Guide to the Papers of Sir Peter Scratchley (as filmed by the AJCP)


M1914 - M1917

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Scratchley, Peter Henry, Sir
Papers of Sir Peter Scratchley (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1836 - 1938
Collection Number
M1914 - M1917
23 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) Online Portal was created with the assistance of the Australia Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948-1997.


Scope and Contents

1. Journals 1855-85. Subjects include: Indian Mutiny; impressions of Melbourne and other Victorian towns; Melbourne defences; Victorian politics; reports on Australian defences; and social events. Also includes accounts by his secretary of Scratchley's illness and death.

2. Official papers, correspondence and notes 1854-85. Subjects include Scratchley's reports on defences of Australia and New Zealand, notes on field fortifications, letters on his work in Tasmania, and correspondence with Sir William Jervois.

3. Notes on New Guinea.

4. Paper and cuttings on New Guinea and death of Scratchley 1885-1901. Correspondents include G.S. Fort, Lord Carrington, Lady Loch, Bishop J. Moorhouse, W.G. Lawes, H.O. Forbes and P.A. Scratchley.

5. Lists of New Guinea artefacts collected by Scratchley.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project at the private residence of Mrs. M.L. Scratchley, England, 1984 (AJCP Reel: M1914-1917). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

The private residence of Mrs M.L. Scratchley. Kent, England

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Selections from the papers were published in C. Kinloch Cooke Australian defences and New Guinea, compiled from the papers of the late Major-General Sir Peter Scratchley R.E., K.C.M.G (London, Macmillan, 1887)

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Army and defence; Army officers; New Zealand: defence; Australia: defence; Melbourne, Victoria: defences; Forbes, Henry O.; Fort, G.S.; India; Jervois, Sir William; Lawes, W.G., Rev.; Loch, Ann, Baroness; Moorhouse, James, Bishop; Papua New Guinea; Victoria: politics and government; Scratchley, P.A.; Scratchley, Sir Peter; Tasmania; Army and defence: Victoria; Wynn-Carrington, Charles R.W., 1st Earl Carrington


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 409, p159.

Biographical / Historical

Sir Peter Henry Scratchley (1835-1885) was educated in Paris and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. Commissioned in Royal Engineers 1854, he served in Crimea 1855-56, India 1857-59 and Victoria 1860-63. Scratchley returned to Australia in 1877 to assist Sir William Jervois in advising colonies on defences and in 1878 became commissioner of defences, covering all Australian colonies and New Zealand. He retired from Army as honorary major-general 1882 but was retained by the Colonial Office as defence adviser for Australia 1882-85. Appointed first Special Commissioner for British New Guinea Nov. 1884, he reached New Guinea Aug. 1885 but died ten weeks later.

Item Descriptions

Series I. Journals, 1855 - 1885

9 items

Journal, 24 July 1855 - 17 November 1858 (File 1)

Describes journey from London to France, Greece and Russia (July-Aug. 1855) service in Crimea (Aug. 1855-June 1856), return to England, voyage to India (Oct.-Nov. 1857), service in India during the Mutiny, including the siege of Lucknow. At the beginning is a brief account of Scratchley's early life (1835-55). There is also a typescript copy of the first part of the diary (July 1855-July 1856).

Journal, 18 November 1858 - 4 August 1860 (File 2)

Describes service in India, including a trip to Simla, voyage to Australia with a detachment of Royal Engineers (April-June 1860), and impressions of Melbourne.

Journal, 13 August 1860 - 28 June 1863 (File 3)

Contains quite detailed entries, describing life in Victoria, including visits to Geelong, Ballarat and other towns, work on defences of Melbourne, construction of batteries at Sandridge and Williamstown, purchase of military stores, work of Defence Commission, activities of Volunteer Engineers and Victorian Rifle Association, meetings with Governor Sir Henry Barkly and politicians including W.C. Haines, Victorian politics, departure of Engineers for New Zealand (Aug. 1862), marriage (Nov. 1862), visit to Tasmania, and overseas news. There are a few cuttings and photographs of Scratchley.

