Great Britain, Admiralty collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material emanating from the Admiralty regarding expeditions and personnel. By far the largest part of the collection relates to Admiral Crawford Conybeare who took part in the British Arctic Expedition, 1875 (leader George Strong Nares).

Administrative / Biographical History

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the office of Lord Admiral (later Lord High Admiral) was responsible for policy direction, operational control and maritime jurisdiction of the British navy, although administrative affairs concerning the Naval Service were overseen by a Navy Board created by Henry VIII in 1546. Originally, this office was maintained by a single person until 1628 when Charles I effectively established the first Board of Admiralty, consisting of Lords Commissioners, whose head was the First Lord, the minister who was the political master of the Navy. The Board of Admiralty and the Navy Board administered the Navy until 1832, when the Board of Admiralty was invested with all the powers and duties of the Navy Board. The Board of Admiralty continued to exercise its duties until 1964, when it was amalgamated with two other departments of state into the Ministry of Defence.


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of correspondence and miscellaneous material 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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 and Ministry of Defence and Flags of the world

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

See also SPRI collection GB 015 Great Britain Admiralty, Hydrographic Department.