Sir John Franklin

Lincolnshire's most famous Explorer

A plaque on the wall of the Franklin House Bakery denotes this was the birth place of Lincolnshire explorer Sir John Franklin.

Born on April 16th 1786, the fourth son of nine children and educated at Louth, he experienced his first taste of the sea aged 12 when he visited Saltfleet. He joined the Navy at the age of 14 and fought in two of the greatest sea battles: Copenhagen in 1801 and Trafalgar in 1805. He served as Midshipman to another Lincolnshire explorer, his cousin Matthew Flinders. Being shipwrecked off Australia did not deter the young John Franklin who later took part in exploration to the Arctic. He is often referred to as 'The man who ate his boots' as in 1819 while commanding his first expedition to the Arctic he and his companions suffered incredible hardship and survived by eating lichen and leather from their boots.

In 1829 he was awarded the Geographic Society Gold Medal and was knighted by King George IV, he was also presented with a silver plate by the people of Spilsby. In 1836 he was appointed Governor of Tasmania. At the age of 59 he made his last voyage to seek the North-west passage between Canada and the Arctic. Sadly the entire expedition disappeared and it was 12 years before their fate was known. During these years his widow Jane spent all her money organizing ships to search for the missing party. Finally, she received confirmation that her husband had died on Beechy Island in July 1847. It was assumed he died from natural causes and the rest of the party by disease and starvation. Several suggestions have been put forward and one theory is that the probable cause was lead poisoning from faulty cans.

Dominating the market area is an impressive statute of this remarkable man.

Eileen Chantry.

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