Skip to main content

Edwin Augustus Porcher Collection

Call Number: MSS 38

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises: one watercolor frontispiece and 84 watercolors depicting scenes from Porcher's voyages (36 watercolors from 1850-53, 48 watercolors from 1857-60). Also present is a Porcher's diary with descriptions of the ports visited between September 1851 and April 1853, including Hong Kong, Borneo, Shanghai, and Rangoon. The journal includes eight meticulously drawn maps, charts, and diagrams. There are also three letters written by Porcher to his sister Madelina: two from Hong Kong in 1849 and 1852 and the other from Moulmein in April 1853. The collection also includes two logbooks and three certificates, which document Porcher's service to the Royal Navy.

Note on attribution: the frontispiece drawing includes an erased signature at bottom right: “H.S. Melville.” It matches the known signature of Harden S. Melville and indicates that Porcher and Melville may have collaborated on this, or possibly many, of Porcher’s watercolors. Harden S. Melville was trained by his father, the London engraver, lithographer and watercolor painter Henry Melville (1826-41). Unlike Porcher, Melville was a trained artist, having earned a medal from the Society of Artists and exhibiting three paintings at the Royal Academy exhibitions between 1837 and 1841. In 1841, he accepted the position as draughtsman on board HMS Fly, where he would have likely met Edwin Augustus Porcher, who was Mate on the voyage. Melville supplied nineteen drawings and two maps for Joseph Beete Jukes’s Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.S. Fly […] (2 vols, London, 1847) and published twenty-five lithographs entitled Sketches in Australia and the Adjacent Islands (London, 1849) (YCBA Rare Books holds a copy).


  • 1849-1861


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is the physical property of the Yale Center for British Art. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.


The collection is arranged into three series: I. Drawings; II. Diary and logbooks; III. Miscellaneous.

Titles for the drawings are transcribed from Porcher's contemporary inscriptions and include his original numbering scheme. The drawings are ordered numerically, within each subseries.

Related Materials

The preparatory watercolor for a frontispiece, “Sketches taken during my voyages & travels. E.A. Porcher” (see: Series III Miscellaneous) suggests that Porcher intended to publish a set of watercolors representative of his entire body of work. In the 1970s, the Porcher collection was sold in separate lots to various repositories. As the YCBA's collection is mounted and labeled in an identical manner to other collections of Porcher material, these collections will be briefly outlined below.

National Library of Australia, Canberra

Call numbers: NLA MS 4602

Comprises: 30 watercolors; official logs of HMS Prince George (247 pages) and HMS Fly (219 pages); 4to private journal (66 pages); 8vo extract from an exercise book giving the dimensions of the HMS Fly and daily positions of the voyage from England to Van Diemen’s Land, Sydney and back to Plymouth; certificate of official appointment of Porcher as Mate dated June 8, 1844 (folded foolscap). Accessioned in 1972.

The HMS Fly completed the first hydrographic survey of the Northeastern Australian coast and offshore islands (1842-5). Porcher’s journal describes making scientific and surveying observations in and around Van Diemen’s Land (present-day Tasmania), up the coast of (present-day) Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait. There are also images of locations Porcher encountered en-route such as the Brazil coast, Java, New Guinea, Porto Praya and Madeira. He describes the establishment of astronomical and magnetic observations in Van Diemen’s Land and at Cape Upstart. His watercolors include a depiction of Ross Observatory, Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land and the stone lighthouse tower at Raine Island (Great Barrier Reef) erected by members of the Fly, Bramble and 20 convicts lent from New South Wales. Possibly with the instruction of the naturalist Joseph Beete Jukes, Porcher’s journal pays particular attention to flora and fauna, especially species of trees and birds. Porcher’s journal is valuable for its description of natural history and engagements with local Aboriginal tribes, particularly on the North-east coast of Australia.

Dahesh Museum of Art, Greenwich

Includes: 12 watercolors dating from 1847-1849; logbook from HMS Sidon steam frigate under Captain William Honyman Henderson during his tour of the Middle East; three letters written to his sister, Madelina, during the voyage. Porcher’s watercolors represent monuments in Egypt (Pyramids at Giza, Cleopatra’s needles, Pompey’s Pillar) and coastal views of Morocco. It also depicts the harbor of Santa Lucia in Naples. The log book was removed from a larger volume (contiguous with the HMS Fly log at the National Library of Australia, which includes the first page of the Sidon log). His letters to Madelina indicate that the ship’s party visited monuments such as St. Paul’s, the Arch of Constantine, Trajan’s Pillar, and the Pyramid of Caius Cestus “where we remained some little time looking at the different relics that are supposed to have been brought from the Holy Land.”

