Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Sir John Franklin


Franklin, Sir John (1786-1847), explorer, was born on April 16, 1786 , the twelfth and youngest son of Willingham Franklin, of Spitsby, Lincolnshire, England. He entered the Royal Navy in 1800, and he fought under Nelson at Trafalgar. In 1819 he was appointed to command an expedition to explore the Arctic coast of North America eastward from the mouth of the Coppermine ; and he returned from this expedition in 1822, after a narrow escape from death by starvation. In 1825-7 he made a second expedition; and on this occasion he succeeded in exploring, the Arctic coast of North America both east and west of the mouth of the Mackenzie river. In 1836 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Van Dieman's Land; and he occupied this position until 1843. In 1845 he was appointed to command a third expedition to the Arctic regions, this time with the object of penetrating by water from the Atlantic to the Pacific. On this expedition, his two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, were held up in the ice; and he and all his companions perished. Franklin himself died on June 11, 1847. In the search for Franklin nearly fifty expeditions were sent out during the years 1847-57; but it was only in 1857 that the fate of himself and his men was fully discovered, by Captain McClintock, in a yacht fitted out by Lady Franklin. Franklin was twice married, (1) to Eleanor Anne Porde (d. 1825), by whom he had one daughter, and (2) 1828 to Jane Griffin (d. 1875). In 1829 he was created a knight bachelor, and the University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of D.C.L. He was the author of a Narrative of a journey to the shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1819-22 (London, 1823), and a Narrative of a second expedition to the shores of the Polar Sea in the years 1825-7 (London, 1828). See H. D. Traill, Life of Sir John Franklin (London, 1896), S. Osborn, Career, last voyage, and fate of Sir John Franklin (London, 1865), F. L. McClintock, Narrative of the discovery of the fate of Sir John Franklin and his companions (Boston, 1860), S. Leacock, Adventurers of the far north (Toronto, 1914).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 386-387. 


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College