Born in London in 1791, Jane Griffin was well-educated for her time. As a young lady, she was strongly attracted to Dr. Peter Mark Roget of Thesaurus fame, but while, she claimed Roget made her swoon, the attraction was apparently not mutual.
Three years after her friend Eleanor Anne Franklin died, Jane was engaged to her widower, Sir John Franklin. When he was appointed lieutenant governor of Tasmania in 1836, they moved to Australia.
Jane was quite interested in her new surroundings and began exploring, becoming the first European woman to travel overland between Port Phillip and Sydney. Later she was the first European woman to travel overland from Hobart to Macquarie Harbor.
Interested in education, Jane also sought to improve the lives of female convicts, provoking accusations that she unduly influenced her husband’s decisions although there was no proof of such influence.
She is best remembered for her unceasing efforts to find Sir John when the ship he was on disappeared in the Arctic in 1845. She sponsored seven expeditions in search of him or his records, refusing to believe facts presented to her regarding his death. These expeditions did, however, add to the world’s knowledge of the Arctic. The ballad, Lady Franklin’s Lament, tells the story of her unswerving belief that Sir John was alive.
Meanwhile, she spent much of her time traveling extensively around the world with her husband’s niece who served as her secretary.