British Museum, Department of Greece and Rome

Call numbers: 1865,0208.618 - 1865,0208.633; 2012,5033.1-73

Comprises watercolor drawings from E.A. Porcher and R. Murdoch Smith’s archaeological expedition to Cyrene (Libya) in 1860-1, some of which became the basis for engravings and lithographs in the publication History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene made during an Expedition to the Cyrenaica in 1860-1 (London, 1864). Extant are 89 drawings on Whatman paper in three sizes (58 views and 31 plans). 16 of these were donated by Porcher to the British museum in 1865 (5 watercolor views, 9 plans, 1 elevation, and 1 drawing of an inscription). The remaining 73 drawings (52 watercolor views, 20 plans, and 1 elevation) have been assigned new registration numbers by museum staff (2012,5033.1-73) (Celeste Farge, British Museum, Email Correspondence, May 20, 2013). A portion of these were donated to the Museum in 1894 by Cecil Du Pre Penton Powney (Porcher’s nephew) and include Porcher's duplicates of drawings (with signature). A list on blue foolscap accompanying the watercolors identifies a total of 112 drawings, including a small sketchbook of 29 drawings from the Cyrene expedition. By all indications, the sketchbook was broken up and the drawings were individually mounted after it was obtained by the British Museum. Based on current holdings, some of the 112 watercolors are presumed lost (see Thorn 224). Unpublished illustrations fall under a numbering system (Porcher’s system) as 87-137. The YCBA watercolors include a set numbered 70-86, possibly contiguous with the British Museum’s watercolors.

The British Museum Central Archives has holdings including Smith and Porcher’s letters from Cyrene to Charles Newton (Keeper, British Museum).

National Archives, Kew

Call number: MFQ 1/616

Comprises two portfolios of material related to Nathan Davis’ excavations at Carthage. Includes Porcher’s drawings, maps and plans: 'Plan of the peninsula of Carthage exhibiting the present excavations...': also showing Roman ruins above ground; large mosaic excavated at Carthage (now in British Museum); map of the peninsula of Carthage, showing the sites of excavations, ruins, the Lake of Tunis, roads, and terrain. All items were originally enclosed in despatches from Nathan Davis, 1857-1859.

British Columbia Archives, Victoria

Call numbers: PDP02857- PDP02884; C-05526; D-09121

Two views of Metlakatla (one a copy of a view in private collection) and an album containing 27 watercolors inscribed in ink and dated 1862-9. Duplication of subjects and compositions in the sketchbook indicates that some of these were preparatory versions for later works (now housed at the Beinecke Library). In 1863-4, Porcher produced images of the English south coast and Brazil (including Rio de Janeiro). He travelled through the Straits of Magellan and northwards up the coast of South America. After reaching Honolulu, Porcher sailed on to Esquimalt, Vancouver Island. Some of the 1866 views from these travels were engraved for the tenth and eleventh Annual Report of the Columbia Mission (1868 and 1869), which also gives an account of Porcher’s visit north to the Tsimshian village and mission at Metlakatla. The collection was acquired in 1973.

Beinecke Library, New Haven

Call number: WA MSS S-1972

Comprises 53 watercolors dated April 1865 – September 1868, depicting subjects from Porcher’s tour of duty to Esquimalt, the Royal Naval base on Vancouver Island, British Columbia aboard the HMS Sparrowhawk. Also includes: a journal, 240 pages, 8vo.; logbook 47 pages, 8vo.; and four documents commending Porcher’s conduct, one of which promotes him to the standing of Captain, RN. The collection was acquired in 1972.

The Royal Navy was deployed in the Pacific to protect Britain’s commercial and political interests in the Pacific, while also serving as diplomatic agents when necessary. A Crown colony of Vancouver Island was established to prevent American advancement into disputed territory and Esquimalt became the strategic base for British in the North Pacific. Porcher was made a magistrate so that he could arbitrate in disputes between tribal groups and the European populace (see E.A. Porcher journal, Beinecke Library). His interest in Northwest Coast cultural expressions is evident in his watercolors, where he documents Haida, Tsimshian and Coast Salish totem poles and house posts.

