation with which Crozier was not comfortable. The ships were last seen by a British whaler in July 1845, at the head of Baffin Bay, after which nothing more was heard from them. Over the next few years some twenty ships from England, France, and the USA went in search of the expedition. In 1854 Dr John Rae of the Hudson Bay Co. reported that the Inuit off the north-east coast of Canada told of how the crew had left the wrecks of their ships and perished while travelling overland. Rae also bought various items belonging to the expedition from the Inuit. The Fox expedition (1857–9) under Capt. Leopold McClintock (qv) finally discovered the fate of Franklin's party when it found a document under a cairn of stones at Cape Herschel on King William Island in May 1859. The document told how the ships had initially faired well until beset by ice in September 1846 off the west coast of King William Island. Franklin died in June 1847, leaving Crozier in command. As rations ran short and the crew took ill, he had decided to abandon the ships in April 1848, and headed south in search of help. The 105 men remaining began their journey on 26 April and died sometime thereafter. McClintock's party found the remains of campsites, equipment, and some bodies of the crew. Modern forensic tests on the bodies recovered noted signs of vitamin C deficiency and lead poisoning, thought to be caused by the poor quality of the tinned rations.
A monument was erected to Crozier in Banbridge in 1862, and the extreme western point of King William Island was named ‘Cape Crozier’. There is a further Cape Crozier in the Antarctic. There is a small collection of his belongings in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which includes the material that Rae bought from the Inuit. He was awarded the Arctic Medal but did not survive to receive it. In 1988 the medal was issued to his great-great-nephew, Rawdon Crozier. Speculation over the fate of the Franklin expedition has continued since the 1850s and has spawned a large body of literature. Many believe that Crozier was among the last members of the expedition to perish, or even the very last, but there is no hard evidence for this. The loss of the expedition was one of the great mysteries of the nineteenth century, and expeditions continue to travel to the Arctic in search of further evidence.