Bruce, Vice Admiral Henry William
b. 1792-02-02
d. 1832
Henry William Bruce was born 2 February 1792 in Great Britain. Bruce dedicated his life to the British Royal Navy and during his time as Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station (1854-1864) worked closely with Governor James Douglas. During September of 1855, Admiral Bruce surveyed the regions of Victoria and Esquimalt on the request of Governor Douglas to decide which of the two locations would be most suitable for military settlements on the shore. Bruce reported that Port Esquimalt would be a far better choice than Victoria.1 Bruce promoted the building of the military hospital in Esquimalt that served injured soldiers during the Crimean War in 1856 (today known as Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt).2
The following summer in 1856, Bruce assisted in the capture of Tathlasut, a Cowichan First Nations, who had been accused of maiming and attempting to murder Thomas Williams, a British citizen. Under the direction of Governor Douglas, British forces entered the Cowichan Valley, tracked down Tathlasut, tried him for his crime and hanged him. Douglas was further concerned about the amassing Cowichan “Indians,” and requested that Bruce stay in the region until tensions settled in September of 1856.3
Admiral Bruce received various military honours throughout his career. He showed an early interest in warfare, and by 1803 had enlisted in the British Royal Navy.4 Two years later, Bruce was part of Admiral Nelson's fleet during the Battle of Trafalgar, and would later take part in the War of 1812.5 Bruce's experience and skills were rewarded in 1823 when he was made Captain of the HMS Britannia.6 Bruce would also be made Captain of HMS Imogene in 1836, HMS Agincourt in 1842 and HMS Queen in 1847. He was also named Commodore of the West Coast of Africa Station in 1851 and Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station in 1854. He was finally promoted to Commander-in-Chief of Portsmouth in 1860, as well as becoming a Knight of the Order of Bath.7
In 1822, Bruce married Jane Cochrane, and after her death in 1832, married Louisa Mary Minchin Dalrymple -- he continued his service in the Royal Navy until his death on 14 December 1863.8 Bruce had devoted his life to the British Royal Navy, and had risen high in the ranks. Bruce's legacy is also displayed by his role in the development of Fort Esquimalt.9
  • 1. Douglas to Russell, 13 September 1855, No. 17, 10886, CO 305/6, 136.
  • 2. Lisa Nicholson, Admiral Sir Henry William Bruce, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
  • 3. Douglas to Labouchere , 6 September 1856, No. 21, 10152, CO 305/7, 94.
  • 4. Peter Davis, Henry William Bruce, William Loney - Background.
  • 5. Nicholson, Admiral Sir Henry William Bruce, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
  • 6. Davis, Henry William Bruce, William Loney - Background.
  • 7. Ibid. ; Nicholson, Admiral Sir Henry William Bruce, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
  • 8. Davis, Henry William Bruce, William Loney - Background.
  • 9. Nicholson, Admiral Sir Henry William Bruce, CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.
Mentions of this person in the documents
The Colonial Despatches Team. Bruce, Vice Admiral Henry William. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/bruce_hw.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)