Kingcome, Rear Admiral John
b. 1794
d. 1871-08-07
Born in 1794, John Kingcome’s naval career began at the age of fourteen when he volunteered aboard the Emerald in 1808. Kingcome served in numerous locations, from Lake Huron to the Baltics and East India.1 In 1862, Kingcome (then a rear admiral) became Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station, located at Esquimalt.2
In 1864, Kingcome offered crucial assistance in the capture of twenty-five Tsilhqot'in people accused of murdering road workers near Bute Inlet. The attack prompted what is now known as the “Chilcotin War.” The exact number of road workers killed is uncertain: some reports count as low as twelve, others as high as twenty-four.3 The cause of the attack is also uncertain: while colonists saw it as an example of a spreading Indian Insurrection, historians have suggested grievances on the part of the Tsilhqot'in- such as verbal threats of smallpox and the forced prostitution of Tsilhqot'in women for food - as having provoked violent retribution.4
In their first attempts to capture the accused, colonist volunteers tried to enter Tsilhqot'in territory but suffered three deaths and four wounded with no progress. Eventually, the party appealed to Governor Seymour, who enlisted the help of Kingcome. The rear admiral had helped with similar missions in the past. For example, in 1863, he led the pursuit of accused Hwlitsum people for their alleged murder of Frederick Marks and his daughter Caroline Harvey. In 1864, Kingcome brought volunteers up the Bentinck Arm and into Tsilhqot'in hunting grounds. Seymour later described Kingcome’s actions as almost impossible to overrate and credited him for the mission’s success, in which five of the twenty-five accused were captured.5 The accused were sentenced to death in October 1864.6
In 1865, a coastal survey named a BC fjord as Kingcome Inlet, after the rear admiral.7 Little is known about Kingcome’s personal life. He had at least one son, who drowned in 1847 while he served as Kingcome’s midshipman.8
Kingcome retired in 1866, advancing to admiral in 1869. He died two years later, on 7 August 1871. Kingcome is buried in Plymouth, England.9
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Harvey Caroline

Marks, Frederick

Seymour, Frederick

Vessels in this document

Emerald

Places in this document

Bentinck Arm

British Columbia

Bute Inlet

Esquimalt

Lake Huron

The Colonial Despatches Team. Kingcome, Rear Admiral John. 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/kingcome.html.

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