Author Topic: Add: Lord Franklin


Posted - 17 Nov 02 - 12:59 pm

Lord Franklin

It was homeward bound one night on the deep
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew

With a hundred seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek that passage around the pole
Where we poor sailors do sometimes go

Through cruel hardship his men did go
His ship on mountains of ice was drove
Where the Eskimo in his skin canoe
Was the only one who ever came through

In Baffin Bay where the Whale fish blow
The fate of Franklin no man may know
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
Lord Franklin along with his sailors do dwell

And now my burden it gives me pain
For my long lost Franklin I'd cross the main
Ten thousand pounds would I freely give
To know on earth that my Franklin do live

Source: Kennedy, D (1987) Martin Carthy: A Guitar in Folk Music. Petersham, New Punchbowl Music


From the Notes to The Carthy Chronicles (Free Reed Records, 2001):

A big ballad with a dateable background, Lord Franklin tells the story of a failed attempt to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. Sir John Franklin set sail on May 19 and reached Greenland safely. Trouble came with the arctic winter. For 10 months, his two ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror remained locked in the ice and three of the crew died. The next summer was short, and the crew made only another 350 miles before becoming ice-bound again. In 1848, spring failed to arrive. Sledding parties were sent out but did not return and eventually the crew of 105 survivors set off for the Great Slave Lake some 900 miles away. None survived, and before all were dead, they had resorted to cannibalism. Recent discoveries have revealed that they may have been early victims of modern food packaging. Franklin?s expedition was the first to rely on tinned food and it appears their supplies were shoddily manufactured and sealed. Add to that the fact that their fuel supplies ran low and, economising, the crew may have eaten food that was inadequately cooked. The 150-year-old mystery which this song commemorates has thus been rationalised.

No information as to when this was collected, but A. L. Lloyd collected a similar version which may be Carthy's source.

For more information on the Franklin Expedition see The Fate of Franklin

Database entry is here

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 17 Nov 02 - 06:29 pm

Roud 487 Laws K9.

Found reasonably widely (particularly in Canada, it seems), often as Lady Franklin's Lament. A couple of broadside editions can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

Lady Franklin's lament for her husband Printer and date unknown. 2806 c.13(212).

Lady Franklin's lament for her husband Printed 18- by J. Scott, Pittenweem; Sold by J. Wood, 49 North Richmond Street, Edinburgh. Printer's Series:(227). Firth c.12(83).

There is another Lady Franklin's lament, printed by J. Wilson of Bideford [Firth c.12(81)], which is an unrelated piece on the same subject. There is also a (presumably, later) broadside, made after the remains of the expedition were found:

A lament on the fate of sir J. Franklin and his crews Printer and date unknown. Firth c.12(438).

The Bodleian has several editions from different printers.

It does seem likely that Carthy's set came from Bert Lloyd. Bob Dylan learned the tune from Martin, and used it for his song Bob Dylan's...Dream. It appeared, I think, on Dylan's very first album; Martin was credited in the sleevenotes.

Edited By Malcolm Douglas - 11/17/2002 6:56:10 PM


Posted - 17 Nov 02 - 07:47 pm

Thanks Malcolm,

I searched at the Bodleian Site for Franklin and Franklin's but came up blank.

Any search tips?

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 17 Nov 02 - 08:08 pm

As a rule, the Browse feature works better than the Search, but you need to know what you're looking for; in this case, Lady rather than Lord Franklin.

I must confess that I missed the last one first time round. Nutty mentioned it in a Mudcat discussion some time ago.

Guest Account
Posted - 06 Jul 04 - 03:47 am

From: Fred Johnston

Interested to read this. I have what I have worked out is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, version of Lady Jane Franklin's Lament, and I found it on a vinyl of sea-songs; it is recorded on my album, GET YOU. It's quite long and contains no real information about the expedition, save to say it is lost - I wrote a play on Franklin's voyage subsequently, which was performed in Galway, Ireland. Franklin was dead before the doomed trek across the ice, led by William Crozier of Banbridge, Co Down, Ireland, took place. Franklin died of heart failure. Fred Johnston (

Guest Account
Posted - 06 Jul 04 - 03:59 am

From: Fred Johnston

While homeward bound one night on the deep
Slung in my hammock, fast asleep
I had a dream which I thought true
Concerning Franklin and his bold crew -

'Twas as we neared the English shore
I heard a lady sadly deplore
She wept aloud and seemed to say
"Alas my Franklin, he's so long away -

"It's seven years since that ship of fame
First bore my husband across the main
With hearts undaunted and courage stout
To seek a North-west passage out -

"To seek a passage 'round the Pole
With a hundred seamen brave and bold.
With hearts undaunted and courage true
It's what no man on earth may do.

"There's Captain Osborne of Scarb'rough Town
Brave Perry and Winslow of high renown
There's Captain Ross, and many more
In vain they cruised round the Arctic Shore -

They sail├?┬ęd East and they sail├?┬ęd West
Off Greenland's coast where they thought the best
Mid hardships and dangers they vainly strove
On mountains of ice their ships was hove.

"In Baffin's Bay where the whale-fish blow
The fate of Franklin no man may know
Ten thousand pounds would I freely gave
To say on earth my husband still do live.

"And bring him back to the land of life
Where once again I could be his wife
I'd give all the wealth that I e'er shall have
But I fear, alas, he has found a grave,

"A voice within that I can't control
Is assurance to me of his peace of soul
Oh Arctic seas, what you have seal'd
On Judgement Day, will be revealed".

{Lady Jane Franklin's Lament - FRED JOHNSTON)


Posted - 06 Jul 04 - 05:13 pm

Just to put the record straight, I believe enough evidence of the expedition has now been found to indicate that Franklin did, ironically, discover the Northwest Passage (though he might not have known it).


Guest Account
Posted - 07 Jul 04 - 03:36 am

From: Fred Johnston

Re: Comment by IanC: it is possible. On Crozier's Monument in Banbridge, Co. Down, Crozier is credited with having found the Passage, though I have my doubts on that score. There is also conjecture that Crozier and some others survived to be shown the way down Back's Fish River, with Inuit help; rumours of sightings of strange-looking men living and hunting near there persisted for some years. - FRED JOHNSTON

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z