Danforth Art Museum, Framingham

Consists of 57 watercolors gifted in 1976 and 1977 by Robert Pirie. Exhibited as “The Grand Tour, Watercolors by E.A. Porcher” at the Danforth Art Museum in 1977. These drawings date to Porcher’s later years, after his retirement from the Royal Navy (1872). The images represent sites encountered during travels to European spa and resort towns, cultural monuments, fortifications, and beauty spots such as Lake Como, Drachenfels mountain (on the Rhine), and Isola Bella. The recorded sights in Germany, Belgium, Bohemia, Austria and Italy reveal Porcher’s abiding interest in local history. He takes great interest, for instance, in the Wurtemberg fortifications at Ulm, Castle of Godesberg Bacharach, San Vitale at Ravenna, Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Aix-La-Chapelle.

Photographic Collections

Photographs taken during Porcher and Smith’s 10 month excavation in Cyrene are housed in London and Edinburgh, and comprise the earliest photographic views of the Necropolis at Cyrene. The London Album (British Museum) consists of 42 photographs. The Edinburgh Album (National Library of Scotland) consists of 38 photographs, and contains duplicates of the London album. See History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene made during an Expedition to the Cyrenaica in 1860-1 (London 1864), for published versions of these photographs.


6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection comprises the drawings, diary, and log books of Edwin Augustus Porcher, from tours of duty to South and East Asia (1849-1853) aboard the HMS Cleopatra and the Mediterranean and North Africa (1857-60) aboard the HMS Hibernia, HMS Kertch and HMS Boxer.

Biographical / Historical

Edwin Augustus Porcher (also sometimes cited as EDMUND Augustus Porcher) was born second son to Reverend George Porcher of Maiden Erlegh, Berks. and Francis Amelia Chamier, daughter of John Chamier, Esq. Porcher’s paternal lineage can be traced to French Huguenot ancestry, in a line descending from the Counts of Richebourg. In the 17th century Isaac Porcher de Richebourg and his wife Claude Cherigny fled to South Carolina, then under British rule. The Porcher family remained in the American colonies as merchants for four generations. In 1768, James Du Pré Porcher settled in England, where he sired a son, Josias Du Pré Porcher, Esq. of Winslad House, Devonshire, who became MP for Old Sarum. The latter’s eldest surviving son was Rev. George Porcher , who married Francis Amelia in 1818, and their two sons were George Du Pré Porcher, Esq., barrister, and Edwin Augustus Porcher (Baird 105). Porcher had many family connections to the Royal Navy: his maternal uncle was Commander Frederick Chamier RN, his paternal grandfather Admiral Sir William Burnaby, and his paternal uncle Henry Porcher, Esq., of Arborfield, Berks. (later MP for Clitheroe) (Naval Biographical Dictionary 915).

Some accounts report that Porcher entered the navy in 1837, the same year that the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth closed its doors. Though he may have had some training prior to 1837, it is likely that Porcher received much of his education directly at sea from a naval instructor through the “pitchfork system,” which replaced formal naval training during this period (Dickinson 57). Like his forerunners, he would have studied arithmetic, Euclidean geometry, algebra, plane and spherical trigonometry, and the uses of instruments and projectiles. The new education system also introduced young sailors to the study of Classics in Latin and Greek. Had Porcher studied at the Royal Naval College, he likely would have been instructed in drawing by John Christian Schetky, a specialist in watercolors and a former marine painter to King George IV and King William IV (Dickinson 50). There is some evidence that Porcher drew from artist handbooks such as Samuel Prout's Prout's Microcosm: The Artist's Sketch-book of Groups of Figures, Shipping, and other Picturesque Objects (1841) (see the seated figure in "49. Raines Islet on the Great Barrier Reef [...]" in the National Library of Australia collection).

