John Biscoe collection

Reference and contact details: GB 0015 John Biscoe
Title: John Biscoe collection
Dates of creation: 1830-1893
Held at: Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Extent: Expedition material and papers
Name of Creator: John Biscoe
Level of Description: fonds
Language of Material: eng


Administrative/Biographical History

John Biscoe was born on 28 June 1794 in Middlesex, England. In March 1812, he volunteered for the Royal Navy, serving off North America during the war with the United States, 1812-1814. Between 1813 and 1815, he was promoted to midshipman and quartermaster, and at the time of his discharge in 1815, he had advanced to acting master.

Little is known about his employment between 1815 to 1830, the year when Messrs. Enderby, a respected whaling firm in London, proposed an Antarctic sealing voyage and appointed Biscoe master of the brig Tula. The British Expedition, 1830-1833, left London, in company with the smaller cutter Lively (Captain Magnus Smith, later Captain George Avery). On 24 February 1831, in latitudes below 66�South, Biscoe discovered Enderby Land, sighting bare mountain tops showing through the ice sheet. He remained off the coast for a month, attempting to make a fuller chart, at some cost to the health of the crew and himself. The expedition sailed northeastwardly, reaching Hobart in May 1831 after severe problems with pack ice and scurvy, the latter leading to two deaths among the crew. Both vessels wintered in Australia.

In a second season, Biscoe again sailed south. On 15 February 1832, he discovered Adelaide Island and, continuing northeastwardly, charted the Biscoe Islands. On 21 February 1832, he discovered and annexed land for King William IV, later calling it Graham Land. (This coast was in fact the southern extension of Edward Bransfield's Trinity Land and Palmer's Land, all part of Antarctic Peninsula). On his return in 1833, he was awarded the Royal Premium of the Royal Geographical Society for his discoveries and seamanship.

In 1833, Messrs. Enderby commissioned Biscoe for a similar voyage of exploration in two more vessels, Hopefull and Rose. Perhaps because of ill health, Biscoe eventually withdrew from this venture and decided to return to seafaring in warmer latitudes. Between 1834 and 1837, he was in the West Indies trade, and in 1837, sailed from London for Hobart, commanding the Superb. There, he became master of the brig, Lady Emma commanding her on the New South Wales sealing voyage (from Port Jackson, Sydney), 1839-1840, visiting the Chatham Islands, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island. Between 1840 and 1841, Biscoe was master of various passenger and cargo vessels sailing between Hobart, Sydney and Port Phillip, but ill health brought his career to an end. Biscoe died in 1843, during a voyage bringing his family back to England.

Published work, From the Journal of a voyage towards the South Pole on board the brig Tula, under the command of John Biscoe, with the cutter Lively in company by John Biscoe, edited by George Murray, Royal Geographical Society London (1901) SPRI Library Shelf (*7)

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Expedition, 1830-1833 to Antarctica and surrounding Islands and miscellaneous papers regarding Antarctic voyages.

System of Arrangement

The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of material relating directly to the British Expedition, 1830-1833 and miscellaneous papers.

Administrative Information

Accruals

Further accessions possible.

Access Conditions

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.

Copyright/Reproduction

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning devise by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.

Note

Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the item is signed by the author.

Further Information

Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue. Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Related Units of Description

See SPRI collection GB 0015 Hobart Marine Board and GB 0015 Messrs Enderby (particularly MS 1172;D Enderby, Messrs. Letter (copy) to J. Biscoe, 9 July 1833 giving instructions for expedition that Biscoe withdrew from, 1833-1834)

Archivist's Note

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to 'John Biscoe, Master Mariner 1794-1843' by Ann Margaret Savours in The Polar Record (May 1983) volume 21 number 134 p485-492 and The dictionary of national biography, missing persons ed. by Christine S. Nicholls, Oxford University Press (1994) and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (*7) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events,(1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034


Reference: GB 0015 John Biscoe

Biscoe, British Expedition

Dates of creation: 1830-1833
Extent: Journal and letter. MS 600/9/1;MJ is on microfilm.
Name of Creator: John Biscoe


Administrative/Biographical History

The British Expedition, 1830-1833 (Captain John Biscoe) was dispatched by Messrs Enderby on a voyage of exploration for sealing and whaling opportunities. The two expedition ships, Tula and Lively circumnavigated Antarctica, visiting the Falkland Islands, searched for the 'Aurora Islands' (Shag Rocks) and visited the South Sandwich Islands. On 24 February 1831 they sighted the Antarctic mainland naming part of east Antarctica Enderby Land for their employers. After wintering in Australia the vessels visited Chatham Islands and Bounty Islands and searched for 'Nimrod Island'. On their return to the Antarctic mainland Biscoe roughly charted the southern extension of Trinity Land and Palmer Land (Antarctic Peninsula). Lively was wrecked at the Falkland Islands in July 1832

Scope and Content

  • MS 479;BJ Journal, 14 July 1830 to 30 January 1833 [Voyage towards the South Pole onboard Tula] photocopy
  • MS 600/9/1-2;MJ & BJ Journal, 1830-1833, microfilm
  • MS 596;BJ Journal extracts, 1830-1833, photocopy
  • MS 1172;D Letter to Captain Francis Beaufont, 10 April 1832 [Regarding Biscoe's belief that he had discovered part of the Antarctic continent] 2 leaves, typescript

System of Arrangement

Chronological.

Administrative Information

Existence of Copies

These journals are copies.

Existence/Location of Originals

MS 479;BJ Original held by the Royal Geographical Society [This journal was kept in duplicate and the other copy was deposited at the British Museum] of which MS 600/9/1-2MJ & BJ is a copy although this journal differs from the one retained by the Royal Geographical Society. MS 596;BJ Originals in British Museum [These are copies of the pages in the British Museum journal which differ from the journal retained by the Royal Geographical Society], MS 1172;D Original in British Admiralty, Hydrographic Department (in 1982)

Further Information

Related Units of Description

See SPRI collections GB 0015 Hobart Marine Board, and GB 0015 Tasmanian Government.


Reference: GB 0015 John Biscoe

Biscoe, miscellaneous papers

Dates of creation: 1830-1893
Extent: Sailing directions, correspondence, bills of landing
Name of Creator: John Biscoe


Administrative/Biographical History

Miscellaneous papers created by Biscoe regarding voyages in the southern oceans and personal matters collated from collections outside of the Institute.

Scope and Content

  • MS 1314;D Papers, 1830 to 1893 [Includes sailing directions for the Falkland Islands, Letters to Messrs Enderby, 8 October 1831 and 17 March 1832, 19 bills of lading] 78 leaves, Xerox
  • MS 511;D Letter to Miss Emma Crowe, 12 December 1834 [Miss Crowe was his future wife] autograph

System of Arrangement

Chronological.

Administrative Information

Existence of Copies

MS 1314;D is a copy.

Existence/Location of Originals

MS 1314;D Original in Mitchell Library part of the State Library of New South Wales, Australia (in 1982)