Captain William Broughton (1762-1821)

A half-length portrait of Broughton slightly to right, in a captain’s undress uniform. He wears a black stock, frilled shirt and epaulettes. After serving as a midshipman on the coast of North America and the East Indies, in 1790 he was appointed to command the brig ‘Chatham’ to accompany George Vancouver on his voyage of discovery. En route to the north-west coast of America, via the Cape of Good Hope, in 1791 Broughton discovered a cluster of craggy islands south of New Zealand called the Snares, as well as Chatham Island. He also surveyed a part of the north-west coast which became known as the Broughton Archipelago in Queen Charlotte Sound. The name has not survived, though one island in the group is now Broughton Island. In 1792 he entered the Columbia River and explored it in boats for 100 miles upstream as far as Point Vancouver and later published his survey. In 1793 he travelled to Vera Cruz, overland from San Blas, on his way to England with dispatches.

On his arrival in England Broughton was made commander, on 3 October 1793, of the ‘Providence’, and was again sent out to the north-west coast of North America. He then crossed over to the other side, and over the next four years began a survey of the coast of Asia, from lat. 35° N to 52° N, parts of the Kurile Islands, Japan, Okinawa, and Formosa. He was promoted to captain in 1797 but lost the ‘Providence’ when it struck a coral reef, though everyone survived. Later that year he joined Admiral Rainier and, on arrival at Trincomalee, was court-martialled for the loss of the ‘Providence’. He was acquitted and returned to England. He published the history of this voyage and its geographical results in 1804. Between 1804 and 1811 he sailed in the East Indies, was present at the capture of Mauritius in 1810 and returned to England in 1812. During his later years Broughton resided in Florence, where he died suddenly on 12 March 1821 and he is buried in the English burial-ground at Leghorn.

Object Details

ID: BHC2576
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: British School, 19th century
Date made: 19th century
People: Broughton, William Robert
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 760 mm x 635 mm; Frame: 947 x 816 x 122 mm

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