John Purdy collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of a series of charts using Mercator's projection of the world. These charts show navigation tracts of several nineteenth century voyages.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Purdy was born in 1773 in Norwich, England, the son of a bookseller. Interested in naval charts from an early age, he was appointed hydrographer for Messrs. Laurie & Whittle in London. Purdy does not appear to have participated in any Hydrographic expeditions himself, confining himself to compiling charts and writing navigational aids based on reports from others. He eventually became the foremost Hydrographic authority of his time. He died on 29 January 1843.

Published work, Memoir descriptive and explanatory to accompany the charts of the northern Atlantic Ocean, and comprising instructions, general and particular for the navigation of that sea by John Purdy, R. H. Laurie London (1845) SPRI Library Shelf Special Collection 656.61.05 [Great Britain] The new sailing directory for the Ethiopic or Southern Atlantic Ocean, including the coast of Brasil, etc. to the Rio de la Plata, the coast thence the Cape Horn, and the African coast to the Cape of Good Hope etc.; including the islands between the two coasts ... Composed and arranged from a great many original and valuable communications, as enumerated in the work by John Purdy, R. H. Laurie London (1837) SPRI Library Shelf Special Collection 656.61.05


The collection comprises of 4 separate charts covering the globe.

Access Information

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.


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 author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Dictionary of National Biography volume 47, Smith, Elder & Co. London (1896) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events,(1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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

Other 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.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device 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.


Further accessions possible.

Personal Names