Hall, correspondence

Scope and Content

  • MS 116/31/1-2;D Letters (2) to William Penny, 14 February 1850 [Regarding purchase of a ship for Franklin search expedition] 2 leaves, holograph

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1845 Sir John Franklin sailed north in command of the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition. Sent by the Admiralty the two ships HMS Erebus (Franklin) and HMS Terror (Francis Crozier) were to search for a passage via Lancaster Sound. With provisions designed to last three years the expedition sailed north in May 1845. Whalers in Baffin Bay were the last Europeans to see the two ships in July of 1845.

Many searches were conducted for the missing expedition during the course of which the main facts regarding the route taken and the final fate of the expedition were established.

The British Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader William Penny) was at the outset a private venture by Jane, Lady Franklin which was outfitted by the Admiralty. Instructed to search for the missing expedition in Jones Sound, Wellington Channel and beyond Cape Walker the brigs HMS Lady Franklin and HMS Sophia sailed north in April 1850. Finding Jones Sound blocked by ice they entered Lancaster Sound and joined the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Austin) at Beechey Island where Austin's officers had found traces of Franklin's expedition.

Following a meticulous search of the island, Penny was able to confirm that this was the site of Franklin's first winter quarters when his men discovered three graves dating from 1846. The expedition spent the winter in Assistance Bay, Cornwallis Island, in close proximity to Austin and Sir John Ross. Between May and July 1851, Penny discovered Queens Channel and sighted the strait that now bears his name.



Related Material

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material relating to this expedition; see SPRI collections GB 15 Thomas Adamson, GB 15 Sir George Back, GB 15 Sophia Cracroft, GB 15 J E Churchwood GB 15 Bernard Dryden, GB 15 James Peak, 0015 Jane Franklin, GB 15 Andrew Hamilton, GB 15 GB 15 William Penny and GB 15 Peter Sutherland