Osborn, Sherard

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Epithet: Rear-Admiral CB

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000621.0x000271

Sherard Osborn was born on 25 April 1822. He joined the Navy in 1837, serving in HMS Hyacinth in the Far East where he participated in the first China War before serving in the Pacific as gunnery mate in HMS Collingwood between 1844 and 1848. Promoted lieutenant in 1846, he was later placed in command of the steamer HMS Dwarf employed in patrolling the coast of Ireland in 1848.

In 1850, Osborn was appointed lieutenant in command of HMS Pioneer, the tender to HMS Resolute, on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Austin), sent by the Admiralty to search for John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition by way of Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. In the spring of 1851, Osborn led a sledge party to the furthest western point of Prince of Wales Land before returning to the ship, having covered more than 900km. During the expedition, Osborn and George McDougall of HMS Resolute produced the ship's newspaper, the Illustrated Arctic News, and his popular narrative of the voyage Stray leaves from an Arctic journal... was published in 1852.

Osborn resumed command of Pioneer on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1852-1854 (leader Sir Edward Belcher), sailing in company with four vessels in a voyage to the regions of Wellington Channel and Melville Island in search of Franklin's expedition. In the spring of 1852, Osborn accompanied George Henry Richards, an officer in HMS Assistance, as far as the northeastern tip of Sabine Peninsula. Retracing his steps, he explored the east coast of Bathurst Island before returning to the ships, covering a total distance of more than 1670km. In September 1853, news reached Osborn of his promotion to the rank of commander and the following year he returned with the expedition to England.

After the expedition, Osborn spent a short time in charge of the Norfolk Coastguard before receiving the command of HMS Vesuvius during the Crimean War in 1855, the year in which he was promoted captain and received the Order of Bath. Taking command of HMS Furious in 1857 during the second China War, he later became involved in the development of European trade with China and Japan, sailing Furious up the Yangtze River to prove its navigability to smaller trading vessels. Invalided home in 1859, he wrote numerous articles and papers for publication, mostly on naval matters and Chinese politics, before he returned to the Navy in 1861, serving off the coast of Mexico and China. Between 1865 and 1866, he acted as agent for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Company in Bombay and from 1867 to 1873, served as managing director of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company. Advancing to the rank of rear admiral in 1873, Osborn was appointed to an Admiralty committee advising on preparations for the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares). He died on 6 May 1875 at London, shortly before the departure of the expedition.

Published work The career, last voyage and fate of Captain Sir John Franklin by Sherard Osborn, Bradbury and Evans London (1860) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Franklin, John]

