Dr John Robertson collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Robertson to his commanding officer on the two expeditions, (British Naval Expedition, 1839-1843 and British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1849) Sir James Clark Ross.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr John Robertson served on the British Naval Expedition, 1839-1843 (leader James Clark Ross), as ship's surgeon on board HMS Terror. The voyage was organized to conduct a series of magnetic observations in the southern hemisphere and to locate and reach the South Magnetic Pole. On his return from the Antarctic, Robertson returned to Tasmania where he wrote an article on the voyage for the Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science.

Robertson was later appointed surgeon in HMS Enterprise on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1849 (leader James Clark Ross), sent by the Admiralty to the Arctic in search of Sir John Franklin's lost expedition. The expedition's exploring parties sledged to within 180 miles of the point where the missing vessels had been abandoned, but on attempting to sail westward through Barrow Strait, HMS Enterprise and HMS Investigator were beset and drifted back with the ice into Baffin Bay.

Published work, 'A few general remarks on the Antarctic continent discovered by Captains Ross and Crozier' by J. Robertson in Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science, Hobart (1843) SPRI Library Shelf Pam 91(08)(7)[1839-1843]


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 Ross in the Antarctic; the voyages of James Clark Ross in Her Majesty's ships Erebus & Terror 1839-1843 by Maurice James Ross, Caedmon of Whitby (1982) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1839-1843 Ross] and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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.