Skip to main content

Papers of Sir Gerald Elliot

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-1357

Scope and Contents

The collection of papers is composed of (in Boxes 1 & 2) material in the form of memos, notes, lectures, off-prints, talks, illustrations, press cuttings, and correspondence, relating to:

  1. - Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Scottish Council Development and Industry
  2. - company structures and company responsibilities
  3. - companies and institutions with which Sir Gerald Elliot has been involved including the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust, The National Museums of Scotland, the Irish Fish Meal Co., Forth Ports Authority, Biotechnica, and Furness and Salvesen (Agencies) Ltd
  4. - a book on 'Slekten Salvesen' - the Salvesen family/genealogy
  5. - ship losses incurred by Salvesen, 1939-1945 war
  6. - fish stocks and fisheries control, and often with relevance to Salvesen
  7. - politics and religion, and devolution and the EMU
  8. - ports and transport
  9. - the Falklands conflict
  10. - the Salvesen de-merger
  11. - Christian Salvesen PLC - a small archive covering: a memorial service in Norway 2006; correspondence, notes and lectures; the book 'A whaling enterprise'; talks on whaling and work (Norwegian typescript) by Per Ottesen; illustrations and postal history (the Antarctic and whaling); history; and the International Whaling Commission
  12. - Court membership, government structure - Edinburgh University
  13. - status of Rectors - Edinburgh University
  14. - Scottish Arts Council; Arts Council of GB; Scottish Opera
  15. - heritage and the arts
  16. - printed matter relating to whaling, South Georgia, and the Salvesen Co.

and, in addition (in Box 3) the following materials:

  1. - copy of 'En sann Odysse', Svend Foyn Bruun
  2. - copy of 'Dr. MacIntosh's Diary 1961-1962'... south on 'Venturer'... ashore at Leith Harbour... Home by 'Harvester'
  3. - copy of 'Diary of Dr. MacIntosh. Antarctica, 1956-1957'
  4. - copy of 'South Georgia Museum. Annual Report 2012-13'
  5. - copy of ts paper on the ship 'Southern Harvester'... stats' and information
  6. - copy of 'The story of Christian Salvesen 1846-1996', by Nigel Watson
  7. - copy of 'Peder Mikkelsen og Svend Foyn - et 150 aars minne', Svend Foyn Bruun
  8. - copy of 'The status of the world's whales', by Edward D. Mitchell (pub'd by Canadian Nature Federation, and reprinted from 'Nature Canada' Vol.2. No.4. Oct-Dec 1973)
  9. - copy of 'Whaling 1937-1967: the International control of whale stocks', Sir Gerald Elliot, 1997 (Kendall Whaling Museum Monograph Series No.10)
  10. - offprint, 'Eighteenth century Nantucket whaling', by Douglass C. Fonda Jr., inscribed for Christian Salvesen & Co., for the company Library
  11. - offprint, 'Technological transformation in the Norwegian whaling industry in the interwar period', by Bjoern L. Basberg, 1987, inscribed for Gerald Elliot
  12. - offprint, 'Fischerei und walfang', by Klaus Barthelmess, inscribed by the author, and from 'Deutsches Schiffahrtsarchiv', 19/1996
  13. - offprint, 'Wrecks, hulks and other vessel remains at South Georgia, Falkland Islands Dependencies', by R. K. Headland
  14. - bundle of off-prints, papers, scraps of other ts material... copies
  15. - small bundle of letters (2), and photographs
  16. - small bundle of Canadian tourist brochures... historical sites


  • Creation: 1950-2013


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of visit.

Biographical / Historical

Gerald Henry Elliot was born in Edinburgh on 24 December 1923. His parents were Captain J. S. Elliot RN and Magda Salvesen. He was educated at Marlborough College and then he studied at New College, Oxford, where he graduated with the degree of BA PPE in 1948. During the Second World War, he served as a Captain with the FF Rifles, Indian Army (Frontier Force), 1942-1946.

Elliot joined the family firm of Christian Salvesen and Company in 1948 and quickly became involved in its whaling operations, making his first trip to South Georgia just two months after his appointment. He slowly took over the management of the whaling fleet from his uncle, Harold Salvesen, and was involved in improving processing methods, the rationalisation of whale catches, ordering of supplies and overseeing recruitment. In 1950, he married Margaret Ruth Whale, daughter of the Rev. J. S. Whale.

Following the cessation of whaling in the 1960s Elliot became involved in Salvesen's fishing interests in South America. He retired from the company (Christian Salvesen plc) in 1988 having been its Chairman since 1981. He was knighted in 1986. His wife, Lady Elliot, has also been honoured, receiving an MBE in 1993. In October 2007, the French based transport and logistics provider Norbert Dentressangle announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Christian Salvesen.

It has been observed that the decision of the Salvesen firm, chaired by Sir Gerald H. Elliot, to sell two disused whaling stations on South Georgia to Constantino Davidoff, an Argentinean scrap merchant, led inadvertently to the Falkland islands conflict. When an Argentinean scrap team arrived at South Georgia in March 1982 it was aboard an Argentinean warship. The Argentinean flag was raised on South Georgia and Argentinean troops seized the Falklands two weeks later.

In 1998 Sir Gerald published A Whaling Enterprise: Salvesen in the Antarctic detailing the history of Salvesen's whaling interests, the lives of whalers and the technical and economic frameworks which supported the industry. He has also written papers on the control of whaling and fishing, arts administration and economic management.

Sir Gerald Elliot has also been a Director of the Scottish Provident Institution, 1971-1989, and then Chairman 1983-1989, and Chairman of the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust, 1987-1994. He has been a Trustee of the National Museums of Scotland, 1987-1991, and a member of the Court, Edinburgh University, 1984-1993. He has held many other positions too in commerical and public organisations.

In addition to his knighthood awarded in 1986, Sir Gerald is also a Knight First Class of the Order of the White Rose of Finland.


3 boxes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession no: E2012.05; SC-Acc-2017-0020

Related Materials

Also within Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, are the Archives of Messrs. Christian Salvesen Limited (Coll-36), and copies of Diaries of Dr. I. M. MacIntosh - Antarctica, 1956-1957, 1961-1962 (Coll-1285).

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Papers of Sir Gerald Elliot FRSE (b. 1923)
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379