Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Thursday, June 16, 2022
James Fitzjames was so struck by the letters that he enclosed them with one to his sister-in-law Elizabeth Coningham, with this preamble:
"I leave you these two letters from my little friends – as I am sure any-thing that gave me pleasure will gratify you ... perhaps you will think I am foolish to care for the little children’s letters – but so it is – I am as much pleased with their expressions of regard – exaggerated though they be – as I should be with the more studied, but probably not so genuine, effusions of many grown people."
The children in question were Eliza Francis ("Fanny") and Maria Jane Campbell, the daughters of Fitzjames's friend Henry Dundas Campbell, a decorated soldier and later a colonial governor who had befriended Fitzjames early in his career, helping him secure his appointment as Midshipman in 1831. Fanny would have been around twelve years old, and Maria a year younger. Writing in her best school hand, Fanny expressed her sentiments as well as any adult:
"I am very sorry indeed to hear you are going to leave England so soon we shall think of you when you are far away in the snow and some times when your poor toes are freezing with cold you must think of us as we shall be longing for your return."
Maria's letter was more chatty, expressing the regret that Fitzjames could not visit them again until his return, adding "I hope you will not forget us when you are in among the snow and when you come home you will pay us a nice long visit." She closed her letter "Your ever affectionately and attached friend, Maria Jane Campbell" and then added a curious postscript: "Missie says just as if you care a fig for our attachment to you."
"I think the love of a child is a thing not to be thrown away lightly.There are some grown up people too, whose love I would not exchange for any worldly good. And of these I need not say you & William stand far highest in the heartof your affectionateJames Fitzjames"
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
|Sketch by John Irving|
“The ships are getting on famously – our engine is down alongside. It came drawn by 10 coal black horses & weighs 15 tons.”
- James Fitzjames to John Barrow Jr, before 4 April 1845
“ Our engine once ran somewhat faster on the Birmingham line. It is placed athwart ships in our afterhold, and merely has its axle extended aft, so as to become the shaft of the screw. It has a funnel the same size and height as it had on the railway, and makes the same dreadful puffings and screamings, and will astonish the Esquimaux not a little.”
- John Irving to Catherine Irving [sister-in-law], 16 May 1845
There are, of course, many further questions which I hope the Parks Canada underwater archaeology unit will be one day able to answer: Were they fitted with Stephenson’s link valve gear? This important mechanism allowed the cut-off of steam admitted to the cylinder to be minutely controlled for best efficiency or maximum power. Did they employ Isaac Babbitt’s patent bearings? -- a development which increased by more than tenfold the mileage a locomotive could do before its axle bearings needed overhaul. Was the supporting structure made of wood or cast iron?
The rich trove of new material assembled for May we be spared to meet on Earth, fascinating as it is, doesn't offer any further answers to these questions. They are frankly not the sort of details that departing explorers would put in their last letters to their families and loved ones. However, and perhaps even more interestingly, they do provide an insight into the personalities of the two men charged with the care and operation of the steam engines and they highlight the contrasting attitudes which the two captains held with regard to both the engines and to the engineers.
Franklin was certainly forward looking in his enthusiasm for steam power:
“I meant to have had the steam up here to see that all was right – but we really could not at present spare either the space or time. We are satisfied however that all is right and kept in order by the Engineer and it is my intention to take the first opportunity of our being beset to get the steam up, and certainly have every thing ready for its immediate use by the time we reach Lancaster Sound. We find our Engineer Mr Gregory a good & valuable man – and willing to do anything required of him.”
- John Franklin to Edward Parry, 10 July 1845
John Gregory was not a Navy man and nothing suggests he had ever been to sea before he joined the expedition. Instead he had been employed by Maudslays, the firm contracted to supply and fit the engines for Franklin’s ships. No doubt he was supremely competent in his trade and highly thought of by his employer to be entrusted with such an important task.
Gregory’s sole surviving letter to his wife, sent from the Whale Fish Islands, contains a detailed and well written account of the voyage so far with affectionate greetings and thoughts for the children. The elegant yet easily readable handwriting is particularly noteworthy.
The fraying folds in the paper and the patches of discolouration tell the poignant story of this letter being passed through many pairs of hands across the generations of his family beginning with his wife and the five children he left behind.
In March of 2021 it was announced that a team led by Douglas R. Stenton had matched DNA extracted from human bones found in previous years on King William Island to living descendants of John Gregory in South Africa. This is the first time that the remains of an expedition member have been positively identified.
