Messrs Enderby collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence and memorials primarily related to the exploration of the southern oceans and the whaling industry undertaken by captains of Messrs Enderby.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Enderby firm was founded by Samuel Enderby (1720-1797), who was originally apprenticed as a cooper, later setting up his own business in Lower Thames Street, London. He married the daughter of his master, Charles Buxton, an oil cooper and merchant, and subsequently became a ship owner. Later he moved Samuel Enderby & Sons, oil merchants, to Paul's Wharf, Thames Street, and there the firm remained until 1830. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Enderby vessels made profitable voyages to both northern and southern whaling and sealing grounds. After the death of Samuel Enderby Jnr. (1756-1829), the business was inherited by the founder's grandsons, Charles, Henry and George. In 1830, they moved premises to Great St Helens in the City of London.

Charles Enderby encouraged masters to report geographical discoveries and had notable successes with John Biscoe and John Balleny, who between them discovered Enderby Land, Graham Land, the Balleny Islands and the Sabrina Coast. An Enderby captain, Abraham Bristow, had discovered the Auckland Islands in 1806, naming one of the islands Enderby Island. However, by the mid-nineteenth century, the firm's profits were in decline following losses made by the exploring expeditions, and the destruction of the firm's Greenwich rope-making factory by fire in 1845. Whaling vessels, too, required expensive strengthening in order to withstand impact by ice in the Southern Ocean.

Looking for a way to revive the firm's fortunes, Charles sought government backing to establish a whaling station on the Auckland Islands. In 1849, the Southern Whale Fishery Company was established to manage the enterprise and Charles Enderby was appointed lieutenant governor of the islands. However, the colony and whaling station proved financially unsuccessful and the Enderby Settlement was dismantled and closed in 1852. This was the final straw for Messrs Enderby, the firm being liquidated in 1854.


The collection 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 Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and BBC and Ships employed in the South Seas trade, volume 2, 1775-1859 compiled from the Register of Lloyds and the Society of Merchants, Admiralty protections and Aspects of the South Seas trade by A.G.E. Jones, Australian Association for Maritime History Inc. Canberra (1991) SPRI Library Shelf 639.245.1(7) and The Enderby Settlement by Barbara Ludlow and State Library of New South Wales 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.

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.

Corporate Names