Jane Franklin (nee Griffin) was born in 1792 in London, daughter of John Griffin, a wealthy silk weaver, and Mary Guillemard. She became a close friend of the poet, Eleanor Anne Porden, who married the Arctic explorer, John Franklin, and died shortly after Franklin had departed on the British Naval Exploring Expedition [second Arctic Land expedition], 1825-1827. Renewing his acquaintance with the Griffin family on his return to Britain, Franklin married Jane on 5 November 1828. He was knighted the following year.
Between 1830 and 1834, Jane travelled in Europe, Syria and North Africa while her husband was stationed in the Mediterranean. In 1836, she accompanied Franklin to Van Diemen's Land [Tasmania] after he had accepted the post of lieutenant governor. During his tenure, she took a keen interest in social reform, particularly in improving the welfare of female convicts, and she continued her travels, touring both Australia and New Zealand.
Following their return to Britain in 1844, Franklin was appointed by the Admiralty to lead the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848. Sailing from London in HMS Terror and HMS Erebus in May 1845, the expedition was last seen heading for Lancaster Sound by two whalers in northern Baffin Bay in late July 1845. After that, the expedition disappeared and Franklin was never seen again.
Between 1847 and 1859, Lady Franklin took a leading part in organizing the searches for the missing expedition, during the course of which the main facts regarding the route taken and final fate of the expedition were established. The two vessels had become beset north of King William Island, where they had spent two winters between September 1846 and April 1848. Franklin died on 11 June 1847 and the command had devolved on Francis Crozier. Abandoning the two vessels on 22 April 1848, the 105 survivors led by Crozier set out toward Back River. All perished during the journey.
In 1860, Lady Franklin became the first woman to receive the founder's medal of the Royal Geographical Society for her efforts in organizing the search expeditions. She continued to travel extensively, accompanied by her niece by marriage, Sophia Cracroft, visiting Alaska, the United States, Hawaii, Canada, South America, China, Japan, India and Europe. She died on 18 July 1875 in London.
Published work The life, diaries and correspondence of Lady Jane Franklin, 1792-1875, edited by Willingham Franklin Rawnsley, Erskine Macdonald London (1923) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Franklin, Jane]