Bedford Pim collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating tot he British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Henry Kellett) and correspondence by Pim regarding the search for Franklin in general

Administrative / Biographical History

Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pim was born on 12 June 1826 at Bideford, Devon. He was educated at the Royal Naval School, New Cross, entering the Royal Navy in 1842. In 1845, he was appointed to HMS Herald under Henry Kellett, employed in survey work in the Pacific Ocean. During the summers of 1848 to 1850, he was detached from this service to serve on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1850 (leader Henry Kellett), sent by the Admiralty to Bering Strait to assist HMS Plover in the search for Sir John Franklin's missing expedition. During the winter of 1849 to 1850, Pim joined Plover under Thomas Moore and was ordered to make a journey from Kotzebue Sound to Mikhailovsk to question the inhabitants of that area concerning Franklin's missing ships. On his return to England in 1851, he was promoted lieutenant.

During the winter of 1851 to 1852, Pim, with official British support, made a journey to St. Petersburg, in an unsuccessful attempt to promote a search for the Franklin expedition on the north Siberian shore. On his return to England, he was appointed to HMS Resolute under Kellett on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Sir Edward Belcher), instructed by the Admiralty to search for Franklin's expedition in the region of Melville Island in company with HMS Intrepid. Kellett's ships sailed with Belcher's as far as Beechey Island, Barrow Strait, before parting from the rest of the squadron and proceeding to Dealy Island off the south coast of Melville Island where they put into winter quarters. In March 1853, Pim travelled across McClure Strait with surgeon William Domville to locate HMS Investigator (Robert McClure) at Mercy Bay. McClure's crew were later transferred to Resolute and Intrepid in the spring of 1853. In the summer of 1853, the Resolute and Intrepid became beset in Melville Sound and were forced to spend a further winter in the Arctic. Receiving orders from Belcher to abandon both vessels, the crews travelled to Beechey Island where they returned to England in the depot ship HMS North Star and the supply ships HMS Phoenix and HMS Talbot.

In 1855, Pim was appointed to command HMS Magpie in the Baltic during the Crimean War, later commanding HMS Banterer in Chinese waters, where he was severely wounded. Promoted commander in 1859, he was placed in command of HMS Gorgon on the West India Station, where he surveyed the proposed route for a canal to the Pacific across Nicaragua. After commanding HMS Fury on the coast of Africa, Pim returned to England, retiring from active service in 1861. As a civilian, he made three more journeys to America on business connected with the Nicaraguan railway. He later studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1873, establishing a practice in which he dealt principally with Admiralty cases. In 1874, he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Gravesend and was re-elected in 1880. Promoted rear-admiral in 1885, he died on 30 September 1886 at Deal in Kent.

Published work An earnest appeal to the British public on behalf of the missing Arctic expedition by Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan Pim, Hurst and Blackett London (1857) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(091)[1847-1859 Franklin search]


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of expedition material and correspondence respectively

Conditions Governing Access

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 'Pim, Bedford Clapperton Trevelyan' by Leslie H Neatby in Dictionary of Canadian Biography volume 11 edited by Francess G Halpenny, University of Toronto Press Toronto (1982) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08)[pub.1966-] 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

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