Henry Feilden collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Feilden regarding botanical and polar matters.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Wemyss Feilden was born in Kildare in 1838. He was educated at Cheltenham College and in 1856, was commissioned into the army, serving in India and China before volunteering for the Confederate army during the American Civil War. An amateur naturalist with a particular interest in ornithology, Feilden was appointed by the Royal Society of London to serve as one of two naturalists with the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares). The expedition was sent by the Admiralty to attempt to reach the North Pole by way of Smith Sound and to explore the coasts of Greenland and adjacent lands. Feilden participated in several sledging journeys, making important collections and observations, especially on the geology and biology of the region.

After the expedition, Feilden returned to active service, participating in the South African campaign between 1880 and 1881. He visited Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya as a naturalist on private expeditions between 1894 and 1897, publishing short notes on his findings. During the Boer War, he returned to South Africa as Paymaster of the Imperial Yeomanry, retiring from the army as a colonel. He died in 1921.


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.

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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 and 'Henry Wemyss Feilden, naturalist on HMS Alert, 1875-1876' by Trevor H. Levere in, The Polar Record (October 1988) volume 24 number 151 p307-312 and British polar exploration and research, a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W. Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A.L. Myres, Savannah Publications London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2

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.

Related Material

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library. This material includes collections for the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1976. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.