James Elliott collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Arctic and correspondence by Elliott regarding the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Austin)

Administrative / Biographical History

James Edward Elliott was born in 1813 in Cornwall. He was appointed second lieutenant and navigator in HMS Assistance under Erasmus Ommanney, on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Austin), sent by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition by way of Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. During the expedition, Ommanney discovered the first evidence that Franklin had in fact reached the Canadian Arctic, finding signs of a field camp at Cape Riley, Devon Island, and a cairn and other relics on Beechey Island, which was subsequently shown to have been Franklin's winter quarters in 1845 and 1846.

In 1853, Elliott was appointed first lieutenant in HMS Phoenix on the British Naval Supply Voyage (leader Edward Augustus Inglefield), sent in company with HMS Breadalbane with fresh supplies for the ships of the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Sir Edward Belcher). Elliott returned to Barrow Strait in HMS Phoenix the following year on the British Naval Supply Voyage (leader Edward Inglefield). After the expedition, Elliott served as a commander in the Coastguard. He died in 1865


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of Arctic papers and correspondence respectively

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 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