Crozier’s feelings towards steam stand in contrast with those of his commander:
“how I do wish the Engine was again on the Dover line, & the Engineer sitting on the top of it, he is [a] dead and alive wretch full of difficulties and is now quite dissatisfied because he has not the leading stoker to assist him in doing nothing...”
- Francis Crozier to Ann, wife of James Clark Ross, 12 July 1845
The “dead and alive wretch” in this case was Engineer, First class (acting), James Thompson
Thompson’s letters to his brother Charles are not as elegantly worded as Gregory’s example but the excellent handwriting shows he was a diligent student, except with regard to punctuation. His letters are packed with myriad details of the voyage to date from the quantities of foodstuffs provided each day to descriptions of the inhabitants of the Whale Fish islands. Indeed, Thompson comes across as one of the more compassionate observers of the Inuit who were encountered, referring to them as “A harmless set of People and very honest.” Gregory, too, describes them in similar terms so perhaps both engineers’ working class roots gave them a greater affinity for a people who led a precarious struggle for existence.
It seems that Crozier's lack of enthusiasm for the new technology of steam power was shared by many in the Navy.
|The tablet from the Greenwich memorial|
The names of all the commissioned officers are inscribed on this monument, as well as the four other warrant officers. It therefore seems to me unjust to me that it omits the names of John Gregory and James Thompson, the engineers of Erebus and Terror.
Friday, May 6, 2022
8 Smiths Place High Street Wapping March 22/45Loving wife,I hope you have received my yesterdays letter with the one pound chake from William –There is a Letter come from Quebec from the Owner stating that if Captain Reid can be found to get him if not engaged to take charge of the Neptune and sail for Quebec 1st April – now you see how mean some Scotsmen is to pay a Master off for a few weeks. I called on them to day and told them that i wase engagen with Sir John Franklin R.N. to go with him to the North as ice Captain, but I would give them an answer on Tuesday. During th[at] time i will call on Sir John, at Woolwich, [and] if he puts me on pay just now @ £18 pe[r Month], I fix and I take my chance of the Voyage. I go [as] Master & Pilot, it is sure pay and good company. I dined with all the officers, we can find no servant, we must find one amongst [us]. You will have half pay, if I should never return, then there will be something for you and the family. Mr. Enderby will see after that what I have mentioned all Depends on putting me on pay just now, if not I take command of the old ship.
so now I Shipped yesterday with Sir John Franklin R.N. to go with him to Daviss Straits, and up Langester sound in search of a passage through, it may be two years and it may be three & four but I am quite willing to go. It is no use lying at home being allwise in measurie the thoughts of your leg and leaving the family is worse than the Voyage. Sir John told me that if I went the voyage with him, and landed safe in England again, i would bee looked after all my life. The ship I go in is the Erebus, and the other is the Terror. just such ships as the Hecla but not Quite so Large. Sir John is a man 60 years old. Quite a Hero he is very fond of me as is the officers, as i answer all the quistences they put to me about the Land and ice about the Quarter we are going to.
Mr. Valentin[e] wase casten for the Scurvey in his Leges and the others for several things an the Black Ladi wase casten for his Leg having once Broken. – – I Received a Letter from aunty at Dundee mentioning she had Received the four Pound, I would like to here if you have Received the Money. in all sent £4[...] I will write before I Leave the River.Remains,your Loving HusbandJames Reid
Loving wife, mind yourself. Dount you trust to one of them for as soon as they can do for themselves they will never mind you nor me, you dount see so much of the world as I see. Let them from Home, then the Chief Part of young men Forgets there Parents and friends. Take all but give nothing, mind this Take care of yourself & the three young Lasess they are not able to mind themselves. –
Green Hithe London River May 19th/45
Loving wifewe are now all clear for a Start. will sail to day we are to bee towed with steam Down to the orkness – Lady Franklin hase ordered all the officers Likeness to bee taken and mine amongst the Rest, with my uniform on – She keeps them all by herself – Sir John Franklin Gave us prayers yesterday his Lady wase in Company, your order will bee sent to you when due. I got 6 Month’s Pay – I joined the Erebus 27 March, bee sure and Call on Mr. Finlason the Tailor and make arrangement with him, you know more about his account than I do, once you are underway with your half pay, you will bee abale to pay him part Every month, once you get the account below twenty pounds he canat Hurt you – the other Ice Master wase taken out of the ship for £37, but I Rather think he hase got it settled, we paid the Ships Comp[an]y on Saturday last. David Leys is not Quartermaster. I have nothing more in the meen time will write by the steamer if we dount go into the orkness.Good Biy keep your hart up we will both meate again, this voyage perhapes will [be] the last that ever I make. I have nothing to doo my work is Coming. I am sorry to say I am badly of[f] for Quarter Masters, and we are the leading ship, it will keep me much on my legs – I think I have Every thing Right but short of White Shirts, and whate I have are Quite gone. This Leave me Quite well. Hopes it will find you and the family the same, by this time you have Received my Chest. –Remainsyour Loving HusbandJames Reid
You mention that your old Gray Hare wase not worth the sending to me, I cane only tell you that your old gray Hare is as good to me as ever, and I would [have] been very Happy if you hade inclosed one Lock of it.
