Sir William Wharton collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence with Robert Falcon Scott regarding the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904.

Administrative / Biographical History

William James Lloyd Wharton was born in London on 2 March 1843. He was educated at the Royal Navy Academy in Gosport, entering the Royal Navy in 1857. Advancing to lieutenant in 1865, he served in a surveying vessel on the North America station. In 1869, he was appointed flag-lieutenant at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, and three years later, was promoted commander. From 1872 to 1880, he conducted surveys in the Mediterranean and on the east coast of Africa. Promoted captain in 1880, he conducted surveys on the coast of South America and, in 1882, published Hydrographical Surveying, a Description of the Methods employed in constructing Marine Charts, which became a standard textbook on the subject.

In 1884, he was appointed Hydrographer to the Royal Navy, resigning this post in 1904 due to ill-health. He was promoted rear admiral on the retired list in 1895 and was knighted in 1897. In 1899, he took a prominent part in the work of the Joint Antarctic Committee of the Royal and Royal Geographical Societies. While on a visit to South Africa in 1905, Wharton contracted enteric fever and died on 29 September 1905.


The correspondence 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 The Dictionary of National Biography Second Supplement volume 3, Smith, Elder & Co. London (1912) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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.

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Further accessions possible.