Sir Clements Markham collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) and a large amount of correspondence on polar matters.

Administrative / Biographical History

Clements Robert Markham was born at Stillingfleet in Yorkshire on 20 July 1830. In 1844, he entered the Navy as a cadet, and in 1850, joined the British naval Franklin search expedition from London, 1850-1851, as midshipman on board HMS Assistance under Captain Erasmus Ommanney. The expedition was sent by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition by way of Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. In addition to discovering Franklin' winter quarters in 1845-1846 on Beechey Island, the expedition conducted extensive coastal surveys and observations of topography, geology, fauna and meteorology. It was this experience that turned Markham to exploration and the study of scientific geography. He retired from the Royal Navy in 1852.

In 1854, Markham became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and started work at the East India Company, afterwards the India Office. He travelled to Peru to collect the cinchona plant, the source of quinine and cure for malaria, and then went to India to found the local quinine industry.

In 1863, Markham became Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, a post he held for the next twenty-five years. He was President of the Society from 1893 to 1905 and was knighted in 1896.

Markham turned his interests to the revival of British Antarctic exploration. He had already played a prominent part in the campaign to obtain official approval for the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares), one of the aims of which was to reach the North Pole. He then went on to devote much enthusiasm and energy to the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904, selecting Robert Falcon Scott as leader of the expedition.

His interest and enthusiasm for exploration and geography continued right up to his death on 29 January 1916.

Published works Antarctic obsession. A personal narrative of the origins of the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 by Clements Robert Markham, edited by Clive Holland, Bluntisham Books Harleston (1986) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1901-1904 Scott]

Biographical work, The life of Sir Clements R. Markham, K.C.B., F.R.S. by Sir Albert Hastings Markham, John Murray, London (1917) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Markham, C.R.]


The collection is split in to two sub-fonds, covering Markham's papers (Diary extracts, notes and reports) and his correspondence respectively.

Access Information

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.


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 The Geographical Magazine (October 1980) volume 53 number 1 p17 and Scottish Geographical Magazine (1916) volume 32 number 3 p140-142 and 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.


Further accessions possible.

Related Material

Biographical note, from SPRI collection Henry Guillemard (MS100/42;D Comments on Markham's character)

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, these include photographs of Sir Clements. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.