A Blupete Biography Page


Michael Francklin [Portraits of Mr. & Mrs Francklin]
(1733-82).

Born at Poole, England, Michael Francklin, in the summer of 1752, booked passage on the Norfolk and came to Halifax to seek his fortune. With the backing of Joshua Mauger, Francklin opened a dram shop on George St. Later on he was to open up a second establishment. In 1754, while out hunting with a few of his friends, Francklin was to have a run-in with a bunch of Micmac Indians; he was captured and taken off to the Gaspe. Though at first this seem to be a most unfortunate event to befall our twenty-one year old hero, the event, however, proved to be the making of the man. During his three months of captivity he was to learn the way of the Indian.

When finally Francklin was released, he returned to Halifax. At Halifax he was able to put his experiences to great use; and, his career as a trading merchant unfolded. He had a great advantage over others in that he could communicate with the Micmac and he was able to earn their trust; undoubtedly the best furs fell to him. Also, I should mention, by the way, that, apparently, he could speak French; and thus, he was able to get along with the Acadians. (In later years, when he was the Lieutenant Governor, Francklin was instrumental in the Acadian resettlement.)

Halifax in these years (1754-1763) was to be an extremely busy placed with army and naval movements continually coming in an out of the place, this, due to The Seven Years War. In any event, this war was to make Francklin "an exceedingly wealthy man."

In 1759 (just a year after its first formation) Francklin was to be elected to the House as a member for Lunenburg. In 1761-62, he was the elected member for Halifax County.1

The year 1762 was a very significant year for Francklin. He married (February 7th) Susannah Boutineau at Boston. (From that union, incidently, came at least four children.) In May of that year, Francklin was appointed to Council. A number of people opposed this appointment, including Belcher and Morris, who, the DCB suggests, were trying to clean up "bad trade practices."

Through the influence of Joshua Mauger, on August 23rd, 1766, Francklin was sworn in as Lieutenant-governor. At this point in time, there was also to be a governor, who in 1766 was to be Lord William Campbell; however, before Campbell arrived, and during his numerous absences during his governorship, Francklin was left pretty much in charge at Nova Scotia throughout this period (1766-72).2

We learn from the DCB that "by the early 1770s his political opponents were becoming increasingly shrill." Though the charges were "that he was reaping fantastic monetary rewards ... the fact of the matter, is, with The Seven Years War now behind him and the seriousness of The American Revolution yet to take hold of the British mind, "Francklin suffered acute shortages of cash." As a contemporaneous report will show, Francklin went "from being an opulent Merchant to a person in distress." Thus, it was, that at about this time, Francklin hit upon an immigration scheme and was responsible for bringing over 1,000 people, mostly from Yorkshire to settle on his lands in Cumberland county.3

During the Revolution Francklin remained loyal to the crown. As Akins was to write: "His exertions in support of British authority while administering the Government was greatly instrumental in preserving the tranquillity of Nova Scotia during the period of the American revolt."4

To conclude: It can be observed that Michael Francklin had both his supporters and his detractors. One historian, Brebner, saw him as a puppet under the control of Joshua Mauger; a sentiment that was picked up from a reading of the charges continually being made by Francklin's commercial competitors. Had the ordinary man been asked, the great response might well have been that Francklin, though obviously not a democrat, took care in his dealings with people and knew that to serve their welfare was to serve his own. Clearly the natives of Nova Scotia always got on with him and they were to pay their unique tribute to him upon his death. On November 11, 1782 a funeral service was conducted for the Honourable Michael Francklin; and while undoubtedly the rich and famous were there to console themselves, there was a very telling trail of 200 Indians that followed along in the funeral procession, chanting the death song of the Micmacs as was dictated by tradition to be always sung for a deceased chieftain.5

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] Haliburton, vol. 1, p. 317.

[2] NSHR, Vol. 13, No. 2.

[3] For further on the Yorkshire Immigration, see the chapter in my history, "The Early Settlement of the Chignecto Townships."

[4] Selections From The Public Documents, fn at pp. 352-3.

[5] Quinpool, p. 106. If the reader wishes to enlarge his knowledge of Michael Francklin then I might refer him or her to two works: the one by James S. Macdonald, "Lt. Governor Michael Francklin, 1752-1782" (40 pp.) found in vol. 16 (1912) of the Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society; and the other, by W. B. Kerr, "The Rise of Michael Francklin" (7 pp.) as found in The Dalhousie Review, Vol. 13 (1934), No. 4.

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Peter Landry
(2012)