John Simpson collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Simpson to John Barrow regarding the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1852 (leader Thomas Moore)

Administrative / Biographical History

John Simpson was born in 1819. He joined the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1852 (leader Thomas Moore), as assistant surgeon in HMS Plover, sent by the Admiralty to the Bering Strait region to serve as a depot ship for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition and to assist the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1848-1850 (leader Henry Kellett). Simpson rejoined Plover in 1852 on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Rochfort Maguire), with instructions to remain in the Bering Strait region assisting in the Franklin search. His account of the Eskimos of northern Alaska was published after the expedition.

On his return to Britain, Simpson was appointed surgeon at Malta Hospital, where he served during the Crimean War, and was later promoted to the Haslar hospital. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1855 and died in 1859.


The correspondence to Barrow 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 Journal of the Royal Geographical Society volume 30 (1860) page cxxi and British polar exploration and research a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A L Myres, Savannah Publications London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2 and The journal of Rochfort Maguire 1852-1854; two years at Point Barrow, Alaska, aboard HMS Plover in the search for Sir John Franklin edited by John Bockstoce, Hakluyt Society London (1988) SPRI Library Shelf (49)91(08)[1848-1854]

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.

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Further accessions