John Palliser collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Palliser to Mrs Osborn regarding the British Sport Hunting Expedition, 1869 to the Russian Arctic [Novaya Zemlya/Kara Sea]

Administrative / Biographical History

John Palliser was born on 29 January 1817 in Dublin. In 1834, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, but abandoned his studies in 1838 without taking a degree. In 1839, he received an appointment as captain in the Waterford Artillery Militia, seeing little active service before resigning his commission in 1864. During 1844, he served as High Sheriff of Waterford, later serving as Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace. In 1847, he set out on a hunting expedition to North America, spending eleven months hunting on the prairies and observing the lives of Indians and fur-traders. His experiences were published in 1853 under the title Solitary rambles and adventures of a hunter in the prairies. In 1856, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the following year was appointed leader of an expedition instructed to explore a large part of British North America and to determine practicable passes across the Rocky Mountains within British territories. The expedition earned Palliser the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1859, and a CMG in 1877. He succeeded to the family estates on his father's death in November 1862, the year in which he travelled to the West Indies on a semi-official mission.

In 1868, he undertook a voyage to Svalbard in an attempt to hunt for sport but found that game had become scarce on the islands. The following year he travelled farther east with his brother, Frederick Hugh, to Novaya Zemlya and the Kara Sea to hunt walruses, seals and polar bears. He died on 18 August 1887 at Comragh House, Kilmacthomas, County Waterford.


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 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 Palliser surnames and Dictionary of Canadian Biography

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