The collection comprises of material relating to the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (led by Austin) and correspondence by Austin regarding the search for Sir John Franklin and his missing expedition.
Sir Horatio Austin collection
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- ReferenceGB 15 Sir Horatio Austin
- Dates of Creation1850-1851
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical DescriptionExpedition material (4 leaves) correspondence (24 leaves)
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Horatio Thomas Austin was born in 1801 in England, the son of an official in the Chatham dockyard. In 1813, he joined the Navy under the patronage of Captain Sir Thomas Hardy, soon afterwards serving in Ramillies during the American War of 1812-1814. For the next nine years, he served as midshipman off the coast of Africa, in the English Channel and on the South America station. In 1824, Austin joined the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1824-1825 (leader William Edward Parry), as first lieutenant in HMS Fury under Captain Henry Hoppner.
Austin was appointed to another scientific exploring expedition in 1827, bound for the Caribbean and Antarctic, serving as first lieutenant in the surveying vessel, Chanticleer, before succeeding to the acting command in 1831 after Captain Henry Foster was drowned. Promoted commander on his return in 1831, he commanded in European waters, later undertaking research on the use of steam vessels in the Navy.
In 1838, he advanced to the rank of captain and was appointed to the steam vessel Cyclops, participating in the Syrian War, during which he assisted in the capture of Sidon. He was involved in further work connected with steamers until he took charge of Woolwich dockyard in 1849.
In 1850, Austin was appointed leader of the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851, serving as captain of HMS Resolute, sent by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition by way of Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. During the expedition, Erasmus Ommanney discovered the first evidence that Franklin had in fact reached the Canadian Arctic. The expedition also conducted extensive coastal surveys and observations of topography, geology, fauna and meteorology.
In 1854, Austin was appointed captain superintendent of Deptford dockyard, later taking up an appointment as rear-admiral superintendent of Malta dockyard in 1863. Retiring with the rank of vice-admiral in 1864, he was knighted in March 1865. He died on 16 November 1865 in London.
The collection is split into to two sub-fonds comprising of expedition material and correspondence respectively
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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 'Austin, Sir Horatio Thomas' by Clive Holland in Dictionary of Canadian Biography volume 9, edited by Francess G Halpenny, University of Toronto Press, Toronto (1976) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08) and United Service Magazine and Naval Military Journal part 3 p606 (1865) SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Austin, Sir Horatio Thomas]
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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