Graham Gore collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin)

Administrative / Biographical History

Graham Gore entered the Royal Navy in 1820, serving as a midshipman at the Battle of Navarino in 1827. He was appointed mate in HMS Terror on the British Naval Exploring Expedition, 1836-1837 (leader George Back), instructed by the Admiralty to sail to Wager Bay and then trace the coast by boat as far as Point Turnagain, thus completing the survey of the north coast of Canada. Back and his officers charted parts of the northeast coast of Southampton Island. Gore was promoted lieutenant during the expedition.

On his return, Gore saw service during the capture of Aden in 1839 and in the China War in 1840. He was appointed first lieutenant in HMS Erebus on the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin), sent to search for a Northwest Passage beyond Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait in the unexplored region south-west of Barrow Strait. Sailing from London in company with HMS Terror in May 1845, the expedition was last seen heading for Lancaster Sound by two whalers in northern Baffin Bay in late July 1845. After that, the expedition disappeared and Europeans never again saw its members alive. Many searches were conducted for the missing expedition, during the course of which the main facts regarding the route taken and final fate of the expedition were established. The two vessels had become beset north of King William Island, where, according to a record left by Gore in May 1847, they had spent the winter of 1846 to 1847. A message appended later by Captain James Fitzjames added that Franklin had died on 11 June 1847 and indicated that Gore had died before the 105 survivors had abandoned the two vessels on 22 April 1848 to set out on their ill-fated journey toward Back River. Gore had been promoted commander in November 1846 during the expedition.


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 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 Deadly winter, the life of Sir John Franklin by Martyn Beardsley, Chatham Publishing, London (2002) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Franklin, John]

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

Related Material

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, which includes daguerreotype images of Gore. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.

Personal Names