Allen Young collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Young relating to Arctic and Antarctic exploration including the search for the missing British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin) and the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott)

Administrative / Biographical History

Allen William Young was born on 12 December 1827 at Twickenham. In 1842, he joined the Merchant Navy, later commanding Marlborough between 1853 and 1854 and Adelaide during the Crimean War. In 1857, he was appointed second officer and sailing master of Fox on the British Franklin Search Expedition, 1857-1859 (leader Francis Leopold McClintock), a private expedition sponsored by Jane, Lady Franklin and public subscription to search in the area of King William Island for relics of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated Northwest Passage expedition.

In April 1859, Young set out on a sledge journey, exploring the east, south and west coasts of Prince of Wales Island and discovering McClintock Channel. On his return, he was appointed to the command of Fox on the British North Atlantic Telegraph Expedition in 1860, conducting deep-sea soundings by way of the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Labrador in preparation for a proposed telegraph line between Britain and North America.

After this expedition, he travelled to China to assist Sherard Osborn in equipping the Chinese Navy, later commanding a gunboat during the Taiping rebellion from 1862 to 1864. In 1871, he was appointed commissioner to the Maritime Congress of Naples, later serving as commissioner to the National Aid Society.

In 1875, Young led the British Northwest Passage Expedition, a private venture with the objective of reaching the magnetic pole by way of Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound and navigating the Northwest Passage in the same season. Setting out from Southampton in Pandora in June 1875, the expedition entered Lancaster Sound in August, later reaching Beechey Island where they examined relics of the Franklin search expeditions. Continuing into Peel Sound, Pandora was finally beset by heavy ice in Franklin Strait with no hope of further progress. He returned to the Canadian Arctic the following year as captain of Pandora on the British Relief Expedition, landing dispatches for George Strong Nares of the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876. On his return, he was knighted in 1877, later receiving the C.B. in 1881.

Young made his final voyage to the Arctic in 1882 when he commanded the whaler Hope with instructions to search for Benjamin Leigh Smith's missing expedition which had sailed for Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa in 1881. In August 1882, Young met the expedition at Matochkin Shar on the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, which they had reached by boat after their vessel had been crushed in the ice off Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa. Retiring from active service on his return to England, he died on 20 November 1915 in London.

Published work The search for Sir John Franklin, from the journal of Allen Young J. Griffin London (1875) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1857-1859 McClintock], The two voyages of the Pandora in 1875 and 1876 Edward Stanford, London (1879) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1875-1876 Young]


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient

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 Lieutenant Colonel Neville W Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A L Myres, Savannah Publications, London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2 and Dictionary of National Biography, 1912-1921 Oxford University Press, London (1927) and 'Sir Allen Young' by Sir Clements Markham, Geographical Journal volume 47 number 1 January to June 1916 p34-41 and Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events by Robert Keith Headland, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989)

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 images of Young. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.