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Reid's own letters, however, proved far more elusive than Fitzjames's; although his family in Australia (to which his daughter Ann had emigrated) searched for them for years, they seemed to have gone entirely missing. A few years back, my friend and colleague Andrés Paredes found excerpts from some of them in an Australian newspaper from 1920; until then, they had still been in family hands. The newspaper articles spoke of them having been given to the "National Museum" in Adelaide (now the South Australian Museum), but that entity had no record of them.
Until scarcely two years ago, these excerpts were all we knew; that and all other queries to research libraries in Australia turned up nothing. And then, like a bolt out of the blue, our fellow Franklinite Alexa Price found a listing for them in the online catalog of the State Library of New South Wales! This was a surprise on many levels; Reid's daughter had emigrated to Victoria, not New South Wales, and at the time the letters had been reported in the press in 1920, they were in the hands of one of Ann's nieces. They showed the letters to a certain Dr. W.P. McCormack, a physician with a practice in Tumby Bay; it was he who recommended their donation to the museum. But how then did they end up in New South Wales? Some years previous, I'd checked the online catalogs of all the state libraries, and there no listing was to be found -- so my best explanation is that the record showed up when the SLNSW's old card catalogs were digitized and combined into a new, comprehensive one.
We can see him pondering his fate, and weighing the success of the Franklin expedition against other possibilities; unlike Naval officers, whaling captains were freelancers of a sort, competing for available commands and trading on their experience and connections. Reid had a particularly close relationship with the whaling firm of Samuel Enderby and Sons, and asked them to look after his family in the event he did not return. He was aware of the risks, and of the possible envy some might feel toward him, saying "No doubt there will bee a greate talking about me going this voyage, it will show that I am not frightened for my life, like some men." Most poignantly, he seems to have asked his wife Ann for a lock of her hair, which she declined to send, saying it was too gray. This prompted James to write:
You mention that your old Gray Hare wase not worth the sending to me, I cane only tell you that your old gray Hare is as good to me as ever, and I would [have] been very Happy if you hade inclosed one Lock of it.
As to his shipboard comrades, Reid speaks of them in admiring tones, and particularly seems to have formed a bond with young Harry Goodsir, who was assigned to the neighboring berth. "Him & I is quite chief," he wrote (chief being a Scots word for a close friend) and marveling that Harry had never been to sea before. And throughout his correspondence, his deep love for Ann and his family comes through in every word. His very last letter, sent from the Whalefish Islands, ends thusly:
Respects to Robt., Forbes, and all Friends, may the Lord bee with you and my Dear Family, for three years if not through before that time, keep yourself easy about me. Trust wee will meet Again. Remember me to William Gaudy wife & family Bidding you all Good By.
Remains your loving Husband
Monday, April 11, 2022
Roddy had a privileged childhood, being sent to Eton which he always claimed to have hated, but the contacts he made there & later at Oxford would prove invaluable to him on his travels all over the world. It would be wrong, however to imply that money was plentiful. Roddy’s father George Fenwick-Owen had inherited sufficient money to lead a comfortable life, but lost everything in the financial crash of 1929, and to make matters worse, he then ran off with the governess, leaving Roddy & his two sisters to be brought up solely by their mother Bettina. She famously claimed that she had to make do on what was previously her “dress allowance”.
But travel could be managed on a shoestring, particularly when there were contacts who could secure a passage on a ship to far flung destinations. Through a friend of a friend, Roddy ended up as Assistant Purser on Clan Urquhart, a cargo ship travelling from Liverpool to Sydney, from where another friend used his influence to get him onto a cargo boat for Fiji. Roddy then spent a year beachcombing in the South Seas, during which he was seduced by, and married, a Polynesian princess called Turia. He left her and moved on, publishing his experiences when he returned to England in his first travel book Where the Poor are Happy (Collins, 1954) along with two more novels set in the South Seas, Green Heart of Heaven and Worse than Wanton.
