Herbert Chermside collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Exploring Expedition, 1871 (leader Benjamin Leigh Smith) the British Exploring and Walking Expedition, 1872 (Leader Benjamin Leigh Smith) and the British Exploring Expedition, 1873 (leader Benjamin Leigh Smith) to Svalbard

Administrative / Biographical History

Herbert Charles Chermside was born on 31 July 1850 at Wilton. Following his education at Eton College, he entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in 1870. In 1873, Chermside travelled as a passenger in the steamer Diana on the British Exploring Expedition (leader Benjamin Leigh Smith), a private venture to explore in waters north of Svalbard. After delivering supplies to Nils Otto Gustaf Nordenskild's expedition at Mosselbukta, Diana was beset for a short time off Kapp Platen preventing further progress. The expedition returned to Dundee in September with a variety of natural history collections and observations.

On his return, Chermside served in HMS Hood at Chatham and studied at Portsmouth and Devonport. In 1876, he was employed in Turkey during the operations against Serbia and Montenegro and was acting as military attach when Russia declared war on Turkey in 1877. Remaining attach until 1879, he was appointed military vice-consul in Anatolia and was promoted captain in 1882. The following year, he was appointed to the intelligence staff of a British expeditionary force in Egypt and was given the command of the first battalion of the reconstituted Egyptian army, later taking up an appointment as Governor-General of the Red Sea littoral.

In 1887, Chermside was appointed brevet colonel, returning to consular duties in Kurdistan and later in Constantinople [Istanbul]. In 1897, he was knighted and was appointed British military commissioner and commander of the British troops on Crete, advancing to the rank of major general in 1898. On his return from foreign service in 1899, he was placed in command of the troops at Curragh, later serving in the war in South Africa before resuming command in 1901. Between 1902 and 1904, Chermside served as Governor of Queensland, later retiring from the army with the rank of lieutenant general in 1907. In 1916, he was made colonel-commandant of his own corps, the Royal Engineers. He died on 24 September 1929 in London.


The collection is arranged chronologically

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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and Dictionary of National Biography, 1922-1930, Oxford University Press London (1937)

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