Clements Robert Markham

Birth: 1830


SIR CLEMENTS ROBERT MARKHAM (1830-1916) was an English traveller, geographer and author, son of the Rev. David F. Markham, canon of Windsor, and of Catherine, daughter of Sir W. Milner, Bart., of Nunappleton, Yorkshire, was born on the 20th of July 1830 at Stillingfleet, near York, and educated at Westminster School. He entered the navy in 1844, became midshipman in 1846, and passed for a lieutenant in 1851. In 1850-1851 he served on the Franklin search expedition in the Arctic regions, under Captain Austin. He retired from the navy in 1852, and in 1852-1854 travelled in Peru and the forests of the eastern Andes. He visited South America again in 1860-1861, in order to arrange for the introduction of the cinchona plant into India, a service of the highest value to humanity.

In 1865-1866 he visited Ceylon and India, to inspect and report upon the Tinnevelly pearl-fishery and the cinchona plantations. On the Abyssinian expedition of 1867-68 he served as geographer, and was present at the storming of Magdala. In 1874 he accompanied the Arctic expedition under Sir George Nares as far as Greenland. In later years Sir Clements Markham travelled extensively in western Asia and the United States. In 1855 he became a clerk in the Board of Control. From 1867-1877 he was in charge of the geographical department of the Indian Office. He was secretary to the Hakluyt Society from 1858-1887, and became its president in 1890.

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From 1863-1888 he acted as secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, and on his retirement received the society’s gold medal for his distinguished services to geography. He was elected president of the same society in 1893, and retained office for the unprecedented period of twelve years, taking an active share in the work of the society and in increasing its usefulness in various directions. It was almost entirely due to his exertions that funds were obtained for the National Antarctic Expedition under Captain Robert Scott, which left England in the summer of 1901. Sir Clements Markham was elected F.R.S. in 1873; was created C.B. in 1871, and K.C.B. in 1896; became an honorary member of the principal geographical societies; and was president of the International Geographical Congress which met in London in 1895.

He died in London Jan. 30 1916 of shock following an accidental fire. The principal work of his later years was connected with the two Antarctic expeditions under Capt. R. F. Scott, for whom he entertained a warm personal affection, suffering a grievous blow at his loss. Markham’s long-standing interest in South American geography, history and affairs led to his election as president of the International Congress of Americanists in 1912. An important history of Arctic and Antarctic exploration by Markham was completed posthumously by Dr. F. H. H. Guillemard and published in 1921 under the title of The Lands of Silence.


Sir Clements Markham conducted the Geographical Magazine from 1872-1878, when it became merged in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society. Among his other publications may be mentioned the following: Franklin’s Footsteps (1852); Cuzco and Lima (1856); Travels in Peru and India (1862); A Quichua Grammar and Dictionary (1863); Spanish Irrigation (1867); A History of the Abyssinian Expedition (1869); A Life of the Great Lord Fairfax (1870); Ollanta, a Quichua Drama (1871); Memoir on the Indian Surveys (1871; 2nd ed., 1878); General Sketch of the History of Persia (1873); The Threshold of the Unknown Region (1874, 4 editions); A Memoir of the Countess of Chinchon, (1875); Missions to Thibet, (1877; 2nd ed., 1879); Memoir of the Indian Surveys; Peruvian Bark (1880); Peru (1880); The War between Chili and Peru (1879-81; 3rd ed., 1883); The Sea Fathers (1885); The Fighting Veres (1888); Paladins of King Edwin (1896); Life of John Davis the Navigator (1889); a Life of Richard III. (1906), in which he maintained that the king was not guilty of the murder of the two princes in the Tower; also lives of Admiral Fairfax, Admiral John Markham, Columbus and Major Rennel; A History of Peru; editions with introductions of twenty works for the Hakluyt Society, of which fourteen were also translations; about seventy papers in the Royal Geographical Society’s Journal; the Reports on the Moral and Material Progress of India for 1871-1872 and 1872-1873; Memoir of Sir John Harington for the Roxburghe Club (1880); the Peruvian chapters for J. Winsor’s History of America, and the chapters on discovery and surveying for Clowes’s History of the Navy.

A Life, written by his cousin, Adml. Sir A. H. Markham, was published in 1917.

1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 17. pg 734.

1922 Encyclopaedia Britannica pg 851.

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