Roddy’s particular interest in John Franklin began in the early 1970’s. His Aunt Susan, widow of Uncle John Rawnsley, who lived at Well Vale, Lincolnshire, expressed a wish to give “her” collection of books on John Franklin to Lincoln County Library. Roddy pointed out that they weren’t hers to give. They had been inherited by his grandfather Walter Rawnsley, then passed to his wife Maud & from her to Roddy’s mother Bettina, but without having been removed from Well Vale. The deed had already been done, but Roddy turned on the charm and managed to extract them from the County Librarian, and on reading through was well & truly hooked.
“Day and night, the North-West passage haunted me” he wrote in his memoirs. His recent biography on the life of Mavis De Vere Cole, Beautiful and Beloved (Hutchinson, 1974) had been well received, which left him in a good position to ask his agent Ann McDermid, her immediate reply being:
“John Franklin? – You mean Benjamin Franklin, don’t you?”
“No, John. Sir John of the Frozen North!”
“Oh, that one … we know a lot about him in Canada, of course. Well I can always put it up to Hutchinson’s”
And Hutchinson’s reply “Well, I think that’s absolutely splendid Roddy …” made it all plain sailing!
“I ought to visit the Arctic, if I’m going to write about it properly” were Roddy’s thoughts in 1976. He mentioned his predicament to his brother-in-law by marriage, a former Ambassador to the Holy See, who remarked “Why not get someone to send you there? It shouldn’t be beyond your ingenuity!” As it happened, August 1976 was the 150th anniversary of Franklin’s arrival at Prudhoe Bay, on the second land expedition. Roddy contacted BP, who were already interested in celebrating this event and were delighted to involve a descendant of Sir John Franklin. They wanted a monument in Anchorage, Alaska.
Roddy managed to visit various key places, the first being Franklin’s furthest point west at Return Reef. It seemed likely that the reef had been washed away, so the helicopter landed on Stump Island nearby. Next on the agenda was Winter Lake by seaplane, to locate the site of Fort Enterprise. Roddy remarked in his memoir “The whole settlement had disappeared, almost without trace …. Even when sitting on the site of Fort Enterprise I found it impossible to reconstruct the Franklin party’s experiences realistically. Nothing fitted my preconceptions. Things as I’d thought they would be, had to be replaced by things as they were. I felt a distinct sense of loss.”
|Owen with the mast of the Mary|
I remember Roddy being particularly pleased to get the contract for The Fate of Franklin, because, as he explained to us at the time, “I can now write the book that I want to write” Roddy always acknowledged the help he received from the mystical “Unseen”. He used to tell us that when faced with a huge pile of papers, an unseen presence would guide him to the right folder. He believed this to be the spirit of his great-uncle Willingham Franklin Rawnsley (1845-1927), great nephew and Godson of Sir John, who wrote The Life, Diaries and Correspondence of Jane Lady Franklin (1923).
In spite of Willingham’s ghostly presence, Roddy’s methods of research were somewhat haphazard. His desire “not to pepper the text with little stars” led to the main criticism of his book, which was his total lack of sources, either as footnotes or a separate list. As for filing and maintaining research material afterwards, this was also hit & miss, as he explained in his memoirs:
“It had always been my habit to jettison the huge quantity of facts involved in writing any biography as quickly as possible; otherwise I might have gone mad”
Exactly how much was jettisoned is impossible to know.
After Roddy’s death I found letters from researchers amongst his papers enquiring about sources post publication, along with copies of Roddy’s replies, most of which supplied absolutely no information, albeit very politely! In spite of this, Roddy was always very accommodating towards Franklin researchers. A young Dave Woodman was given lunch & shown Roddy’s precious Staffordshire figures of Sir John & Jane Franklin, as well as being taken to the Royal Geographical Society Library.
I think Roddy was disappointed that there was no separate American edition of his book.
In a letter to author Sten Nadolny (The Discovery of Slowness, Viking Penguin 1987) in 1981, he wrote:
“The Fate of Franklin … did well but not very well. I wasn’t nearly as successful as Jane Franklin in enlisting American support”
Although he often claimed to have forgotten everything, Roddy’s interest in Franklin remained and he was pleased to be asked to give an address at the Naval Chapel, Greenwich, in 1986 to mark the bicentenary of Sir John Franklin’s birth.
