Lascelles, Horace Douglas
b. 1839-09-20
d. 1869-06-15
Lascelles, born 1835 to Henry Lascelles the Third Earl of Harewood, arrived at Esquimalt Station as first lieutenant of the HMS Topaze and was shortly after promoted to commander of the HMS Forward.1 His contentious involvement in the investigation of several white settlers' murders is discussed in this despatch. Lascelles, who had a fearsome reputation among the First Nations along the Northwest Coast, suspected that the offenders were Lamalcha, and characterized them as the terror of the coast.2 According to his report, upon arriving at the village on Kuper Island he had dispatched an interpreter to speak to the chief, but the chief had returned an answer that he would not come, nor would he give up the murderers.3 Lamalcha oral history states a different story: a canoe had attempted to speak to the gunboat but was turned away.4 Lascelles claimed he hoisted the ship's flag, giving the Lamalcha tribe fifteen minutes to offer up the suspects, and upon their continued refusal he fired into the village.5 Lamalcha tribesmen retaliated by firing at the Forward, killing Charles F. Gliddon.6 Lascelles returned the following day to [knock] the village down as much as possible.7 Although Lascelles passed off the sharp skirmish as a success on the colonial side, the rare victory on the natives' part - especially by such a small group, who according to Lamalcha oral histories could not have numbered more than twenty-two men - was a severe blow to Lascelles' reputation and ego.8
Lascelles also faced criticism from his fellow settlers, including editor of the Daily Evening Express, Charles William Allen. Allen wrote a scathing editorial, mentioned in this despatch, which criticizes Lascelles' handling of the situation.9 Enraged, Lascelles had Allen board the Forward and confined him at sea and subjected him to physical abuse. Allen, who escaped by diving overboard, filed suit against Lascelles and won.10
Despite the criticism against him, Lascelles was regarded as an honourable commander by officials in the Colonial Office. In this despatch, his services were recommended to the newly appointed Governor Frederick Seymour, who was conveyed on the Forward with full military pomp to British Columbia. Lascelles died on 15 June 1869, and was buried with full naval ceremony at the Naval Cemetery.11
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