The collection comprises of correspondence by Barrow written during the time he was Second Secretary of the Admiralty.
Sir John Barrow collection
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 15 Sir John Barrow
- Dates of Creation1818-1843
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical DescriptionCorrespondence (9 leaves)
- Direct Link
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
John Barrow was born on 19 June 1764 at Dragleybeck, near Ulverston, North Lancashire. He was educated at Ulverston Grammar School until the age of thirteen. He worked as a clerk in an iron foundry for two years, after which he was offered a place on a voyage to Greenland in a whaler. On his return, he became a teacher of mathematics at the Greenwich Academy in London and a private tutor to the son of Sir George Staunton. Through his friendship with Staunton, Barrow was appointed as Comptroller of the Household on the staff of the newly appointed Ambassador to China, Lord Macartney. Barrow became conversant with the language, literature and science of China. In 1797, Lord Macartney asked Barrow to join his staff as Private Secretary on his important mission to settle the Government of the Cape of Good Hope. He travelled extensively in southern Africa, remaining in the Cape as Auditor-General of Public Accounts. On return to England in 1803, he published two volumes on his travels in southern Africa. In 1804, he was appointed by Lord Melville as Second Secretary of the Admiralty, but was removed from the post after a change of government in 1806. He was re-instated as Second Secretary of the Admiralty in 1807 and was largely responsible for the resurgence of polar exploration, encouraging expeditions to the North Pole and the search for the Northwest Passage. Barrow also played a vital part in founding the Royal Geographical Society in 1830. He remained in the Admiralty until his retirement in 1845 and died in 1849.
Published work, An auto-biographical memoir of Sir John Barrow, Bart, late of the Admiralty, including reflections, observations, and reminiscences at home and abroad, from early life to advanced age John Murray, London (1847) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Barrow, J.]
The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.
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Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Memoirs of hydrography including brief biographies of the principal officers who have served in H.M. Naval Surveying Service between the years 1750 and 1885 by L.S. Dawson, Cornmarket Press, London (1969) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08) and The Geographical Journal (September 1964) volume 130 part 3 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.
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