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The Berkner Family is a prominent British-Antarctic family, members of which have been involved in politics, exploration, the Military, and many other fields.
In the mid-19th Century, the Berkners were an insignificant family of upper-middle class landowners in Lincolnshire; but the unexpected marriage of Arthur Berkner, the family's eldest son, to an aristocratic heiress brought them into a wealthier circle. In 1859, Arthur's younger brother James was able to fund an expedition to the Antarctic, during which he discovered Berkner Bay, which was named for the family.
James later returned to the Bay, established a small colony, and became its Governor; which made the Berkner family the most powerful authority in the region. In early 1870, James left the colony and returned to England, leaving his nephew Francis in command.
In England, James became a socialite, and gradually squandered his money away. In 1883, he used the last of his wealth to fund a trip to the United States, to see the "Wild West". There are several rumours about what happened to him on this trip, but he almost certainly died, probably by suicide.
Meanwhile, Francis Berkner was overseeing the small Berkner Bay colony. Tensions were growing between British settlers and the nearby Russians; which were exacerbated by Chilean and Argentine colonists arriving in the 1880s (though they had been there in smaller numbers since the 1860s). For a long period, there were many skirmishes between the colonies (known as the Berkner Land War); which culminated with the foundation of the Republic of Santiago by the Chilean and Argentine settlers.
Francis relinquished his family's control over the area, and relocated with most of the other British settlers to the nearby colony of New Devon, where he remained an influential figure. Following Francis' death, the Berkner Family effectively lost much of its influence; and some of the family moved to the comparatively "big city" of Cookstown. Others went to Australia, or to India, or to Africa. Still others returned to Lincolnshire, where their extended family were still prospering.
The Berkners in Cookstown were the only "branch" of the family to remain influential. Many Cookstown Berkners have continued to be prominent in local and national politics, as well as business, the military and law. Charles Berkner, Francis' great-grandson, served as Prime Minister of Eduarda from 1990 to 2002.
List of famous members
- Arthur Berkner (1825-1902) — Began the family's fortune by marrying into the aristocracy.
- James Berkner (1830-c.1883) — Arthur's younger brother. Embarked on two expeditions to the Antarctic and founded the Berkner Bay Colony.
- Francis Berkner (1849-1913) — Arthur's son. Governor of the Berkner Bay Colony from 1870-1901.
- John Berkner (1875-1956) — Francis' son. Commander of the Commonwealth Forces in Antarctica from 1919-1924.
- Charles Berkner (1943- ) — John's grandson. Prime Minister of Eduarda from 1990-2002.