After short training cruises as Volunteer First Class aboard vessels such as the Donegal, Porcher commenced his first tour of duty as Mate aboard the HMS Fly in 1842. The Fly and HMS Bramble embarked on a four year voyage to Australia, New Guinea, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Porcher accompanied the Fly on its scientific survey of the Northern Australian coastline, particularly the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait. Naturalist Joseph Beete Jukes produced a Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of HMS Fly During the years 1842-1846. Porcher is sometimes recognized as the expedition’s “unofficial” artist, involved in the documentation of geological, zoological and anthropological information (Wright 276). The title of official draughtsman went to the artist Harden S. Melville, who published Sketches in Australia and the Adjacent Islands, selected from a number taken during the surveying voyage of H.M.S. "Fly" and "Bramble" […]. The resemblance between their work suggests Porcher and Melville may have been close collaborators. A copy of Melville’s book (now in a private collection) contains an inserted errata slip inscribed in Porcher’s hand (Christie’s Melbourne Auction Catalogue, excerpt in E.A. Porcher file, National Library of Australia). The notation identifies the names of the Islanders depicted in Plate 18 (which are not identified by the letterpress), which also suggests that Porcher was attuned to the identities of indigenous individuals he encountered on the voyage. Plates 18 and 20 of Melville's Sketches in Australia and the Adjacent Islands appear to correspond to figures pictured in a watercolor attributed to Porcher: "Pacific Ocean, a village in Treacherous Bay, Darnley Island" (National Library of Australia, Canberra).

Returning for a brief period to England in 1846, Porcher was advanced to Mate status in August of 1846, having passed his exams on the 8th of June 1844 (Nautical Standard and Steam Navigation Gazette 532). He departed for duty again on the steam frigate Sidon bound for the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East on November 9, 1846. The Sidon performed basic patrol along the North African coast from Morocco to Egypt, also making trips to Cairo. By now an accomplished amateur scholar and draughtsman, Porcher took great interest in archaeological sites and cultural monuments, describing in letters to his sister such monuments as the Arch of Constantine, Trajan’s Pillar, and the Pyramid of Caius Cestus. Twelve watercolors from this expedition, along with letters and a small log book, are in the private collection of Dr. Bob Brier. These images depict the pyramids of Cairo, Aboukir Castle, Cleopatra’s Needles, and Pompey’s Pillar, as well as coastal scenes of Morocco and the Bay of Naples (Bob Brier, email correspondence).

Porcher set sail on the HMS Cleopatra in May 1849, bound for South and East Asia (as 2nd Lieutenant under Captain Thomas L. Massie). During this tour, Porcher records excursions to Macau, Borneo, and the new treaty ports of Shanghai and Amoy. In his letters to his sister, Madelina, Porcher also indicates that he made two trips to Canton in the company of other officers, meeting with diplomatic officials on these occasions. The Cleopatra was stationed at Hong Kong during the transitional period between the first and second Opium Wars, when Britain’s gunboats protected its trading interests and combatted piracy in the region. By the 1840s, large fleets of pirates were forming in the South China Seas, and the Royal Navy was dispatched to police the waters around Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. The region was at the crossroads of several shipping routes and became the refuge for smuggling and plundering. European involvement in these practices certainly did not help diplomatic relations with the Chinese (Christopher Munn, 72). The Royal Navy did not protect small Chinese merchant vessels, however it was willing to exterminate larger fleets if they were a threat to the British presence. Head money paid for every pirate captured was divided among officers and crew. Piracy increased in the 1850s due to an influx of populations from conflict-ridden Guangdong. The Royal Navy, along with Portuguese, American and Chinese forces, organized campaigns and bombardments of pirate fleets, sometimes destroying villages associated with pirate activity (Munn 245-246). The Cleopatra also patrolled the South China Sea, and was dispatched to Borneo to contend with the Iranun (Illanoon or Lanun) pirates, who had attacked the crew of the HMS Dolphin (see logbook, pages 29-44, and the watercolor “Skirmish with the Illanoon Pirates at Tooncoo on February 16th 1852").

In February of 1854, Porcher had a brief appointment aboard the steam ship Majestic out of Sheerness, under Captain James Hope, serving in the Baltic Sea . In the same year he was appointed to the screw steam Esk out of Portsmouth, under command of Thomas Birch (also in the Baltic). In 1855, at the height of the Crimean War, the Esk joined the Baltic fleet (of 105 vessels) to conduct naval operations, including the bombardment of Sweaborg, for which Porcher received the Baltic medal (Lambert 281-88; Obituary, “The Week’s News,” August 24, 1878, page 1071).

