Robert Chalmers collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Chalmers to Robert Falcon Scott regarding the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (led by Scott).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Chalmers was born in London in 1858. He was educated at the City of London School and Oriel College, Oxford. In 1882, after passing his civil service examinations, he was appointed a clerk in the Treasury, and by 1903, had been promoted to assistant secretary. In 1907, he accepted the post of chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, where he was largely responsible for the formation of the Board of Customs and Excise. Chalmers was knighted in 1908, and in 1911, he returned to the Treasury as permanent secretary and auditor of the civil list. Two years later, Chalmers was appointed governor of Ceylon [Sri Lanka], returning to the Treasury as joint permanent secretary in 1916. Almost immediately, he accepted the temporary post of under-secretary to the chief secretary of Ireland, resuming his former office at the Treasury later in the year.

On his retirement in 1919, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Chalmers of Northiam and was appointed master of Peterhouse, Cambridge. From 1920 to 1922, he served as a member of the Royal Commission on the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He died in Oxford in 1938.


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 Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-1940, with an index covering the years 1901-1940 in one alphabetical series, Oxford University Press, London (1950) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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.