Sir Edward Inglefield collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Franklin Search Expedition, 1852 (led by Inglefield) and correspondence by Sir Edward to Jane, Lady Franklin and her companion Sophia Cracroft regarding the search for Sir John Franklin.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Augustus Inglefield was born in 1820 at Cheltenham into a family of distinguished naval stock. At the age of twelve, he entered the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth, joining the Royal Navy two years later and serving in South America, North Africa and the West Indies. Promoted commander, he was appointed to lead the British Franklin Search Expedition in 1852, sponsored by Lady Franklin and by public subscription to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition in Jones Sound and along the west coast of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. Sailing from Peterhead in the steam-yacht Isabel, Inglefield stopped at west Greenland to obtain dogs before proceeding north and entering Smith Sound, which he penetrated to 78° 28 minutes North. During his surveys around the entrance to Smith Sound, Inglefield charted about 1,000km of new coast and he later made a brief examination of Jones Sound, reaching 84° 10 minutes West before turning back. On the return voyage, he continued the search for Franklin along the east coast of Baffin Island as far as Cumberland Sound before the approach of winter forced him to sail home. On his return, Inglefield was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and his narrative of the expedition was published in 1853.

In 1853, Inglefield was placed in command of HMS Phoenix on the British Naval Supply Voyage, sent by the Admiralty to deliver supplies and dispatches to the five vessels under Sir Edward Belcher's command. Sailing in company with the transport vessel HMS Breadalbane, Inglefield reached Beechey Island, Barrow Strait where North Star, one of Belcher's vessels, was anchored. In August 1853, Joseph-Ren Bellot, a French lieutenant and volunteer in Phoenix, was drowned in Wellington Channel on his way from Beechey Island to deliver messages to Belcher. Later in the same month, Breadalbane was nipped in the ice and sank off Beechey Island. After relieving Belcher's expedition, Inglefield returned home in October 1853 and was promoted captain. Returning with Phoenix and HMS Talbot to Beechey Island in 1854 to re-supply Belcher's ships, Inglefield succeeded in bringing home most of the personnel of HMS Investigator and the four abandoned vessels of Belcher's expedition.

After the voyage, Inglefield participated in naval operations during the Crimean War, later serving as British naval attach in Washington in 1871. In 1872, he was appointed rear admiral of the dockyard at Malta and second in command of the Mediterranean fleet, later serving as vice-admiral commander-in-chief of the North America and West Indies Station between 1878 and 1879. He was knighted in 1877 and retired as admiral in 1885, after which he devoted much of his time to painting. His watercolours of Arctic landscapes were exhibited at several art galleries in London. He died on 4 September 1894 at London.

Published work A summer search for Sir John Franklin; with a peep into the polar basin by Edward Augustus Inglefield, Thomas-Harrison London (1853) SPRI Library Special Collection (41)91(08)[1852 Inglefield]


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of expedition material 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 'Edward August Inglefield' by Frances J Woodward in The Polar Record volume 5 numbers 35/36 December 1958 p189-192 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 and Scottish Geographical Magazine volume 11 number 1 1895 p21-22 SPRI Library Shelf 92[Inglefield, Sir E.]

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, some of which includes images of Inglefield. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.