Dessert spoon

A relic of Sir John Franklin's last expedition 1845-8. A silver, fiddle-pattern, dessert spoon. Owned by Lt. Thomas Henry Dundas Le Vesconte, Lieutenant, HMS 'Erebus'. It was bought from the Inuit by the McClintock Search Expedition on 3 March 1859, near Cape Victoria, on the Boothia Peninsula.
The spoon has London hallmarks with the date code for 1837, and the maker's mark of John James Whiting - the initials 'JW'. 'H. Le Vesconte' is engraved in cursive script on the back of the handle. See F.L. McClintock 'The voyage of the Fox in the Arctic Seas' p. 369 'six silver spoons and forks, the property of Sir John Franklin, Lieutenants H.D. Vescomte and Fairholme, A. McDonald, Assistant-Surgeon, and Lieutenant E. Couch', p.370 'The spoons and forks were readily sold for a few needles each'.

Lieutenant Le Vesconte's father, Commander Henry Le Vesconte, RN, came from Jersey. He married Sarah Wills from Marldon in Devon and his son Henry Thomas Dundas was born nearby at Netherton in 1813. He entered the Navy in 1829 and served as mate of HMS 'Calliope' during the First China War. Distinguishing himself in this conflict, he was promoted to Lieutenant in June 1841. He went on to serve in HMS 'Hyacinth' on the East India Station and then in 'Clio' as second in command to James Fitzjames who recommended his appointment as lieutenant in HMS 'Erebus'. He perished with the other members of Sir John Franklin's 1845 expedition. A skeleton found by Charles Hall near the Peffer River and believed to be that of Le Vesconte, was returned to England and reburied in the Painted Hall at Greenwich.

Object Details

ID: AAA2474
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Dessert spoon
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Whiting, John James
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, McClintock, 1857-1859
Vessels: Erebus (1826); Fox (1855)
Date made: 1837
People: Le Vesconte, Thomas Henry Dundas
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: Overall: 18 x 181 x 38 mm

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