Franklin, Sir John
b. 1786-04-16
d. 1847
John Franklin was born on 16 April 1786 in Spilsby, Lincolnshire. Franklin's father had hoped his son would hold a career within the church. However, Franklin showed an early interest in exploration, joining a voyage from Hull to Lisbon at age 13. After returning, in 1800 he enlisted in the Royal Navy and was assigned to the Polyphemus. Next, he was assigned to the Investigator and sailed for Australia. The ship was abandoned and the crew joined the Porpoise; however, it was wrecked on a sandbank and the crew was stranded for six weeks. Upon arrival in London in 1803, Franklin was assigned to the Bellerophon and took part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Franklin was made Lieutenant in 1808, but was injured and discharged in 1814.
In 1818, Franklin was selected by Sir John Barrow to join one of two expeditions to the Arctic to find a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean. Franklin was put in charge of a rig named the Trent. The first expedition would fail to produce significant results.
A second expedition was launched in 1819 without the crew returning to London in the interim. Franklin and his men were sent to cross the continent to survey eastern sections of the passage with the help of supplies from the Hudson's Bay Company. Franklin's men reached Turnagain Point in 1821, having lost nine men and executed two men suspected of cannibalism. The expedition returned to London the same year, where Franklin was hailed as the man who ate his boots.
Franklin was made a captain and married Eleanor Anne Porden in 1823. Two years later, Franklin set out for his third Arctic expedition. However, he learned of his wife's death upon arrival in New York. Nonetheless, the expedition was tremendously successful in surveying the land east of the Coppermine River, and he returned to London by 1827. In 1828, he married Jane Griffin, and was knighted the following year. From 1830 to 1833, Franklin was stationed in the Mediterranean during the Greek War of Independence.
In 1836, after three years of unemployment, Franklin was made Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's land. He arrived in Hobart Town in 1837 with his wife. His time as Lieutenant Governor was unsuccessful and thus was not reappointed when his contract expired in 1843. Franklin returned to London the same year.
In 1845, Franklin was sent on his fourth and final expedition to the Arctic. In 1847, after two years of silence from the expedition, officials began to enquire about their whereabouts. From 1847 to 1859, thirty search parties were sent to find the expedition, piecing together the fate of the crew. The remains of men were found on King William's Island, and it is suspected that resorted to cannibalism due to a lack of food supplies; and more remains were found on Adelaide Peninsula, meaning that the expedition successfully reached the Northwest Passage before their death. In 1852, Franklin was made Rear Admiral. It is believed that he died sometime in 1847.1
Mentions of this person in the documents
Vessels in this document





RMS Trent, 1841-1865

Places in this document


New York