Richard Coppinger collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material written during the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares).

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard William Coppinger was born in 1847 in Dublin. He studied medicine at Queen's University in Dublin, graduating MD in 1870. He entered the medical department of the Navy and was appointed surgeon and naturalist in HMS Discovery on the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares). The expedition was sent by the Admiralty to attempt to reach the North Pole by way of Smith Sound and to explore the coasts of Greenland and adjacent lands. Although the attempt to reach the North Pole was unsuccessful, the expedition made some geographical discoveries and returned with a large quantity of scientific data. On his return, Coppinger was promoted staff surgeon and was awarded the Arctic Medal.

Between 1878 and 1882, Coppinger served as a naturalist in HMS Alert during a four-year exploring cruise off Patagonia, and in Polynesian and Mascarene waters. In 1889, he was appointed instructor in hygiene at the Haslar Naval Hospital at Gosport and from March 1901, served as inspector general of hospitals and fleets at Haslar, where he remained in charge for three years. Retiring in 1906, he died on 2 April 1910 at Fareham.

Published work Cruise of the Alert. Four years in Patagonian, Polynesian and Mascarene waters (1878-1882) by Richard William Coppinger, W Swan Sonnenschein and Co. London (1885) SPRI Library Shelf (834.5):91(08)


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 British polar exploration and research a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A L Myres, Savannah Publications London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2 and Dictionary of National Biography Second Supplement volume 1 Smith, Elder & Co. London (1912)

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