Silvanus Crosby collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the United States Sealing Voyage, 1791-1794 (Captain Elijah Coffin) from Nantucket to the Southern Indian Ocean.

Administrative / Biographical History

Silvanus Crosby was born circa 1747. He was living in Nantucket, Connecticut, when he joined the United States sealing voyage (from Nantucket), 1791-1794 (leader Elijah Coffin). Leaving Nantucket on 30 September 1791 in Asia, accompanied by Bartlett Coffin in Alliance, the two vessels sailed to Cape Town, arriving there in January 1792 before sailing to Ile Saint-Paul, where Crosby reported that a sealer from Bengal had taken around 15,000 seal skins. After sailing to Australia to refit the vessels, they sailed west across the Indian Ocean in June, arriving at Mauritius in August. Following a short period of whaling at Madagascar, the vessels returned to Port Louis, Mauritius, to charter a schooner, Hunter, as a tender for Asia.

All three vessels sailed to Iles Kerguelen where they remained for fifteen months from December 1792. In February 1793, Bartlett Coffin died and was buried at Port Washington. Returning to Mauritius, Asia and Alliance caught whales off the south eastern coast of Africa, before Asia sailed to the West Indies, returning to Nantucket some time in 1794.


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 Eighteenth century Nantucket whaling, as compiled from the original logs and journals of the Nantucket Athenaeum and the Nantucket whaling museum by Douglass C. Fonda Jr, Nantucket (1969) SPRI Library Shelf Pam 639.245.1 [United States] and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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.

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.

Geographical Names