Mathew Liddon collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Liddon and biographical information on him.

Administrative / Biographical History

Matthew Liddon joined the Royal Navy in 1804, serving in the West Indies where he was captured by French privateers. On his return to England, he joined HMS Pheasant in 1806, participating in an expedition to the Rio de la Plata under Sir Samuel Auchmuty. Between 1808 and 1818, he served in a succession of ships off the coasts of North America and Britain and in the Mediterranean, advancing to the rank of lieutenant in 1811.

In 1819, he took command of HMS Griper on the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1819-1820 (leader William Edward Parry), sailing in company with HMS Hecla to the Canadian Arctic to seek a passage through Lancaster Sound.

Setting out from London in May 1819, the expedition reached Davis Strait before proceeding to Lancaster Sound where the two vessels continued westward, exploring Prince Regent Inlet before progressing along Barrow Strait. On 6 September 1819, Parry crossed the meridian of 110° West, off the south shore of Melville Island, earning for the expedition the prize of 5,000 offered by Parliament for reaching this longitude. Prevented from progressing still further west by ice conditions, the expedition wintered at Winter Harbour on Melville Island, where the vessels remained until 1 August 1820.

After the expedition, he did not serve at sea again, advancing to the rank of commander in 1821 and retiring as captain in 1856. He died on 31 August 1869 at Clifton, near Bristol.


The collection is arranged in the order it was deposited at the Institute.

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 The Arctic Navy List, or, a century of Arctic and Antarctic Officers 1773-1873... by Clements Markham, Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth (1992) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08) 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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) ISBN number 0824076486 and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003

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.

Personal Names