In February of 1857, Porcher was appointed First Lieutenant of the HMS Hibernia, a 104-gun flag ship stationed at Malta. He departed Southampton via the screw steam ship Colombo, arriving at Malta on March 1st. This was not Porcher’s first visit at Malta, having previous docked there with the HMS Sidon in 1848. The history of the British occupation of Malta began in 1798, when Lord Nelson, commander of the British fleet, assisted in the overthrow of the French (who, under Napoleon, had overtaken the Order of St. John). Malta became a Crown Colony in 1813 and served as the central Mediterranean base of the British Empire and Navy. A campaign to “Anglicize” Malta emerged in the 1860s, when British naval supremacy began to experience pressure from Prussia and particularly France, which began expanding its imperial ambitions in North Africa (Cassar 141-181). While stationed on the Hibernia, Porcher made a series of outbound trips aboard the HMS Harpy, the HMS Kertch, and the HMS Boxer. On May 1st, 1858, he was appointed to the command of the Harpy, a paddle wheel vessel, in lieu of the ailing Lieutenant Bruce. The Harpy and its crew were instrumental in assisting Nathan Davis in his archaeological excavations of Carthage and nearby remains, especially Utica, and transported the antique sculptures and mosaic pavements that Davis and his team unearthed. The 467 objects that were unearthed, including twenty-eight Roman mosaics dating from the late first to the mid sixth century AD and a number of Punic votive stelae, were transported to the British Museum on naval vessels. Five of Porcher’s watercolors were published in Nathan Davis’s Carthage and Her Remains (see watercolor descriptions). Aboard the Kertch, Porcher made four major outbound journeys: to “Leghorn” (Livorno) and Naples (October 29, 1859 - November 22, 1859); to Tunis (February, 1860); to Tunis, Bizerta, Tabakah (June 7, 1860 – July 4, 1860); and to Lata and Messina (July 21, 1860 – July 30, 1860). It appears that three of Porcher’s watercolors from these journeys to North Africa illustrate Nathan Davis’s travels through these regions, suggesting that Davis might have commissioned Porcher to complete these views retroactively: “70. Tunis. The Ruins of Baal Hammon Molech […],” “71. The Mosque of Dowar-Eshutt […],” and “75. Village of Camart […].”

Porcher likely met Lieutenant Rupert Murdoch Smith of the Royal Engineers through Nathan Davis, Smith having just arrived in Malta from his excavations with the British Museum’s Keeper of Antiquities, Charles Newton, at Halicarnassus and Cnidus (Thorn 17). Inspired by their recent archaeological activities, Porcher and Smith devised a plan to explore the ancient archaeological sites of Cyrene: “I have formed a project of going to examine Cyrene and the Pentapolis and hope to be able to carry it out. The only information about it is Captain Beechey’s book… I should like to go and make plans of the principal sites between Cyrene and Bengazi but chiefly Cyrene itself” (R.M. Smith to Charles Newton, 18th May 1860, British Mus. G.R. Dept. Orig. Lett. II (1861-1868) fol. 705). The Hibernia log-book includes entries for the HMS Boxer, which took Porcher and Smith as far as Benghazi. Their self-funded ten month expedition yielded the earliest photographic views of the Necropolis at Cyrene and at least 89 drawings (views and plans), a number of which Porcher donated to the British Museum in 1865. Smith and Porcher arrived in Cyrene on Dec 23, 1860 and began clearing debris from rock-cut tombs, using a tomb near the Fountain of Apollo as their “tomb of residence”, and a range of rock-cut chambers as kitchen, stables, and store rooms.

When the British Museum learned of Porcher and Smith's discoveries, the Trustees awarded them 100 pounds towards expenses and 500 pounds to hire a team of workmen to carry out more extensive excavations (see Thorn). 148 sculptures and sculptural fragments were retrieved at their dig sites, which forms an important component of the British Museum’s antiquities collection. An illustrated publication of their expedition, History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene Made During an Expedition to the Cyrenaica in 1860-61 was published by Day & Son in 1864. The lithographic plates are adapted from Porcher’s watercolors, plans, and maps. In October 1861, Porcher sailed back to Malta via the HMS Melpomene, which also transported 63 cases of antiquities (22 cases were shipped with the Assurance in June 1861) (see log book, YCBA). There is indication that he was assigned to the Hibernia once more, and reported for duty on the Bustler and Redpole, steam tugs tendered to the Hibernia (Smith 5). As of 1861, Porcher was classified with the Transport Service Agents Afloat and on Dec 27 1861, he was appointed to rank of Commander.

