Henry Ponsonby collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Sir Henry written on behalf of Queen Victoria relating to the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares)

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Henry Frederick Ponsonby was born on 10 December 1825 in Corfu, the eldest son of Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby. In December 1842, he entered the army as an ensign in the 49th regiment, later transferring to the grenadier guards. Promoted lieutenant in 1844, captain in 1848 and major in 1849, he served during the Crimean War, advancing to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1855. After the war, he was appointed equerry to the Prince Consort, serving until 1862 when he was sent to Canada in command of a battalion of the Grenadier Guards. Promoted major general in 1868, he was appointed Private Secretary to Queen Victoria in 1870. In 1878, he was appointed Keeper of the Privy Purse and the following year was knighted. Retiring in May 1895, he died on 21 November 1895 at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.


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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and Dictionary of National Biography volume 46, Smith, Elder and Co. London (1896)

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