Graeme Spence: Description of the Scilly Isles

Scope and Content

A nautical description and survey of the Scilly Isles taken 1790-1792 by Graeme Spence, made by order of the Admiralty, 158 folios: (p. 1) explanatory introduction; (p. 1) geographical description; (p. 13) nautical description; (p. 109) account of the tides followed by tide-tables.

Attached to p. 21 is a slip of paper containing a note of a ship being struck and pierced by a swordfish near Barbados (dated Liverpool, 10 October 1796). There is also an extract from the Herald newspaper, 4 August 1818, describing a ship striking a whale between Waterford and Milford Haven. A note at the foot of p. v states: 'A clean copy of this was given in to the Admiralty on the 8th of April 1797'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Graeme Spence (c. 1758-1812), maritime surveyor to the Admiralty, surveyed large parts of the British coast and ports and the West India Docks in London. In 1789 he was charged by the Admiralty with surveying the Isles of Scilly, completing his work in 1792. He later acted as pilot to Lord Nelson on HMS Medusa. Spence invented many instruments and survey apparatus, several of which were used by the Royal Navy.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Bequeathed by Francis Jenkinson, 1923.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Corporate Names

Geographical Names