Between 1862-3, Porcher produced images of Ireland and the English south coast. On January 12, 1863, he was elected Fellow of Royal Geographic Society (Athenaeum, January 17 1863, 89). He received his own command on March 4, 1865, becoming Captain of the HMS Sparrowhawk, based in the Northern Pacific station of Esquimalt, Vancouver Island, British North America. A ship’s log indicates he traveled the customary trans-Atlantic route via Rio de Janeiro, with stops at Madeira, the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands. The ship called at Valparaiso on the Chilean coast, which was the southern Pacific headquarters of the British Navy, and Callao, Peru. After reaching Hawaii, Porcher sailed on to the Pacific Northwest. A personal diary housed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library provides an account of Porcher’s activities between March 9, 1865, and October 14, 1868.

Reproduced in its entirety (with edits and annotations) by Dwight L. Smith in A Tour of Duty in the Pacific Northwest, and in typed transcript form at the Beinecke (Box 5, folder 1), the diary chronicles Porcher’s travels and relations with the local indigenous populations. In July of 1867, Porcher delivered a lecture at the Mechanics’ Institute on the formation of coral reefs in Australia, demonstrating his interest in the promotion of scientific knowledge: “Capt Porcher very minutely described the process, illustrating his lecture by chalk drawings on the blackboard… The lecturer was listened to with the greatest attention, and whenever a pause occurred the gratified audience loudly applauded” (British Colonist, July 31, 1867).

During this tour of duty, Porcher was given additional diplomatic responsibilities. He was invited by the Governor of Vancouver Island to investigate a property dispute between the Canadian Company and the Flume Company referred to by the local press as the “Grouse Creek War” (British Colonist, August 2, 1867). He was also made a magistrate before a northward journey to territories where relations with indigenous groups were seen as contentious. This allowed him to arbitrate in disputes with indigenous groups and in inter-tribal conflicts impeding on British activities. Several views of the Christian mission at Metlakatla (Maaxłakxaała, which means "saltwater pass") and Fort Simpson were produced. A few of Porcher’s drawings were published as engravings in The Columbia Mission Annual Report (10th and 11th volumes, 1868, 1869). He departed Esquimalt in April, 1868, and arrived back in England on October 14.

During his travels (in 1865 and 1866), Porcher’s residence was listed at 50 Montague Square, London, so it is possible that he returned to reside there upon his return to civilian life (Yule). He was promoted to Captain on October 16, 1868, and married in the spring of 1869 in Alton, Hampshire (England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915). By 1871, he and Elizabeth Porcher were living in Marylebone, London, with his sister Agnes Rick and their five servants (1871 England Census). He officially retired from service in 1872. It appears that Porcher had a child by the name of Frances Mary Kotar, who is listed in 1873 as “an infant by Edwin Augustus Porcher esq (a Captain in the Royal Navy) her guardian George Du Pre Porcher” in the legal case “Stratton v. Ravenscroft” (C 16/897/S297, Cause # 1873 S297, National Archives, Kew). Although it does not appear that Porcher conducted any further official Royal Navy business, he had not withdrawn from public life. He attended meetings of the Royal Geographic Society, and the Council of the Hakluyt Society, for which he was listed as member in 1876 and 1877 (listed in Council, Yule and Veer). Never tiring from travel, it appears that Porcher’s last sketching tour in continental Europe was conducted for pleasure, as many of his drawings depict resort and spa towns. This body of work, dating from 1869 to 1877, consists of views of cultural sites and picturesque landscapes in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Belgium, and Italy. Porcher died on August 13, 1878, at Homburg, Germany, aged 53 (England & Wales, National Probate Calendar, 1878).

Custodial History

E.A. Porcher donated 16 drawings related to his Cyrene expedition to the British Museum in 1865. He left his remaining papers and watercolor works to Lieut. Col. Cecil Du Pre Penton Powney (b. 1862), his sister’s surviving son, who donated views, plans and elevations from the Cyrene expedition to the British Museum in 1894. The remaining manuscripts and drawings were inherited by Powney’s daughter, Beryl Wyndham Powney (c. 1896 -1976). Several components of the Porcher collection were sold by private dealers beginning in the 1970s (see 'Related Archival Materials Note' for Porcher holdings in other institutional collections).

