Papers of Charles Sturt

Scope and Content

The collection contains:

  • Journals, letters and maps relating to Sturt's three expeditions of discovery into the interior of Southern and Central Australia (1828-1829, 1829-1830, 1844-1846)
  • Correspondence (1828-1869)
  • Notebook of Mrs. Napier George Sturt (including parts of her book entitled the Life of Charles Sturt sometime Capt. 39th Regt and Australian explorer, 1899)
  • Pamphlets and maps on Australian exploration
  • Calendar of the Sturt papers

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Sturt was born on the 28 April 1795 in Bengal, India, where his father, Thomas Lenox Napier Sturt, was a puisne judge in the East India Company's service. He was educated in England at Astbury in Cheshire, and at Harrow.

Sturt entered the British Army in 1813 and saw service in Spain, Canada, France, and Ireland. In 1827 he went to Australia where he was appointed Military Secretary to the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Ralph Darling.

In 1828-1829 Sturt led the first of his major expeditions in Australia; he traced the Macquarie, Bogan, and Castlereagh rivers and discovered the Darling River. In his next expedition down the Murrumbidgee river (1829-1830) he discovered the Murray River and followed it to its source near Adelaide. Between 1844-1846 Sturt led his third major expedition north from Adelaide to the edge of Simpson Desert; his party became the first to penetrate the centre of the continent.

In addition to his expeditions Sturt was also Assistant Commissioner of Lands (1839-1842) and Registrar-General with a seat in the Executive and Legislative Councils (1842-1849). He was Colonial Treasurer from September 1845, and in August 1849 became Colonial Secretary, a post he held until his retirement in 1851.

In 1853 Sturt moved with his family to England. He was a fellow of the Linnean Society and the Royal Geographical Society (who presented him with their founder's gold medal in May 1847). Sturt died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England on the 16 June 1869.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Marion Lowman, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Administrative/Biographical History compiled with reference to the Dictionary of National Biographyand Encyclopaedia Britannica .

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room and a handlist is also available for this collection.

Listed as no. 74 in Manuscript Collections (excluding Africana) in Rhodes House Library, Oxford, compiled by Louis B. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1970).

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.


Sturt wrote about his expeditions in: Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia, 1828-1831 (1833) and Narrative of an Expedition into Central Australia (1849).