Andrew Coats collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Coats with the polar explorer William Speirs Bruce and the geographer and meteorologist Hugh Robert Mill

Administrative / Biographical History

Andrew Coats was born on 27 May 1852, sixth son of Thomas Coats, a partner in a wealthy firm of thread manufacturers in Paisley, Scotland. In 1898, he led the British Sport-hunting and Scientific Expedition, primarily a private sporting expedition for shooting bears and walruses, but with some scientific programs to be conducted by the naturalist William Speirs Bruce. Sailing in Blencathra from Gare Loch in Scotland, the expedition called at Trompsø before heading for Novaya Zemlya. As they sailed through the Barents Sea, Bruce began meteorological and other observations and also began tow netting and trawling for biological samples. In June, Blencathra made two landings in the southwest of Novaya Zemlya before sailing to Vardø for more supplies. In July, the expedition took the ship along the edge of the pack ice almost to Novaya Zemlya, dredging, tow netting, and trawling continually and charting the ice edge. After the expedition, Bruce published his natural history observations and his records of deep-sea soundings in the Barents Sea.

Andrew Coats and his younger brother, James, later provided generous financial support to Bruce's Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904. This expedition conducted the first oceanographic exploration of the Weddell Sea and discovered Coats Land, an area of East Antarctica between the Weddell Sea and 20° West, named for the two brothers.

Coats later served as a major with the sixth battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry, participating in the Boer War in South Africa between 1900 and 1901, for which he was awarded the D.S.O. in 1900. He died on 17 February 1930.


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient

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 Who was who, 1929-1940 Adam & Charles Black London (1947)

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.

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Further accessions possible