There is something very human about being drawn into mysterious parts of history, those events that leave an unsettled feeling that begs for more research in order to try and solve the mystery by piecing together any information that can be gathered. Frustratingly this process can take years. Even Decades or centuries. Even modern techniques cannot always find answers. The lost Franklin Expedition was one such case, a devastating loss of life and promise. A Victorian tempt to explore the Canadian artic gone catastrophically wring. All the Victorians could do was base their assumptions of the testimony of the Inuit and artefacts they could find scattered across the frozen wastes. The two ships; the Erebus and Terror where not even found until 2014 and 2016 respectively. Forensic testing that began in the 80s also began to fold what had been a haunting mystery for so long. When we line up the original evidence and our modern revisions we can finally begin to bring together a clearer narrative of just what happened to the ill-fated Franklin expedition.
This series begins to explore the story of Franklin and his men, from the hopeful beginning to the unfortunate demise.

AUDIO ESSAY: Fate of Franklin: The preparations

Here we explore the preparations and cultural significance of the Franklin expedition and its leading figures.

Lady Franklin, Wife of Sir John commissioned photographs of the officers of the Erebus and Crozier. Crozier’s officers on the Terror where not included in the set. Likely for reasons of cost, time or simply not seeing a great need to present all of those of rank. The pictures where published in the London Illustrated news as part of the coverage of the launch of the ships.

  • Additional facts:

  • The ships had three ‘pets’. These where an unnamed cat (To help control rats), A Newfoundland dog named Neptune and a Monkey named Jacko. The Monkey was a gift from Lady Franklin who also provided a range of costumes for him, claiming she thought “It would bring the men great amusement”. In letters sent by Franklin he claimed Jacko was lovable but a notorious thief. Jacko was also later discovered to be a girl but kept the name.
  • Crozier and Franklin had known each other for years, personal tensions where possibly bubbling under the surface. Crozier had a courtship with Franklins niece, Sophia Carcroft.  He had even asked her to marry him twice. Franklin even mentions this in a letter to Sophia’s mother before the expedition, claiming “Croziers and I’’s friendship continues to grow, He is the best second I could ask for. He thankfully not mentioned Sophy yet. I have not considered it proper to introduce any mention of her in my conversation. I shall not however avoid doing so if he gives me the opportunity.”
  • Fortnum and Mason supplied luxury goods to the officers such as tea and sugar for a lower price, essentially using the opportunity to advertise themselves as a supplier to the supposed great endeavour.
  • Crozier had made six trips to the artic, even having educated himself in the native language. He also established a friendship with a tribal leader who was introduced to the British public under the name ‘Cro-Zher’. The Inuit named Crozier ‘Aglooka’ in a similar fashion. It was a tradition of the tribe to exchange names or ‘Rename’ allies from other tribes or regions.

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