John and Lady Franklin

John Franklin, one of twelve children, was born on April 15th, 1786 in England. When Franklin was 14 he joined the Royal Navy and shortly after was sent into battle. Franklin fought at sea until 1814. In 1818, Franklin had his first experience in the Arctic. He was second in command on an unsuccessful expedition by ship to find the Northwest Passage and reach the North Pole. Later that same year, Franklin commanded an expedition trying to map the Northwest Passage by land. This trip was a disaster because Franklin had not been well prepared. Eleven of the team died and Franklin became known as The Man Who Ate His Boots because he had sucked the juice from his boots in order to survive.

In 1823, Franklin married Eleanor Porden and in 1824 his daughter Eleanor was born. In 1825 he set out on another Arctic expedition, once again trying to map out the Northwest Passage. This time the mission was a success. But Franklin returned home to some unpleasant news. His wife had died six days after he left for this mission.

Franklin took some time off from the Arctic at this point. He was knighted and honored by many and in 1828 he married his second wife, Jane Griffin. Jane Griffin was the daughter of a wealthy silk weaver and 36 years old when she and Franklin were married. She loved to read and was a very intelligent, persistent, and powerful woman. And like her husband, Jane loved to travel.

After his marriage, Franklin was governor of Tasmania for a little bit before heading out on his next Arctic expedition. In 1845, with the ships HMS Terror and Erebus, Franklin set out on his final expedition. Once Franklin had spent three winters in the Arctic without sending word back home Jane began to get worried. In 1848 the search for Franklin and his crew began. In 1849 Jane’s panic began and she dedicated her life and resources to trying to find her missing husband and his crew. Later a journal was found that said that Franklin had died on June 11th, 1847.