Primary Sources

Primary Sources
  • “Attack on Chinese Pirates by the Boats of Her Majesty’s Ship ‘Cleopatra’” The Illustrated London News, October 4, 1851. No. 520, Vol. 19. 401-402.
  • Baird, Charles W. History of the Huguenot Emigration to America. Vol. 2. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1885.
  • The British Colonist. July 31, 1867; August 2, 1867. Edwin Porcher file [excerpts], British Columbia Archives.
  • Davis, Nathan. Carthage and Her Remains: Being an Account of the Excavations and Researches on the Site of the Phœnician Metropolis in Africa, and Other Adjacent Places. London: R. Bentley, 1861.
  • “Discoveries at Cyrene,” The Saturday review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, 19:483 (1865: Jan. 28), p. 120.
  • Eighth Annual Report of the Columbia Mission for the Year 1866. London: Rivingtons, 1867.
  • Eleventh Annual Report of the Columbia Mission for the Year 1869. London: Rivingtons, 1870.
  • England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915. record for Edwin Augustus Porcher, []
  • England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 record for Edwin Augustus Porcher, []
  • “Fresh Antiquities from Cyrene for the British Museum,” Examiner (London: 1808), 2805 (1861:Nov. 2) p.701
  • Jukes, J. Beete, R. G. Latham, F. J. Evans, Richard Owen, John Edward Gray, Adam White, Harden Sidney Melville, John Dower, and George Norman. Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.S. Fly: Commanded by Captain F. P. Blackwood, R.N., in Torres Strait, New Guinea, and Other Islands of the Eastern Archipelago, during the Years 1842-1846: Together with an Excursion into the Interior of the Eastern Part of Java. London: T. & W. Boone, 1847.
  • London Gazette. October 20, 1868, 5510.
  • Melville, H.S. Sketches in Australia and the adjacent islands: selected from a number taken during the surveying voyage of H.M.S. “Fly” and “Bramble” under the command of Capt. F. P Blackwood […] 1842-46. London: Dickinson & Co., 1849.
  • The Nautical Standard and Steam Navigation Gazette. August 22, 1846. London : Office of the Nautical Standard, 1847-1854.
  • “New Cyrenaic Sculptures,” London Review and Weekly Journal of Politics, Literature, Art and Society. 3:54 (1861: July 13) p. 43.
  • Ninth Annual Report of the Columbia Mission for the Year 1867. London: Rivingtons, 1868.
  • “Piracy in the China Seas,” The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1852. New York: Cambridge UP, 2013.222.
  • “Promotions and Appointments,” The Nautical Standard. 22 Aug 1846. 532.
  • Smith, R. Murdoch, and Edwin Augustus Porcher. History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene: Made during an Expedition to the Cyrenaica in 1860-61, under the Auspices of Her Majesty's Government. London: Day, 1864
  • “Societies,” Athenaeum (1863:Jan. 17) p.89 [Porcher’s election to Royal Geographic Society]
  • Tenth Annual Report of the Columbia Mission for the Year 1868. London: Rivingtons, 1869.
  • Veer, Gerrit De. The Three Voyages of William Barents to the Arctic Regions (1594, 1595, and 1596). London: Hakluyt Society., 1876. [Porcher's membership in the Hakluyt Society]

