Richard Franck


ranck is another author of whom little is known. He was born in Cambridge, during the reign of James VI, perhaps in 1624. He had little education, as the threat of Civil War drove him from university. During the war he served in Parliament's cavalry, reaching the rank of Captain.

He toured in Scotland, probably in 1656 or 1657, writing his book Northern Memoirs, in 1658, although it was not published until much later. Unlike the majority of his countrymen, Franck had travelled far abroad, and the title page of two of his books tell us that they were written in America. This may account for the fact that although Northern Memoirs was written in 1658, it was not to be published for another thirty-six years. Cromwell died in 1658, and Franck may well have deemed it wise to leave for America shortly afterwards. In 1660, the monarchy was restored, and while this must have pleased Walton and Cotton, it would have been bad news for Franck, as many old scores were to be settled settled over the next decade. The verbose old roundhead was back in England by 1687, when his first book was published . Strange though it is to think of it, Franck may have been the first man to fly fish in the New World.

The full title of his book is worth repeating here:

Northern Memoirs
Calculated for the
Meridian of Scotland

Wherein most of the Cities, Citadels,
Sea-ports, Castles, Forts, Fortresses,
Rivers, and Rivulets, are compendiously

Together with choice Collections of various Discoveries,
Remarkable Observations, Theological
Notions, Political Axioms, National Intrigues,
Polemick Inferences, Contemplations, Speculations,
and several curious and industrious Inspections,
lineally drawn from Antiquaries, and
other noted and intelligible Persons of Honour
and Eminency

To which is added

The Contemplative and Practical Angler
By way of a diversion. With a Narrative of that dextrous
and mysterious Art experimented in England, and perfected
in more remote and solitary Parts of Scotland.
By way of Dialogue.

They don't make 'em like that any more.

Franck was a salmon fisherman, and he was one of the first authors who wrote from extensive personal experience of how to take a salmon with a fly. His book tells of an expedition to Scotland that was no trivial exercise; in the seventeenth century, it took two and a half days to get from London to Birmingham, on tracks that barely deserved to be called roads.


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