Thursday, 25 July 2013

Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Captain James Fitzjames, RN

This coming Saturday, 27th July, 2013, will mark the 200th birthday of Captain James, Fitzjames, RN, who was lost on the Franklin Expedition.  I felt this anniversary ought to be marked.
Yesterday a small group of Captain Fitzjames’ family, members of the families of other men lost on the Franklin Expedition and some well-wishers gathered at the memorial to the Franklin Expedition at Waterloo Place in London SW1.  Here we joined by Mr. Gordon Campbell, Canada's High Commissioner, who had very kindly agreed to take time out from his schedule to lay wreath in memory of Captain Fitzjames.  So for the first time in many, many years, in fact probably for the first time since the nineteenth century, James Fitzjames’ birth was marked with due celebration. 

The weather was beautiful and in this picture you can see Mr. Campbell, the Canadian High Commissioner, making his witty and well-received speech, before laying the wreath.

The second photograph is a remarkable one as it shows the Canadian High Commissioner, having laid the wreath, flanked by the next of kin of the two sides of Captain James Fitzjames's family, On the left (his right) stands Anne Coningham and on the right (his left) Sylvia Wright (nee McClintock).

Finally, it was my great privilege to thank Mr Campbell, the Canadian High Commissioner, and present him with a copy of the biography of Captain James Fitzjames.

Never let anyone underestimate the true hospitality of Canada!  The High Commissioner then invited us to the High Commission to see their Exhibition of Inuit Art (STRONGLY recommended) where drinks were laid on for the thirsty celebrants.  I felt profoundly moved that the remarkable figure of James Fitzjames has been commemorated in this way.


  1. Dear William,
    How nice to see that the Franklin Expedition still lives on in succeeding generations and celebrations to honour Captain Fitzjames. One day before long, I`m convinced the remains of Erebus and Terror will be found. Keep up the good work!

  2. Great post William! I wish I could have been there.

    It's great to see Gordon Campbell out sharing Canadian hospitality and participating in events such as this- around here, he is still regarded as quite the scoundrel (his mug shot still graces the walls of the pub just down the street). Here's hoping he took a cab or the tube home after those celebratory drinks! I'm sure he will enjoy your biography on Fitzjames as much as I did. If only we could get the Canadian government to pony up some additional resources for the search for Terror and Erebus, which should be resuming again shortly... cheers!

  3. Splendid! Such a fitting tribute on a gorgeous day! All the officers of the E & T should be honored in this fashion.