Secondary / Historical Background

Secondary / Historical Background
  • Abinales, P. N., and Donna J. Amoroso. State and Society in the Philippines. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
  • Atauz, Ayse Devrim. Eight Thousand Years of Maltese Maritime History: Trade, Piracy, and Naval Warfare in the Central Mediterranean. Gainesville: U of Florida, 2008.
  • Badger, George Percy. Description of Malta and Gozo. Malta: M. Weiss, 1838.
  • Barker, Ernest. Traditions of Civility; Eight Essays. Cambridge: U, 1948.
  • Cassar, Carmel. A Concise History of Malta. Msida, Malta: Mireva, 2000.
  • Dickinson, Harry W. Educating the Royal Navy: Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century Education for Officers. London: Routledge, 2007.
  • Freed, Joann. Bringing Carthage Home: The Excavations of Nathan Davis, 1856-1859. Oxford, UK: Oxbow , for the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, U of British Columbia, 2011.
  • Gatewood, James Duncan. Notes on Naval Hospitals, Medical Schools, and Training School for Nurses, with a Sketch of Hospital History. Baltimore: Press of the Friedenwald, 1893.
  • Ingham, Mike. Hong Kong: A Cultural History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007.
  • Jackson, Ashley. Buildings of Empire. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2013.
  • Lambert, Andrew D. The Crimean War: British Grand Strategy, 1853-56. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1990.
  • Martin, R. Montgomery. History of the British Colonial Possessions in the Mediterranean. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1837.
  • “Melville, Harden Sydney.” Design and Art Australia Online. 1992.Online.
  • Moyal, A. (1986), A Bright and Savage land, Scientists in Colonial Australia. Sydney : Collins, 1986.
  • Munn, Christopher. Anglo-China: Chinese People and British Rule in Hong Kong. 1841-1880. Richmond: Curzon, 2001.
  • Nesbitt, J.K. “Captain Porcher Studied Indians and Coral,” Victoria Daily Colonist. Islander (supplement). September 3, 1967, 2.
  • Nield, Robert. The China Coast: Trade and the First Treaty Ports. Hong Kong: Joint Pub., 2010.
  • O'Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary Compromising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty's Navy, from the Rank of Admiral of the Fleet to That of Lieutenant, Inclusive. London: J. Murray, 1849.
  • Perdue, Peter C. “Rise and Fall of the Canton Trade System,” MIT Visualizing Cultures. Online.
  • Phillips, Simon and Emmanuel Buttigieg. Islands and Military Orders. Farnham: Ashgate Group, 2013.
  • Pieris, Anoma. Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: A Penal History of Singapore's Plural Society. Honolulu: U of Hawaii, 2009.
  • “Porcher, Edwin Augustus,” Design and Art Australia Online. Online.
  • Porcher, Edwin Augustus, and Dwight La Vern Smith. A Tour of Duty in the Pacific Northwest: E.A. Porcher and H.M.S. Sparrowhawk, 1865-1868. Fairbanks, AK: U of Alaska, 2000.
  • Rowland, M.J. The Whitsunday Islands: Initial Historical and Archaeological Observations and Implications for Future Work. Archaeology Branch, Dept of community Services, Brisbane, University of Queensland, 1986. [reproduction of Porcher’s “Outrigger canoe at Cape Hillsborough, page 75].
  • Savours, A. & McConnell, A. “The history of the Rossbank Observatory, Tasmania,” Annals of Science. Vol. 39. [London] : Taylor & Francis, c1982.
  • Searle, Ross. Artist in the Tropics: 200 Years of Art in North Queensland. Townsville, Qld. : Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, 1991. 13, 16.
  • Sorlini, Giulia B. ""The Megalithic Temples of Malta"" Archaeology and Fertility Cult in the Ancient Mediterranean: Papers Presented at the First International Conference on Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean. The University of Malta, 2-5 September 1985. Ed. Anthony Bonanno. Amsterdam: B.R. Grüner Pub., 1986
  • Thorn, Dorothy M. The Four Seasons of Cyrene: The Excavation and Explorations in 1861 of Lieutenants R. Murdoch Smith, R.E. and Edwin A. Porcher. R.N. Roma: L'Erma Di Bretschneider, 2007.
  • Toksöz, Meltem, and Cayla Keyvanian. "Maps and Wars: Charting the Mediterranean in the Sixteenth Century" Cities of the Mediterranean: From the Ottomans to the Present Day. By Biray Kolluoğlu. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.
  • Whitworth, George Clifford. An Anglo-Indian Dictionary: A Glossary of Indian Terms Used in English, and of Such English or Other Non-Indian Terms as Have Obtained Special Meanings in India. London: K. Paul, Trench, 1885.
  • Wong, Hong Suen, and Roxana Waterson. Singapore through 19th Century Prints & Paintings. Singapore: National Museum of Singapore, 2010.
  • Wright, G.R.H. “By Seaways to Cyrene: Captain E.A. Porcher R.N., water colorist, before Smith and Porcher,” BAR international series. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 2006.
Edwin Augustus Porcher Collection
compiled by Julia Lum; edited by Francis Lapka
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Yale Center for British Art, Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts
1080 Chapel Street
P. O. Box 208280
New Haven CT 06520-8280 US


1080 Chapel Street
New Haven , CT 06510

Opening Hours