Visiting Roddy at his house in London (Gilston Lodge) was always an experience. Meals were eaten in the kitchen, at a small table with huge winged chairs, all taken from a Victorian railway carriage, complete with brass lamps & polished brass luggage rack above. There was always a dog, the most recent one being a shih tzu called “Lovey” who had been notoriously difficult to house train but was adored nonetheless.
There was a very particular morning routine. After breakfast, Roddy would help the dog into the back of the car (never the boot!) and we would drive to Chiswick Park for a walk, the route being entirely decided by the dog. Whichever path he chose to go down, we would duly follow.
In the 1990’s Roddy started writing his autobiography, which ended up as three large volumes. His desire for truth, warts and all, laid bare his pursuit of love for both sexes. It was a life of joyous promiscuity until he met the love of his life in 1967, an Italian man named Gian Carlo Pasqualetto. Roddy preferred London to the countryside, though he did risk the occasional visit to my parents farm. It always amused us that someone who had been stranded in far flung places & coped with all manner of tricky situations was unwilling to subject his smart London car to a ½ mile driveway of potholes, brambles & cowpats. But that was all part of Uncle Roddy’s charm!
Gilston was always full of people. There was a lodger on the top floor for many years, a couple in the basement, and of course Gian Carlo. No-one in the family ever commented on their relationship and we were left to work it out for ourselves. When his three autobiographical volumes were printed privately, Roddy was most disappointed that we weren’t more shocked by his many revelations!
Roddy appointed two Literary Executors to administer his literary estate, with the express wish that his autobiography be published after his death. “I would be most unhappy to think that any parts of this long memoir should be cut on grounds of “decency”, for those bits are essential”
The length of the combined volumes meant that inevitably, some bits were cut, but two paperback volumes Travels of Delight and Tours of Delight edited by Nigel Hart were published by Langney Press in 2016. A more recent version which included more of the “essential” bits was edited by Emily Barrett of Little, Brown Book Group & published by Sphere in 2021 under the title Oh, What a Lovely Century.May we be Spared to Meet on Earth: Letters of the Lost Franklin Arctic Expedition required funding, I approached the nearest Literary Executor, my brother Charles. Both he and his co-executor agreed that Roddy would have been delighted to help out, so a cheque was duly handed over to me, with a bust of Sir John Franklin in the background looking on approvingly!
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Hurrah for the dredge, with its iron edge,And its mystical triangle.And its hided net with meshes setOdd fishes to entangle!
The Officers who were taking great interest in the collecting of specimens now became very active & during the whole day a range of them might be seen sitting in the main chains each with a net in hand dabbing away for Acalephæ. In this way my time has been fully occupied drawing and taking notes, night & day.
You will be glad to hear that Goodsir has collected very assiduously on the waters and from Depths, and that he has procured many things which are rare & some of them unknown. I must not however attempt to give you their unwriteable names, but trust to your learning what they are from Professor Forbes or some other of his Correspondents.
Monday, January 31, 2022
Q: "Why is Prince Albert’s kiss like this ship?"
A: "‘Cause its a hairy bus!"
Aside from the execrable homophony of the pun, it's curious that Fitzjames settled upon Prince Albert as its embodiment; in an age of famous whiskers, the Prince's were relatively moderate. Apparently, though, the jest hit home; in her copies of Fitzjames's correspondence with John Barrow Jr., Lady Franklin made her own copy of the cartoon!
His weakness for such puns is exemplified in many passages in his letters from HMS Erebus, mixed in with his jocular observations about others, as in this interchange with Osmer:
Osmar has just come from on deck (midnight) and is dancing with an imaginary skipping-rope. I said to him “What a happy chap you are Osmar you are always in a good humour.” His answer is, ‘Well, sir, if I am not happy here, I d’ont know where else I could be.” – This will show you that we are really like a man shaving: So-appy!
Of course, some of the best instances of Fitzjames's jovial spirit are already well known -- his verbal portraits of his fellow officers in the "bundle of yarns" he sent to his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Coningham. These, though all meant in a light-hearted way (and meant only for private eyes), did occasionally veer into more pointed observations, using language that was omitted from the printed versions. Collins, the Second Master, he described as
... the very essence of good nature, and I may say good humour - but he is mad, I am sure - for he squints to himself with a painful expression of countenance when he is thinking - (or thinking of nothing) and I can get no work out of him, though ever so willing he may be - yet he is not a bore nor a nuisance - but a nonentity.
