Wyatt Rawson collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares) and to correspondence by Rawson

Administrative / Biographical History

Wyatt Rawson was born on 27 August 1853. He entered the Royal Navy in 1866, later serving during the Ashanti War between 1873 and 1874, for which he was promoted lieutenant in March 1874. He was appointed third lieutenant in HMS Discovery on the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares), sent by the Admiralty to attempt to reach the North Pole by way of Smith Sound and to explore the coasts of Greenland and adjacent lands. Following his transfer to HMS Alert in August 1875, Rawson undertook a sledge journey with sub-lieutenant George Egerton in March 1876, during which they saved the life of Danish dog-driver Niels Petersen.

After the expedition, Rawson served in the Mediterranean and as aide-de-camp to General Wolseley during the Egyptian campaign. Following a serious injury, he died in HMS Carthage as the ship was entering Malta harbour on 21 September 1882. He was specially promoted to commander in September 1882.


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of expedition material and correspondence 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 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 'Commander Wyatt Rawson' in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society volume 4 number 11 November 1882 p697-700 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Rawson, Wyatt] 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

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