Franklin, Sir John

Franklin, Sir John,

1786–1847, British explorer in N Canada whose disappearance caused a widespread search of the Arctic. Entering the navy in 1801, he fought in the battle of Trafalgar. On his first overland expedition (1819–22) in N Canada, his party crossed the barren grounds from Great Slave Lake to the Arctic coast at the mouth of the Coppermine River and explored eastward along the coast for c.175 mi (280 km). In his Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea (1823, repr. 1969), Franklin describes this journey. On his next expedition (1825–27), the party descended the Mackenzie River and surveyed another long stretch of the Arctic shoreline, westward to Return Reef (c.160 mi/260 km from Point Barrow, Alaska) and eastward to the mouth of the Coppermine. By way of the Coppermine he went to Great Bear Lake, where he built Fort Franklin (now Déline). Franklin's Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea (1828, repr. 1968) is an account of these feats. On both of these expeditions he was accompanied by Sir George BackBack, Sir George,
1796–1878, British explorer in N Canada. He accompanied Sir John Franklin on arctic expeditions in 1818, 1819–22, and 1824–27. On an expedition (1833–35) to search for the missing John Ross, Back explored the Great Fish River (now Back
..... Click the link for more information.

After serving (1836–43) as governor of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), Franklin set out in the Erebus and the Terror in 1845 to search for the Northwest PassageNorthwest Passage,
water routes through the Arctic Archipelago, N Canada, and along the northern coast of Alaska between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Even though the explorers of the 16th cent.
..... Click the link for more information.
. When, three years later, no word from him had been received, there was dispatched the first of the more than 40 parties that in the following years were to search the Arctic for traces of the expedition. Although the geographical knowledge gained by the searchers was immense, no certain clues as to Franklin's fate were revealed until John RaeRae, John,
1813–93, Scottish arctic explorer, b. Orkney Islands. A physician in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company in N Canada, Rae made (1846–47) a journey of exploration from Fort Churchill to the Gulf of Boothia, which he described in his
..... Click the link for more information.
, in 1853–54, and Sir Francis McClintockMcClintock, Sir Francis Leopold,
1819–1907, British arctic explorer. As a lieutenant in the navy he was assigned to his first arctic service in 1848, when Sir James Clark Ross went in search of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin.
..... Click the link for more information.
, between 1857 and 1859, found evidence of the great arctic tragedy. The latter expedition, fitted by Lady Franklin, found records at Point Victory that established that Franklin's ships had been frozen in the ice between Victoria Island and King William Island. After his death in 1847, the survivors had abandoned ship in 1848 and had undertaken a journey southward over the frozen wastes of Boothia Peninsula toward civilization. Of the entire expedition of some 129 men, not one is known to have survived. Relics and documents of the Franklin party and of later search expeditions were found into the late 20th cent., but not until 2014 was the wreck of the Erebus found, in the E Queen Maud Gulf off the Adelaide Peninsula. In 2016 the Terror was found off SW King William Island.


See biographies of Franklin by A. H. Markham (1891) and H. D. Traill (1896); the life, diaries, and correspondence of his wife, Lady Franklin (ed. by W. F. Rawnsley, 1923); R. Collinson, Journal of HMS Enterprise on the Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin's Ships (1869, repr. 1976); P. Nantor, Arctic Breakthrough (1970); L. Neatby, The Search for Franklin (1970); A. Brandt, The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage (2010); P. Watson, Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition (2017).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Franklin, Sir John. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8,h ed.
At the suggestion of Lady Franklin, Sir John's second wife, "public prayers were offered in 1849 throughout the country for the safety of those serving in the Arctic regions" (Kirwan 167).
"Franklin, Sir John." Although editions of the Britannica were published between 1911 and 1920, major revisions were made only in the editions cited in the text.