He added, though, that "we intend however to make something of him." Edward Couch got a similar mix of caricature and praise; Fitzjames calls him
a little bullet-headed - blackhaired - smooth-faced lump of inanity - good humored however in his own way - writes, reads, works, draws - all quietly - is never in the way of anybody - and always ready when wanted.
But doubtless the best among these portraits is his description of James Reid, complete with an imitation of his particular brogue:
The most original character of all— rough, intelligent, unpolished, with a broad North Country accent, but not vulgar - good humored & honest hearted is Reid - a Greenland whaler - native of Aberdeen - who has commanded whaling vessels. & amuses us with his quaint remarks & descriptions of the ice - catching whales &c. - For instance - he just said to me, on my saying we should soon be off Cape Farewell at this rate, & asking if one might not generally expect a gale off it (Cape Farewell being the south Point of Greenland). “Ah! Now, Mister Gems, we’ll be having the weather fine Sir! Fine! - No ice at arl about it Sir, unless it be the bergs – arl the ice’ll be gone Sir only the bergs which I like to see. Let it come on to blow look out for a big’un. Get under his lee. and hold on to him fast Sir, fast. if he drifts – too near the land - why he grounds afore you do!” I think the idea of all the ice being gone except the icebergs, is rich beyond description.
Monday, January 10, 2022
|(National Library of Australia)|
My friend so rare, my girl so fair!With such, what mortal can be richer?Give me but these, a fig for care!With my sweet girl, my friend and pitcher.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
One aspect of the challenge of this collection has been that there were many more letters than we'd originally thought -- when we started, we knew of only around 150 letters, but in the end we found nearly 200-- 195 to be exact. They include every known letter written by Franklin and his men from aboard ship, as well as letters written about the expedition during its planning stages. In addition to these letters -- 173 of them -- we have twenty-two additional letters written by friends and family members of the lost men during the early years of the search, in which hope still held that they might someday be delivered.
To give context to these letters, we've also prepared a series of chronologies, showing each stage in the preparations, and all the stops along the route the ships took on their way to Greenland; these are accompanied by detailed maps showing each stage of the voyage. In a series of Appendices, we offer other documents from the voyage, including a scientific report by Harry Goodsir, Franklin's official dispatches to the Admiralty, and three letters whose authors are unknown, as their only extant versions are from their appearance in newspapers. The book is also illustrated with drawings and charts made on board, ranging from the dramatic naval sketches of Owen Stanley, the playful doodles of James Fitzjames, and an engraved plate of natural history specimens based on sketches made on board by Goodsir. To top it all off, Sir Michael Palin (Erebus:The Story of a Ship) has contributed a Foreword!
So far as we are aware, the majority of these letters have never appeared in print before; those few that were printed during the living memory of the expedition were often redacted to remove personal information (these parts have been restored). Some others have appeared in books about the expedition, or biographies of its key figures, but others were unknown until quite recently. Among these are the letters of James Reid, Ice-Master aboard Erebus, which turned up in the State Library of New South Wales (his family members emigrated to Australia); Henry Le Vesconte (much of his family settled in Newfoundland, in whose archives his letters ended up), and Harry Goodsir, whose correspondence has been preserved in the archives of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Family members and descendants have also provided scarce letters, and we've also been the beneficiary of the family archive maintained by one of our editors, Mary Williamson, who is Sir John's great-great-grand-niece.
UPDATE: Originally slated to be released on July 15th, the book will now be available in the first week of September (dates may vary slight by country and vendor). As the publication date grows closer, we hope also to share news of book-related events, podcasts, and other social media happenings related to its release. It's an exciting time -- we can't wait to share our discoveries -- and give everyone some hints about what's to come!
Monday, September 27, 2021
|Levinge's grave on Ascension|
The little Dolphin on that day occupied a berth better suited to a frigate, and was so much exposed that the Commodore, the present Sir Charles Hotham, declared in his public despatch that he sometimes trembled when he beheld the shower of shot, shell, grape, and rockets flying over her. The gallantry of Mr. Levinge was in consequence rewarded with a Commander’s commission dated 18 Nov. 1845.
H.M. ships 'Terror' and 'Erebus' were deserted on the 22nd April, 5 leagues N.N.W. of this, having been beset since 12th September, 1846. The officers and crews, consisting of 105 souls, under the command of Captain F.R.M. Crozier, landed here in lat. 69˚ 37' 42" N., long. 98˚ 41' W. Sir John Franklin died on the 11th June, 1847 ; and the total loss by deaths in the expedition has been to this date 9 officers and 15 men.