MCCLINTOCK, FRANCIS L. (1819-1907). Irish Arctic explorer who confirmed the fate of Sir John Franklin. ALS. (“F. L. McClintock”). 1p. 8vo. Walmer, August 21, 1878. To W.H. Ince in London.
“I regret that it is not in my power to send you any letters from Arctic officers, as the very few I possess, being relics of valued friends now no more, are too precious to be parted with. Believe me to remain faithfully yours…”
A “gentleman volunteer” in the Royal Navy, McClintock accompanied James Clark Ross to the Canadian Arctic during his 1848 search for Sir John Franklin who, with his 128-man crew, was last sighted at Lancaster Sound near Baffin Island in July 1845. McClintock returned to the Arctic in 1852, to chart the previously unknown coastline. Because of his extensive Arctic experience, Franklin’s indefatigable widow, Lady Jane Franklin, asked McClintock to command an expedition in 1857 to search for Franklin and his men near Repulse Bay, where several years earlier Scottish explorer John Rae had heard Inuit tales of cannibalism amongst Franklin’s crew. Rae’s report to the Admiralty had been leaked, angering Lady Jane and the public, which had come to regard Franklin as a hero. During McClintock’s 1857-1859 voyage, he discovered relics from Franklin’s ill-fated voyage including a written record from a member of his crew noting Franklin’s death on June 11, 1847, suggesting that he had likely not participated in any cannibalism.