FRANKLIN, Jane, Lady (1792-1875)


FRANKLIN, Jane, Lady (1792-1875)
second wife of Sir John Franklin (q.v.)
was the second daughter of John Griffin. a liveryman and later a governor of the Goldsmith's Company, and his wife Jane Guillemard. There was Huguenot blood on both sides of her family. She was born in 1792, was well educated, and her father being well-to-do had her education completed by much travel on the continent. Her portrait painted when she was 24 by Miss Romilly at Geneva shows her to have been a pretty girl with charm and vivacity. She had been a friend of (Sir) John Franklin's first wife who died early in 1825, and in 1828 became engaged to him. They were married on 5 November and in 1829 he was knighted. During the next three years she was much parted from her husband who was on service in the Mediterranean. In 1836 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Tasmania where they arrived on 6 January 1837.
Lady Franklin at once began to take an interest in the colony and did a good deal of exploring along the southern and western coast. In April 1839 she visited the new settlement at Melbourne, where she received an address signed by 65 of the leading citizens which referred to her "character for kindness, benevolence and charity". With her husband she encouraged the founding of secondary schools for both boys and girls. In 1841 she visited South Australia and persuaded the governor, Colonel Gawler (q.v.), to set aside some ground overlooking Spencer Gulf for a monument to Flinders (q.v.). This was set up later in the year. She had much correspondence with Elizabeth Fry about the female convicts, and did what she could to ameliorate their lot. She was accused of using undue influence with her husband in his official acts but there is no evidence of this. No doubt he was glad to have her help in solving his problems, and probably they collaborated in the founding of the scientific society which afterwards developed into the Royal Society of Tasmania. When Franklin was recalled at the end of 1843 they went first to Melbourne and then to England by way of New Zealand. Franklin started on his last voyage in May 1845, and when it was realized that he must have come to disaster Lady Franklin devoted herself for many years to trying to ascertain his fate. By 1860 all had been done that could be done, and for the remainder of her life Lady Franklin divided her time between living in England and travelling in all quarters of the world. She died in London on 18 July 1875.
Lady Franklin was a woman of unusual character and personality. One of the earliest women in Tasmania who had had the full benefit of education and cultural surroundings, she was both an example and a force, and set a new standard in ways of living to the more prosperous settlers who were now past the stage of merely struggling for a living. Her determined efforts, in connexion with which she spent a great deal of her own money to discover the fate of her husband, incidentally added much to the world's knowledge of the arctic regions.
W. F. Rawnsley, The Life, Diaries and Correspondence of Jane Lady Franklin; H. D. Traill, The Life of Sir John Franklin, R.N.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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