Richard King to Earl Grey [Regarding the Franklin Search] (1855)

To the Right Hon. Earl Grey.

17, Savile Row, 25th November, 1847.

The last ray of hope has passed when Sir John Franklin by his own exertions can save himself and his one hundred and thirty-seven followers from the death of starvation. I trust, therefore, your Lordship will excuse my calling your attention to my letter of the 10th of June last, which is acknowledged, but remains unanswered. I should not have intruded myself again on your Lordship’s notice were I able to believe that your Lordship is fully sensible of the heavy responsibility which the calamity has placed upon you. The Admiralty Board may send assistance by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – they may set in motion every mariner who has assisted in ploughing the northern seas, - yet it will not relieve you from responsibility as the principal Secretary of State for the Colonies. The service which I have proposed, as a matter of precedent, should emanate from the Colonial Board. It was from that Board that assistance was despatched in search of Sir John Ross ; and from that Board the Polar Land Journeys, so fruitful in result, were one and all set on foot.

I have already called your Lordship’s attention to the evidence which Sir Edward Parry, on his retirement from active service, has laid before the Admiralty, in confirmation of his opinion that the most serious consequences to his crew would be the result of passing a third winter in the Polar regions, - and a third winter, it is now too evident, the lost expedition must pass in the inclement North. In order, however, to save our fellow creatures from all the horrors of starvation and its awful consequences, I have offered to your Lordship to undertake the boldest journey which has ever been proposed, - and one which is justifiable only from the circumstances.


Your Lordship, as Lord Howick, gave the Expedition in search of Sir John Ross your valuable assistance, and if you will but give the same encouraging assistance to the effort in search of Sir John Franklin, and fill up the blank which the Board of Admiralty have left, the country will have reason to be satisfied that all that could be done was done for the safety of the one hundred and thirty-eight gallant men, who nobly volunteered their services in spite of the danger and difficulties they were certain to meet with, merely because they were asked to do so.

I have, &c.


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About this document ...

  • Written by: Richard King
  • Published in: The Franklin Expedition From First to Last
  • Published by: John Churchill
  • Place: London
  • Date: 1855
  • Page(s): 1-4
  • Notes: Part of a letter from Richard King King to Earl Grey, dated 25 November 1847, asking that a search for Franklin’s party be initiated
Sunken ship