Edward Kendall collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Naval Exploring Expedition, 1825-1827 (leader John Franklin) and papers by Kendall regarding his naval career

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Nicholas Kendall was born in 1800, the son of a naval captain. He was educated at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth and entered the Royal Navy in 1814, later serving as a midshipman in a succession of ships. His experience in surveying in the North Sea led to his appointment as assistant surveyor on the British Naval Exploring Expedition (leader George Lyon) in 1824, sent to the Canadian Arctic by the Admiralty with the objectives of crossing Melville Peninsula and of exploring part of the north coast of North America. Setting out in HMS Griper in June 1824, the expedition landed on Coats Island, northern Hudson Bay and reported on the Eskimo whom they met there. In Roes Welcome Sound, they were twice nearly shipwrecked and were forced to turn home before reaching Repulse Bay.

On his return, Kendall joined the British Naval Exploring Expedition [second Arctic Land expedition], 1825-1827 (leader John Franklin), sent by the Admiralty to extend exploration of the coast west from Coppermine River to Icy Cape, Alaska. In 1826, Kendall served as assistant surveyor on the eastern branch of the expedition under the command of the surgeon and naturalist, John Richardson, exploring and charting the Arctic coast between the Mackenzie River and the Coppermine River. His Observations on the velocity of sound at different temperatures was published in Franklin's narrative of the expedition in 1828.

Promoted lieutenant on his return to Britain, Kendall joined the British Naval Expedition, 1828-1831 (leader Henry Foster), serving as assistant surveyor in HMS Chanticleer on a scientific voyage to the South Atlantic and to the South Shetland Islands region of the Antarctic. In 1830, he transferred to HMS Hecla to continue a survey of the west coast of Africa that had been interrupted by the death of many of the ship's crew. After his return to England in 1830, Kendall was sent on a confidential mission to determine by astronomical observation disputed points on the boundary between New Brunswick and Maine, later compiling a map of New Brunswick on his return home in 1831.

In 1832, Kendall married a niece of John Franklin, Mary Anne Kay, and the following year was employed by the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Land Company. Returning to Britain in 1838, he was appointed superintendent of the West India Mail Steam Navigation Company and in 1843, joined the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Packet Company, where he remained until his death on 12 February 1845 at Southampton.


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

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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) ISBN number 0824076486 and William Mills Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and 'Kendall, Edward Nicholas' by Clive Holland in Dictionary of Canadian Biography volume 7 ed. Francess G Halpenny, University of Toronto Press, Toronto (1988) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08)[pub.1966-] and Memoirs of Hydrography ... part I 1750-1830 by L S Dawson Cornmarket Press, London (1969) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08)[pub.1969]

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

Related Material

The Institute holds material by Kendall and his wife Mary Ann amongst the Richardson-Voss collection

  • MS 1503/94/2;RV KENDALL EDWARD Signals and table of latitude/longitude (21 June to 10 September)
  • MS 1503/94/3;RV KENDALL EDWARD Copy of Journal of 21 June 1826 to 10 September 1827
  • MS 1503/52/54;RV KENDALL MARY ANNE Letter to John B Richardson, 22 September 1856 [Regarding his mothers death]
  • MS 1503/73/2.10;RV KENDALL MARY ANNE Letter of condolence

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, which includes material for Kendall. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.