Biography

Jane Griffin was born in 1791 in London, the daughter of John Griffin, a well-to-do silk weaver. She was a close friend of John Franklin's first wife, Eleanor Ann Porden, who died shortly after Franklin departed for his second Arctic land expedition in 1824. When Franklin returned, he renewed his acquaintance with Jane Griffin. They were married in 1828 and, although they had no children, raised Franklin's daughter from his first marriage, Eleanor. She led an active life, traveling around the world, and working, for example, as a leader in the cause of prison reform in Tasmania during her husband's years as governor there. In 1843, she founded the Tasmanian Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners. Franklin also traveled widely in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania, becoming the first woman to climb Mt Wellington, as well as the first to cross Tasmania from Hobart to Macquarie Harbor. She founded a college (Jane Franklin Hall, an impendent college of the university of Tasmania), and was an active horticulturist. She established a private botanic gardens, "Ancanthe," and a natural history museum at Lenah Valley, near Hobart in Tasmania. Jane Franklin's niece Sophia Cracroft became her constant companion, and they frequently traveled together. She sponsored expeditions commanded by William Penney (1850-1851), Charles Codrington Forsyth (1850), William Kennedy and Joseph-René Bellot (1851-1852), Francis Leopold McClintock (18571859), and Allen Young (1875). In 1860, she was awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1873, at the age of 82, still intent on vindicating her husband's reputation, she financed an Arctic expedition led by Allen Young aboard the Pandora in search of the elusive papers that she believed would set the record straight. Eventually, age and illness confined her to bed, and her vast expenditures forced her to seek more modest lodgings. She was ill, and unable to observe the work when her marble monument to Sir John was being erected at Westminster Abbey in 1874. She died on July 18, 1875, on the eve of its dedication.

Russell A. Potter

See also Franklin, Sir John; McClintock, Francis Leopold; North West Passage, Exploration of; Penney, William; Rae, John

Further Reading

Dickens, Charles, "The Lost Arctic Voyagers." Household

Words, December 2, 1854 Rawnsley, Willingham Franklin (editor), The Life, Diaries, and Correspondence of Jane Lady Franklin, 1792-1875, London: Erskin Macdonald, 1923 Woodward, Frances J., Portrait of Jane: A Life of Lady Franklin, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951

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