Rutherford Alcock collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Alcock to the Arctic explorer George Strong Nares written when Alcock was President of the Royal Geographical Society.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rutherford Alcock was born in 1809. Following his father into the medical profession, he became a surgeon in the Marine Brigade in Portugal in 1833, later serving with the Spanish Legion until 1837. In 1840, he was appointed consul in Shanghai, advancing to the consulate in Canton in 1854. In 1858, Alcock accepted the post of consul-general in Japan, and the following year became the first British Minister to Japan. He was knighted on his return to Britain in 1862, following an attack by a band of Ronins. Returning to Japan the next year, he resumed his ministerial post, serving until 1865 when he was appointed British Minister to China. Retiring in 1871, he served as president of the Royal Geographical Society between 1876 and 1878. His publications on Japan include The Capital of the Tycoon, published in 1863 and Art and Art Industries in Japan, published in 1878. He died on 2 November 1897 in London.


The correspondence is on microfilm

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 Who was who, 1897-1916, Adam & Charles Black, London (1920) and 1911 encyclopaedia and Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing London (1994)

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