John Barrow Junior, the quiet hero of the search for Franklin

The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin, by Stephen Pearce, oil on canvas,
1851, 46 1/4 in. x 72 1/8 in. (1175 mm x 1833 mm). Bequeathed by one of the sitters, John Barrow, 1899, Primary Collection, NPG 120
(John Barrow Junior is standing fifth from left, between James Clark Ross and Edward Sabine.)

He was “the father confessor for so many officers in Arctic service”, the person they poured their hearts out to in confidential letters before, during and after their expeditions in search of the Franklin Expedition.

He was the man who protected their interests and checked in on their families while the searchers were risking their lives in the Arctic, acts of kindness that were never forgotten.

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“The ghastly truth dawned upon me that it was three graves that I at last stood beside”

One of the most annoying things in my life as a Robert Anstruther Goodsir researcher is the man’s infuriating reluctance to put his real name on many of the articles he wrote. But he’s out there if you know where and how to look.

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Found: Beechey Island relics in historic photograph

Logan followed a lead all the way to London, and made a fantastic breakthrough:

The fingerpost found on Beechey Island was definitely at the former Royal United Services Museum for maybe two-thirds of the 20th Century. Logan thought he could see it in the photograph above, but how to prove it? Well, it involved a lot of hard work in the RUSI Library, which he detailed in a long post for the Remembering the Franklin Expedition history club over on Facebook.

The clincher jumped out at him, magic-eye style, after weeks of studying the photo. That’s the Beechey Island anvil, right next to the post.

Lost Arctic heroes located in Kensal Green Cemetery

Photo: Alison Freebairn Editing: Logan Zachary

Picture a Victorian graveyard, and you’re probably picturing something like this. It’s ornate, melodramatic, well-manicured, and photogenic. Large swathes of Kensal Green Cemetery are like this. But important parts of it aren’t.

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Beechey Papers rediscovered in The National Archives

A fragment of paper picked up at Beechey Island in 1850.
A Beechey Papers fragment with “Mr M’Donald” written on it in pencil. Image courtesy of Logan Zachary at For full resolution photographs of the papers, please see:

At 10am on Thursday 15 August 2019, I walked into The National Archives in Kew, London, to look for some missing journals. I didn’t find them. What I did find was the Beechey Papers, a collection of Franklin relics that were assumed to be lost.

I was astonished to find scraps of journals, newspapers and other fragments of printed and hand-written materials that were clearly marked as having been picked up where the crews of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror had spent the winter of 1845-1846.

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