William Robert Broughton

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William Robert Broughton

William Robert Broughton (* 1762 in Gloucestershire , England , † March 14, 1821 in Florence ) was a British naval officer. He commanded HMS Chatham as part of George Vancouver's expedition on the west coast of North America in the early 1790s.


Broughton entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1774 and participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 from the sea . Soon after, he was captured by the Americans, but was released in December 1776 and served in the waters of the North American east coast until 1778. After several years of service in and around India Broughton received 1790 command of the brig HMS Chatham , the HMS Discovery of George Vancouver accompanied on his expedition to the Pacific.

On November 23, 1791, the crew of the HMS Chatham sighted the Snare Islands . The HMS Discovery under Vancouver did this independently . Six days later, the Chatham Islands named after the ship were discovered. In October 1792, meanwhile the expedition had arrived in the Pacific Northwest , Broughton was commissioned to explore the lower reaches of the Columbia River, recently discovered by Robert Gray , with several boats . Broughton and his companions reached the Columbia River Gorge , where they were the first Europeans to discover Mount Hood .

In late 1792 Vancouver sent him back to England to deliver news and request new orders regarding the surrender of the Nootka Sound . He crossed the North American continent and came to Veracruz , from where he continued his journey. Broughton, who was promoted to captain, was given command of HMS Providence , a former ship of William Bligh , in October 1793 .

Broughton was sent back to North America to aid Vancouver. However, he did not find Vancouver at the agreed meeting point, as it had now completed its measurements. Instead, Broughton carried out exploratory trips in the Asian part of the Pacific, especially around Hokkaidō , where he discovered the Millennium Island atoll on the way .

In Macau , where the crew hibernated, Broughton bought a schooner , which turned out to be a stroke of luck, since the Providence ran onto a reef and sank off the island of Miyako-jima in 1797 . The Providence crew continued their voyage in the schooner and returned to England in February 1799. Broughton continued to serve in the Royal Navy and rose to the rank of commodore . He later settled in Italy , where he died at the age of 58.

Broughton's notes served as the basis for planning the Lewis and Clark expedition eleven years after his voyage from the west coast of North America to Mexico . The Kuril island of Ostrov Broutona and the Broughton Archipelago on the Queen Charlotte Strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia are named after him .

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