Heseltine, Samuel J.
d. 1859-09-05
Samuel J. Heseltine was an engineer who briefly held a position in the colonial administration of Vancouver Island. Born in Enfield, England, he was chief engineer on the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) ship Labouchere, which arrived at Esquimalt for the first time on 31 January 1859 following a long journey from London.1 The voyage did not go smoothly for Heseltine, and, shortly after landing, he was found guilty of insubordination and a refusal to obey orders, and sentenced to ten days imprisonment in the common jail.2 Following this humiliation, he left the HBC but, as the result of being the only thoroughly qualified individual in the community, soon found himself appointed to the newly created position of Inspector of Steamboats in the colonial government.3 In late summer 1859, Heseltine spent a Thursday evening playing billiards with his friend and roommate Henry Wootton, who had also quit the HBC following the arduous trip on board Labouchere. The pair returned home around midnight, but Heseltine went out again on his own. When Wootton woke in the morning, he found Heseltine in bed with his leg badly broken below the knee.4 Taken to Victoria's Royal Hospital, Heseltine's health slowly deteriorated over the next nine days, and he died on 5 September 1859, at forty-three years of age.5 Unable, or unwilling, to explain how he had gotten injured, he carried that secret with him to his grave.6 Following his demise, Heseltine's father, Samuel R. Heseltine, made several attempts to collect the proceeds of his estate but it is not clear whether he was able to do so.7 Vancouver Island governor James Douglas was opposed to paying the salary owing Heseltine, arguing that he never completed any one single Act of the important duty it was intended he should perform, and describing him as a person of dissolute and erratic habits…much given to inebriety.8 Douglas's accusations might be supported by Victoria's British Colonist newspaper, which hinted that poor Heseltine struggled with both the law, and the bottle.9
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Douglas, James

Heseltine, Samuel R.

Wootton, Henry

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Hudson's Bay Company

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Labouchere, 1858

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Vancouver Island