Journal, 1 January 1864 - 31 December 1865 (File 4)

Describes service in England, at Portsmouth, Liverpool, Southsea and Woolwich, social events, and international affairs. The 1865 entries are very brief. At the beginning are lists of the Corps of Royal Engineers and statements of Scratchley's services.

Journal, 1 January 1866 - 30 January 1869 (File 5)

Mostly brief entries, describing work at Woolwich and the War Office and a visit to Switzerland.

Journal, 1 January 1884 - 31 December 1884 (File 6)

Mostly brief entries, describes a visit to Italy, work on reports on Australian defences, meetings with Australian Agents-General, meetings at the Colonial Office concerning Scratchley's appointment as Special High Commissioner for New Guinea, and social events. Includes account of time spent on assignments for New South Wales and Victorian Governments.

Journal, 1885 (File 7)

Very brief entries, kept in Sydney, 2-8 April 1885. In same journal are entries for period 14 November-31 December 1885, probably written by Scratchley's secretary G.S. Fort, describing journeys with Scratchley in New Guinea and to coastal islands on S.S. Governor Blackall, illness and death of Scratchley, voyage to Melbourne, and the funeral.

Journal, 27 August 1885 - 30 October 1885 (File 8)

Detailed entries on loose sheets, apparently written for Lady Scratchley, describing visit to Cooktown, arrival at and impressions of Port Moresby, dealings with H. Romilly, G. Askwith, G.S. Fort, Rev. W.G. Lawes, Rev. J. Chalmers, Capt. T. Lake, A. Musgrave, J.W. Lindt and others, visits to villages and meetings with chiefs, investigations of murders, cruises along southern coast of New Guinea in S.S. Governor Blackall, future plans, dislike of traders and other subjects. There is also an imcomplete letter to Lady Scratchley referring to the cruise (30 Oct. 1885) and a copy of a Colonial Office despatch concerning Scratchley's title and precedence (16 July 1885).

Journal, 1 November 1885 - 20 November 1885 (File 9)

Contemporary pressed copies of the last entries in Scratchley's journal, describing meetings with A. Musgrave, Rev. J. Chalmers and H.O. Forbes and further journeys in New Guinea.

Series II. Certificates and Commissions, 1836 - 1880

The documents include Scratchley's certificate of baptism (1836), his commissions in the Army (1851-71), a commission appointing him Commander of the Victorian Volunteer Artillery and Engineers (1862), a Master Mason certificate (1863), and a commission appointing him Commissioner for Queensland at the 1881 Melbourne International Exhibition.

Series III. Indian Papers, 1858

Miscellaneous papers, including maps, notes, report and sketches of the fort and entrenchments of Kussia Rampoor, Oudh (7 November 1858), a list of casualties in 1857, and an undated pamphlet, A brief history of Lucknow with an account of its principal buildings.

Series IV. Personal Account Book, 1864 - 1872

Small account book recording Scratchley's receipts and expenditure and including a copy of his will (14 March 1864).

Series V. Official Papers, Correspondence and Notes, 1854 - 1885

3 items

Folder of papers, 1854 - 1885 (File 1)

In no discernible order, including statements of services, notes on field fortifications, copies of correspondence relating to Scratchley's work for the Victorian Defence Commission (1862-63), correspondence with Sir William Jervois relating to an honour for Scratchley (1878), copies of letters concerning Scratchley's work in Tasmania (1878), correspondence about a personal flag for the Special Commissioner for New Guinea, and a letter from H. Romilly to the Colonial Office concerning Scratchley's death (24 December 1885).

