mile-Frdric de Bray collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Henry Kellett).

Administrative / Biographical History

mile-Frdric de Bray was born on 9 March 1829 in Paris. On completing his education at the cole Navale in 1846, he served in the French Navy, advancing to the rank of sub-lieutenant in 1851. In 1852, he volunteered for the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Henry Kellett), serving as enseigne de vaisseau and acting mate in HMS Resolute, sent to the Arctic by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing expedition. During the autumn of 1852, de Bray participated in a sledging journey to set up a depot at Cape Providence, Melville Island, and the following spring led a support party, which accompanied Francis Leopold McClintock's sledging party to northwest Melville Island.

On his return, de Bray was promoted lieutenant-commander in 1855 and commander in 1869. In 1871, he was made an officer of the Lgion d'Honneur for his role in the defence of Paris in 1870 when he commanded a marine battalion and an army brigade. He spent the remainder of his career on shore service in France, retiring due to ill health in 1878. He died on 19 March 1879 at Brest, France. His friend Jules Verne made extensive use of de Bray's knowledge of the Arctic in the novel Voyages et aventures du Capitaine Hatteras. Les Anglais au Ple Nord - Le Desert de glace.

Published work A Frenchman in search of Franklin, de Bray's Arctic journal 1852-1854, translated and edited by William Barr, University of Toronto Press Toronto (1992) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1852-1854]


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 'Bray, mile-Frdric de' by Clive Holland in Dictionary of Canadian Biography volume 10 edited by Marc La Terreur, University of Toronto Press Toronto (1972) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08)[pub.1966-]

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 material by de Bray. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.