SCROGGS, JOHN, HBC sailor; fl. 1718–24.
After serving as second mate on a Hudson’s Bay Company ship in 1718 and 1719, Scroggs returned to the bay in 1721 as master of the Whalebone sloop, and the next year sailed north from Churchill to explore the west coast of the bay. Although Scroggs was an inexpert navigator and an unenthusiastic explorer, his short voyage is of some importance through his discovery on Marble Island of wreckage from James Knight’s lost expedition, and more especially because of the significance his meagre explorations attained in the search for a northwest passage. At the expedition’s farthest point north Richard Norton* reported a clear channel to the west (probably Chesterfield Inlet), which Scroggs allegedly refused to investigate. In the 1730s Christopher Middleton* and Arthur Dobbs read Scroggs’ journal, and argued that this opening might be the entrance of a passage to the Pacific-an illusion which lured several expeditions to the region until Chesterfield Inlet and the nearby coastline were surveyed in detail. Scroggs returned to England in 1723, and disappeared into obscurity. The last mention of him in the company records is a refusal in 1724 to appoint him captain of one of the company’s ships.
Extracts from Scroggs’ journal (which is no longer in the HBC archives) were printed in Arthur Dobbs, Remarks upon Capt. Middleton’s defence (London, 1744), 113–17. A longer summary of the journal was printed a few years later in [T. S. Drage], An account of a voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage by Hudson’s Streights, to the western and southern ocean of America (2v., London, 1748–49), II, 174–80. Details of Scroggs’ service with the HBC are given in HBRS, XXV (Davies and Johnson). The fullest account of the voyage of 1722 is in Williams, The British search for the northwest passage, 22–26.