Volume of papers, 1878 - 1885 (File 2)

Including the second report of the Colonial Defence Committee on the defences of Australia and New Zealand (1878), third progress report on the defences of Tasmania (6 December 1879), cuttings from Australian newspapers on volunteer forces (1879), report on the defences of New Zealand (1 March 1880), progress report on the defences of Victoria (1 April 1880), cuttings on modern warfare and torpedo defences (1880), a pamphlet by Scratchley, Lectures on defence subjects (Melbourne, 1880), and a list of the High Commission staff and officers and crew on S.S. Governor Blackall (15 August 1885)

Folder of papers, 1856 - 1938 (File 3)

Including invitation to Portsmouth Grand Testimonial Banquet (1856), program of banquet for officers of the Arctic Expedition (20 May 1875), address by Scratchley on the occasion of an inspection of the volunteer force at Hobart by the Governor (2 December 1878), an undated address to Queensland volunteers, an address to N.S.W. Torpedo and Singalling Corps on torpedo defence (1879 Lectures on the defences of New South Wales (1879), memorandum on defences of Queensland (24 April 1882), cuttings about Scratchley (1884-85) and an article in the Sun (Sydney) about Scratchley's work for Australia (25 June 1938).

Series VI. Paintings, Drawings, Plans and Photographs, 1851 - 1885

Painting by Scratchley of an Alpine scene (1851), tracing of a pier at Cossock Bay (March 1856), tracing of 6 gun battery on Torrens Island, South Australia, sketch map of Thursday Island, and two photographs of S.S. GGovernor Blackall.

Series VII. Official Notes on New Guinea

Exercise book, arranged alphabetically, containing brief and often cryptic entries on many subjects relating to New Guinea, references to books and reports, and some general reflections.

Series VIII. Papers and Cuttings on New Guinea and death of Scratchley, 1885 - 1901

3 items

Folder of papers, 1885 - 1901 (File 1)

Including cuttings from Brisbane Courier on New Guinea (1885), small volume of cuttings from Melbourne newspapers on death of Scratchley, a letter from the Colonial Office to P.A. Scratchley concerning his uncle's death (4 December 1885), copies of official reports of G.S. Fort and a surgeon on the illness and death of Scratchley, copy of the inscription on his coffin, account of E.V. Miles relating to Scratchley's estate (25 December 1893), and P.A. Scratchley. The Scratchley Family; a genealogical sketch (1901).

Bundle of letters and cables to Lady Scratchley concerning Scratchley's death, 1885 - 1892 (File 2)

Correspondents include Lord Carrington, Lady Loch, Sir Samuel Way, Bishop J. Moorhouse, F. Napier Broome, Rev. W.G. Lawes, H.O. Forbes, C.F. Roberts and P.A. Scratchley. There are also letters to Lady Scratchley from G.S. Fort (June-Dec. 1885), a copy of the funeral service, a resolution of sympathy passed by the N.S.W. Legislative Assembly, and a draft power of attorney from Lady Scratchley to S. Browne and S. Stawell (1892)

Two long letters from G.S. Fort to Lady Scratchley describing Scratchley's characteristics and working methods and his fatal illness, December 1885 - May 1886 (File 3)

There is also a brief biography, in typescript, of Scratchley.

Series IX. Miscellaneous Letters

Bundle of family letters, mainly undated, including letters written to Scratchley by his sister Matilda. There is also a copy of his diary for Sept. 1885.

Series X. Miscellaneous Newspaper Cuttings, 1877 - 1887

Cuttings concerning Scratchley's work on Australian defence, appointment as Special Commissioner for New Guinea, funeral, and publication of Australian defences and New Guinea (1887). They appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday Review, Australasian Sketcher, Sydney Mail, Advertiser, Brisbane Courier and other papers.

Series XI. Papers concerning New Guinea Artefacts, 1887 - 1891

Lists of New Guinea artefacts collected by Scratchley and correspondence of Lady Scratchley concerning the loan of them to the Liverpool Royal Jubilee Exhibition (1887) and the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology (1889).