Charles Bowen collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Bowen with Robert Falcon Scott.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Christopher Bowen was born in Ireland in 1830. He was educated at Rugby School and studied for one year at the University of Cambridge before emigrating with his family in 1850 to Canterbury, New Zealand. Between 1851 and 1852, he served as private secretary to J.R. Godley, agent of the Canterbury Association, and in 1852, became a justice of the peace.

When the Canterbury provincial government was formed in 1853, Bowen was appointed inspector of police and chief clerk to the resident magistrate and provincial treasurer. Between 1855 and 1859, he served as provincial treasurer and member of the provincial government, and in his spare time he was editor and then joint owner of the Lyttelton Times.

In 1859, he left New Zealand to travel around the world, returning in 1862 to Christchurch where he resumed his duties in the provincial treasury. In 1864, he was appointed resident magistrate, a post he held until 1874, when he was invited to take a seat in the Legislative Council, taking office as minister of justice and commissioner of stamp duties later in the year. In 1877, he introduced an Education Bill, providing for a system of compulsory and free state education, administered by a Department of Education, Education Boards and School Committees.

After his retirement from politics in 1881, Bowen visited England, returning to Christchurch to become managing director of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, manager of the New Zealand Trust and Loan Company, and a director of the New Zealand Shipping Company Limited. In January 1891, Bowen was appointed to a life seat in the Legislative Council and, in 1905, was appointed speaker of the Council. In 1901, he served as a member of the Royal Commission, which recommended against New Zealand joining the new Federation of Australia. As Clements Robert Markham's brother-in-law, Bowen was host to members of the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) and the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott). He was knighted in 1910 and died in New Zealand in 1917.


The correspondence 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 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.