Jane Franklin (1791-1875), was born on December 4, 1791, the daughter of John Griffin, a wealthy silk weaver, of London, and Mary, née Guillemard. In 1828, she married (as his second wife) John Franklin, an explorer trying to map out the Northwest Passage.
On April 29, 1829, John was knighted by George IV and the same year awarded the first Gold Medal of the Société de Géographie of France. Franklin was governor of Tasmania for a while before heading out on his next Canadian Arctic expedition. (Franklin had spent three winters in the Arctic without sending word back home; Jane began to get worried.)
In 1848 the search for Franklin and his crew began. In 1849 Jane’s panic began and she dedicated her life and resources to trying to find her missing husband and his crew. Later a journal was found that said that Franklin had died on June 11th, 1847.
While monitoring her husband’s rescue trips and waiting for news she became well-acquainted with the Hawai‘i royal family. En route to the Sandwich Islands Lady Jane and Sophia Cracroft, her niece, went around South America and stopped in California.
In 1861, Robert Crichton Wyllie, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hosted a visit by Lady Jane Franklin, a lively, energetic 69 year old who delighted the 63 year old Wyllie.
He housed her in a spacious apartment at Rosebank. It appears that the confirmed bachelor was rather smitten with Lady Jane. Wyllie was taken with the idea that she should visit Princeville and she quickly agreed.
“We passed here twelve delightful days of unbroken repose, free from bustle, interruption, and fatigue – pray don’t imagine that this means in indolence …”
“… the very reverse is the fact – we read, wrote, drew, sewed, while drinking in the perfume of the flowers such as are cherished in conservatories at home, revelling in beauty which could never satiate, because ever changing.” (Miss Sophia Cracroft, 1861; Harrington)
Wyllie arranged for the ladies to be presented to King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. The friendship that developed was very beneficial for Lady Jane, who had open access to the palace. (Kauai Historical Society)
They discussed a wide range of topics. Lady Jane and her niece were very involved with social events of the community, attending musicals, teas, receptions, excursions into the country side and dances.
Next, Lady Jane went to California for a brief time then returned to Hawai‘i to visit the royal family when en route to Japan. Again she was the guest of Robert Wyllie at Rosebank. From Hawai‘i she proceeded to Calcutta before making her way home to England.
Although Lady Jane never returned to Hawai‘I, she maintained close contact with Queen Emma and Robert Wyllie through correspondence. In 1864 Lady Jane wintered in Spain but hurried back to England to host a visit from Queen Emma. (Kauai Historical Society)
To win support for an Anglican mission to Hawai‘i, where Lady Jane was concerned that British should replace American influence, she acted as hostess in her London home to Queen Emma. (Woodward)
“(S)he was received with great kindness by the ‘royal family,’ and is now repaying it by having ‘the Queen’ and her retinue to live with her; though our Queen has placed her apartments at Clarges’ Hotel at the Sandwich Island Queen’s disposition.”
“(Queen Emma) is a charming young woman, in spite of the tinge of black – or rather green. Large black, beautiful eyes, a lovely smile, great intelligence, both of face and manner, a musical, true voice, a perfect English accent.” (Jane W Carlyle to Welch)
“The queen is the widow of the late King of the Sandwich Islands, Kamehameha IV., to whom she was married in 1856. Her only child died in the year 1862; and the throne is now filled by her husband’s brother, with the title of Kamehameha V.”
“The Queen Dowager Emma is partly of Hawaiian and partly of European race; her father was one of the native chieftains, and her mother was a granddaughter of John Young, one of the companions of Vancouver.”
“She has come to England on a visit to Lady Franklin, for the purpose of interesting the friends of English Church missions in the welfare of the Christians among her own people, which ought to be no matter of surprise, when it is known that her husband was the Hawaiian king who invited the planting in his dominions of a branch of the English Church …”
“… the king, who himself translated the English Prayer-book into the native language, and wrote the preface to it, which the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge have published as one of their own tracts.”
“It must not be imagined that, though Queen Emma has come to England on a visit to Lady Franklin, that she is confined alone to the residence of that distinguished lady.”
“She has also been the guest of Mr JF Batemen, of Moor Park, near Farnham, Surrey. The spot is not only one of romantic beauty, but the house itself was formerly the residence of Sir William Temple and Dean Swift.”
“While staying with Lady Franklin, Queen Emma visited the Duke of York‘s Military School at Chelsea. During her visit to Mr. Buteman, she visited all the interesting places round Farnham, including Aldershott Camp”.
“At the time that she was on a visit to the Rev. Mr. Keble, at Hursley, in Hampshir she went to see Winchester, when the bells of the ol cathedral rang peals of welcome during her stay, and on her way through the Close to Archdeacon Utterton’s, she was greeted with a succession of cheers.” (London Journal, September 30, 1865)
On September 9th, Queen Emma and Queen Victoria met. The British Queen noted in her Journal: “After luncheon I received Queen Emma, the widowed Queen of the Sandwich Islands of Hawai‘i. Met her in the Corridor & nothing could be nicer or more dignified than her manner.”
“She was dressed in just the same widow’s weeds as I wear. I took her into the White Drawingroom, where I asked her to sit down next to me on the sofa. She was much moved when I spoke of her great misfortune in losing her husband and only child.”
“She was very discreet and would only remain a few minutes. She presented her lady, [Mrs. Hoapili] whose husband is her Chaplain, both being Hawaiians.” (Queen Victoria; Hackler)
Note, at this time, the three women were widows: Lady Jane Franklin learned of her husband’s death in 1854; Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria died December 14, 1861; and Prince Albert, Kamehameha Iv and Emma’s only son died August 27, 1862 and Kamehameha IV died November 30, 1863.