Our project archivist discovered a letter in our Franklin Collection which he realised must have been one of the last ones Sir John Franklin ever wrote. It is dated 6 July 1845 and was written on Whale Fish Island:
Franklin and his expedition were last seen by Europeans only a few weeks later, on 26 July, after which they were never heard of again. The touching letter is to his daughter, Eleanor, and he urges her and her Mama [Lady Franklin] not to be anxious if he does not return within 3 years, as they have stores and provisions enough to last that long.
We asked our Twitter friends on @FranklinArchive whether they knew of a later letter, and yes, around the same time Franklin wrote a lengthy letter to his wife, Lady Jane, the final part of which is dated 12 July. That letter is not part of our collection, but perhaps one day the two can be reunited, as they presumably traveled to England together.
Franklin’s last letter to Eleanor is currently on display in our latest exhibition ‘Franklin’s People’, why not pop in and see it for yourself!