Francis Skead collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1855 (leader Richard Collinson)

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Skead was born on 9 April 1823 at Chatham, Kent. He was educated at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, entering the Royal Navy in 1838. He later served in HMS Modeste off the Cape of Good Hope and HMS Starling during the First China War where he gained his first experience in survey work. After passing his master's examination in 1848, he served on the Cape of Good Hope Station from 1848 until 1849.

On his return to England, Skead was appointed second master in HMS Enterprise on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1855 (leader Richard Collinson), sent by the Admiralty to search for Franklin's missing Northwest passage expedition by way of Bering Strait.

On his return from the Arctic, Skead was appointed master and assistant surveyor to the Cape of Good Hope, serving until 1856 when he succeeded to the charge of the survey. Retiring from active service in the Navy in 1865, he took up the post of harbour master at Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony, a post he held until his retirement in 1889. He died in 1891.


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 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 'Francis Skead, Hydrographer' by J R Heaton in Africana Notes and News volume 21 number 7 (1975) p281-285 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Skead, Francis] 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