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- This is a folk ballad of British origin about Lord Franklin's 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Neither Lord Franklin nor any of the voyagers returned to England. Some assert the ballad was written by Jane Griffin (Lady Franklin) but this appears apocryphal. Lady Franklin was apparently devoted to Lord Franklin and sponsored four expeditions to attempt to find out the fate of Franklin.
The ballad is known under several other names, most notably "Lord Franklin" and is collected as Roud 487 in the Roud Folk Song Index.
The melody, which predates the ballad, was also used by Bob Dylan for Bob Dylan's Dream.
The publishing date is for the song in a broadside version, which may actually have been anywhere between 1850 and 1855.