Broughton, Lieutenant William Robert
b. 1762-03-22
d. 1821-03-12
Lieutenant William Broughton was the commander of the armed tender HMS Chatham during 1792, at which time he accompanied Captain George Vancouver's expedition to map the Pacific Northwest.1 During this voyage, he had the distinction of meeting Galiano and Valdés to offer mutual assistance as they entered the Strait of Georgia in 1792,2 mapping the San Juan Islands,3 and exploring 160 km up the Columbia and claiming possession of it for Britain.4
Towards the end of 1792 Vancouver sent him back to England, via Latin America, after the cordial but fruitless second Nootka Convention; eventually, Broughton delivered important maps and reports to the British government.5
He arrived back in the Pacific Northwest in a new ship, the Providence, in 1794, but found that Vancouver had completed his survey and left, so Broughton proceeded to Asia to survey coasts for four years, until his ship sunk on a reef near Okinawa in 1797—Broughton was court-martialled for the incident, but acquitted.6 Thereafter, he was discharged to England, on half pay, until he soon returned to sea and several commands and naval exploits.7 Broughton became a colonel of the Royal Marines in 1819 and died in 1821, in Florence, where he spent his latter years.8
Broughton Island, Broughton Lagoon, Broughton Peaks, Broughton Point, Broughton Strait, and North Broughton Island are named after this explorer.9 There is, however, some dispute over whether or not the Broughton Archipelago actually exists. For example, Scott argues for its existence and that it makes up what geologists refer to as the “Hecate Depression”.10
  • 1. Margaret Ormsby, British Columbia, A History (Toronto: Macmillan, 1976), 22.
  • 2. Derek Hayes, Historical Atlas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver: Cavendish Books, 1999), 77.
  • 3. Ibid., 86.
  • 4. Ibid., 88.
  • 5. Ibid., 76.
  • 6. J. K. Laughton, Broughton, William Robert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Andrew Scott, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009), 89.
  • 10. Ibid.
Mentions of this person in the documents