From the guide to the Sherard Osborn collection, 1849-1860, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf GORDON PAPERS (BELL COLLECTION). Vol. XX (ff. 282). 1. ff. 1-163b. Pamphlets, etc., relating to China, and to Gen. Gordon's service there, and in the Sudan; 1861-1884. Printed, with autograph annotations by Gordon on J. Scarth, British policy in Chin..., 1861-1885 British Library
referencedIn Elisha Kent Kane Papers, Bulk, 1843-1857, 1810-1953 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Vol. VI (ff. 187). Aug.-Sept. 1855.includes:ff. 21, 30, 119, 165, 172, 174, 183 General Sir James Simpson, GCB: Correspondence with Lord Lyons: 1855: Mostly copies.ff. 40, 71 Captain Charles Fairholme, RN: Letters to Lord Lyons: 1855.f. 42 Gene... British Library
referencedIn BARROW BEQUEST. Vol. VI. "The Queen's Illuminated Magazine and North Cornwall Gazette. Published in Winter quarters, Arctic Regions"; 28 Oct. 1852-12 Feb. 1853. The original MS., mainly in the handwriting of Lieutenant [afterw. Rear-Admiral] Sherard ... British Library
creatorOf Sherard Osborn collection, 1849-1860 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Vol. VII (ff. 209). Oct.-Dec. 1855.includes:f. 5 Major-General John Spurway, RA: Letter to Lord Lyons: 1855.f. 12 Commander Francis Pender Porteous: Letter to Lord Halifax: 1855: Copy.f. 32 Maps and Plans: Plan of Russian fortifications at Kinb... British Library
referencedIn Vol. III (ff. 493). K-R.includes:f. 1 Conte Camillo Benso di Cavour, Sardinian statesman: Letter to N. W. Senior: 1842.: Fr.f. 1 John Kintzing Kane, American jurist: Letter to Sir R. I. Murchison: 1857.f. 3 Sir Robert John Kane, FRS 1849: Lette... British Library
creatorOf Vol. II (ff. 204). H -O.includes:f. 1 Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax: Treasury warrant authorised by: 1698: Signed. f. 2 Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax: Letter to A. Panizzi: 1857. f. 3 Henry Hallam, historian: Letter to A. Panizzi: circ... British Library
referencedIn COBDEN PAPERS. Vol. XXXII (ff. 86). Miscellaneous papers, too large for inclusion in the preceding volumes, viz:-(1) General correspondence of Cobden; 1838-1864. ff. 1-48b. (2) Letters (some copies) from Cobden, W. E. Gladstone and others to Thomas ..., 1838-1933 British Library
referencedIn Vol. X. (IV. ff. 337). 1. "I Captain Sherard Osborn, C.B. Private Letters." The first six letters (ff. 4-39) form a sort of journal of the expedition under Sir E. Belcher (see above, Add. 35,307, art. 1); the remainder are dated 21 Jan. 1859-19 Apr. ..., 1859-1877 British Library
creatorOf LAY PAPERS. VOL. IV. Letter book, in Horatio Nelson Lay's hand, containing copies of correspondence of Lay and Captain Sherard Osborn with various individuals relating to the purchase and organisation of the naval force for the protection of the Chin..., 1862-1863 British Library
referencedIn Vol. VII. (I. ff. 342). 1. "Captain Austin's expedition of 1850, in H.M. Ships "Resolute," "Assistance," "Intrepid," and "Pioneer": letters from Captains Horatio Thomas Austin and Erasmus Ommauney, Lieutenants Juhn Bertie Cator and Sherard Osborn, an..., 1850-1873 British Library
creatorOf Vol. I (ff. 176). 1862-1863.includes:ff. 1, 2, 4 Henry Andrea Burgevine, American commander of the 'Ever-Victorious Army' in China: Letters to Gen. C. W. D. Staveley: 1862: Copies.f. 2 Henry Andrea Burgevine, American commander of the 'Ever-Victo..., 1862-1863 British Library
referencedIn Vol. CLXXIX (ff. 331). Mar., Apr. 1864.includes:f. 1 Rear-Admiral Sherard Osborn, CB: Letters to Sir A. H. Layard: 1862-1864. ff. 3, 182 Charles Augustus Ellis, 6th Baron Howard de Walden: Letters to Sir A. H. Layard: 1862-1866. ff. 5, 78, 105, 268... British Library
creatorOf Vol. II (ff. 139). 1864-1865, 1869.includes:ff. 1-1b William Frederick Mayers, Chinese scholar: Letters, etc., translated and counter-signed by: 1864.ff. 1-1b China: Imperial decrees relating to Li Hung Chang and Maj. C. G. Gordon: 1864: Engl. tr..., 1864-1869 British Library
creatorOf Vol. XII (ff. 217). Mar.-Nov. 1856.includes:ff. 13, 134 Admiral of the Fleet Sir Houston Stewart, GCB: Correspondence with Sir W. J. Codrington: 1856: Mostly copies.ff. 13, 134 General Sir William John Codrington, KCB: Correspondence with Sir H. ... British Library
referencedIn Vol. VIII. (11. If. 611). 1. "Sir Edward Belcher's expedition" of 1852-54. By far the longest section; it contains very outspoken accounts of the disagreements between Sir E. Belcher and the officers under him. Besides Belcher himself and Lieut. (Com..., 1852-1873 British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen Robert Calder 1812-1903 person
associatedWith Austin Horatio Thomas d 1865 person
associatedWith Belcher Edward 1799-1877 person
associatedWith British Naval Franklin Search Expedition Canada Arctic Archipelago 1850-1851 corporateBody
associatedWith Cator John Bertie b 1820 person
associatedWith Elliott James Edward 1813-1865 person
associatedWith Franklin John 1786-1847 person
associatedWith Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857 person
associatedWith Markham Clements Robert 1830-1916 person
associatedWith McClintock Francis Leopold 1819-1907 person
associatedWith Mecham George Frederick 1828-1858 person
associatedWith Ommanney Erasmus 1814-1904 person
associatedWith Osborn Sherard 1822-1875 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Bristol, Gloucestershire
Oudewater, the Netherlands
Fort Kinburn, Ukraine
Italy, Europe
Hankow, Hupeh, China
Northwest Passage
Arctic regions Discovery and exploration
Sungkiang, China
Eperjes, Hungary
Suez Canal, Egypt
Arctic, Arctic
Yedo, Japan
Taitsan, China
Ionian Islands, Greece
Japan, Asia
Melbourne, Australia
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
United States of America
Mexico, Central America
China, Asia
China, Asia
Corfu, the Ionian Islands
Castries Bay, Gulf of Tartary


Active 1838

Active 1933


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