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The song recounts the story of a sailor who dreams about Lady Franklin speaking of the loss of her husband, Lord John Franklin, who disappeared in Baffin Bay during his 1845 expedition through the Arctic Ocean in search of the Northwest Passage sea route to the Pacific ocean. The song first appeared as a broadside ballad around 1850 and has since been recorded with the melody of the Irish traditional air "Cailín Óg a Stór" (O Darling Young Girl) by numerous artists.

Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin KCH FRGS RN (16 April 1786 – 11 June 1847) was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer of the Arctic. Franklin disappeared on his last expedition, attempting to chart and navigate a section of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. The icebound ships were abandoned and the entire crew perished from starvation, hypothermia, tuberculosis, lead poisoning and scurvy. One of the ships was rediscovered in 2014.
We follow the version by Pentangle. The tune is similar to The Croppy Boy, but not identical.

    Lord Franklin

    by trad
    We were homeward [D] bound one night [G] on the deep [G] [Bm7]
    [Em] Swinging in my hammock I [A7] fell asleep
    [D] I dreamed a dream and I [G] thought it [D] true
    [Em] Concerning [A7] Franklin and his [G] gallant [D] crew.

    With 100 seamen he sailed away
    To the frozen ocean in the month of May
    To seek a passage around the pole
    Where we poor sailors do sometimes go.

    Through cruel hardships they vainly strove
    Their ships on mountains of ice was drove
    Only the Eskimo with his skin canoe
    Was the only one that ever came through

    In Baffin's Bay where the whale fish blow
    The fate of Franklin no man may know
    The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
    Lord Franklin among his seamen do dwell

    And now my burden it gives me pain
    For my Lord Franklin I'd sail the main
    Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
    To know Lord Franklin, and where he lives.