The Southern Whale Fishery Company collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence relating to the company.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Southern Whale Fishery Company was established in 1849 by Charles Enderby of the sealing and whaling firm, Messrs Enderby, to manage a whaling station on the Auckland Islands. Messrs Enderby had been in decline following losses made by exploring expeditions, and the destruction of its Greenwich rope-making factory by fire in 1845. Looking for a way to revive the firm's fortunes, Charles Enderby sought government backing to establish a settlement on the Auckland Islands 'for the purpose of the whale fishery, as a station at which to discharge the cargoes and refit vessels'.

The Southern Whale Fishery Company was granted a Royal Charter and Charles was appointed lieutenant governor of the Auckland Islands. He himself chose to lead the expedition, even though he had never before participated in such a voyage. Three vessels, loaded with settlers and stores, arrived at Port Ross on the north end of Enderby Island in December 1849, and land was cleared for the colony and whaling station. However, the cold, damp climate and acid soils made agriculture impossible, and the eight whaling ships attached to the station caught very few whales.

In 1852, Enderby Settlement was dismantled and closed. Charles Enderby returned to London the following year. This ill-fated enterprise further overstrained the resources of Messrs Enderby, which was liquidated in 1854.


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 Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and BBC and The Enderby Settlement by Barbara Ludlow 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.

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.