Fonds RBSC-ARC-1028 - Belcher Family fonds

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Belcher Family fonds

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Physical description

40 cm of textual and graphic records

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Sir Edward Belcher (1799-1877) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Members of the Belcher family moved to New England from England in the seventeenth century and then to Nova Scotia, where Belcher’s grandfather, Johnathan Belcher, became the first chief justice. In 1811, Edward Belcher and his family moved back to England, where he joined the Royal Navy the following year. Belcher gained recognition as a surveyor on a number of voyages, including the Beechey expedition in the mid-1820s, and in 1829 he was promoted to Commander. He married Diana Jolliffe in 1830, but the marriage lasted only a few years. In 1841, in reward for his participation in the conflict leading to the ceding of Hong Kong to Great Britain, Belcher was made a Companion of the Order of Bath. He was subsequently knighted in 1843 for his success in surveying the west coast of America. From 1852 to 1854, Belcher commanded an expedition to the Arctic in search of Sir John Franklin. In 1872 he attained the rank of Admiral.

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Scope and content

The fonds consists of correspondence, journals, legal documents, financial documents, printed drawings, watercolours, an order book, and personal and other documents created and/or accumulated by Edward Belcher and other members of the Belcher family. The majority of the Edward Belcher material is related to his naval career.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The papers of the Belcher family were acquired from several sources and were primarily purchased from dealers during the 1960s.


The material has been arranged into series according to family member and has generally followed the series order devised at UBC Library Special Collections by Judy Coombs in the 1970s.

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No further accruals are expected.

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