The bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition brings anew enthusiasm to the history of the Pacific Northwest and a desire by many to learn about the country that America’s transcontinental explorers found when they arrived on the lower Columbia in 1805. At the end of their journey to the Pacific and just to the southwest of present-day Astoria, Oregon, is a small river named in their honor. The Lewis and Clark River empties into a confluence with Youngs River, which flows from the south and forms a bay along the estuary where the Columbia River so powerfully meets the sea. Youngs River and Youngs Bay were named after a British admiral who never saw the North Pacific; but it was Sir George Young’s nephew, Lt. William Robert Broughton, who explored the Columbia River in 1792 and placed the names of British gentry on the landscape.
Broughton’s map of the Columbia River was familiar to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and President Thomas Jefferson had instructed them about Broughton’s exploration — how Broughton had entered the river and charted its course for some one hundred miles upriver, where he placed the name Vancouver on the north side of the river, from where Mount Hood was visible. At that point, the river was reported to be a quarter-mile wide and from fourteen to thirty-six feet deep. Yet, Broughton had turned back, leaving the possibility open that the river might provide a passage farther into the continental interior. The British map gave Lewis and Clark some idea of what to expect as they made plans to follow the Great River of the West from the mountains to the estuary that had been discovered by American Captain Robert Gray on May 11, 1792.
The early explorers of Great Britain, Spain, and the United States were the first to name in writing the places they surveyed along the Oregon coast and the Columbia River. British explorer Lt. William Robert Broughton, during his weeklong expedition by boat up the Columbia in October 1792, placed many names on what was to him a new and unnamed landscape, creating a river of names that was recognizably British and relevant to the world in which he lived. Thirteen years later, when Lewis and Clark saw that same landscape, the Americans made a new map, replacing Broughton’s names with new ones that marked the new American presence in the Pacific Northwest.
Few of those names survive today on either side of the river. Those that do remain — Mount Hood, Youngs River, Tongue Point, Baker’s Bay — tell part of the story of Broughton’s expedition. They also tell us how the English lieutenant drew on the social connections of his family to place-names on the Columbian landscape. By looking at Broughton’s place-names, we discover how small the British explorers’ social world was. And it was through those social connections that Americans such as Thomas Jefferson, who had visited London in 1786, would find information that was useful to him as president in 1803 when he helped prepare Meriwether Lewis for his transcontinental expedition to the Pacific.
The Chatham: Across the Columbia River Bar
On Tuesday, October 23, 1792, two boats were provisioned by the men of the British exploring vessel HMS Chatham, at anchor on the north side of the Columbia River across from a “remarkable projecting point that obtained the name of Tongue Point.” Lt. William Robert Broughton, commander, was preparing to take the boats inland in an expedition that would take him away from his ship for a week. He and Capt. George Vancouver, commander of the Discovery, had sailed from England in 1791. For about a year and a half, they had conducted explorations in tandem across the Pacific, with only a few separations at sea forced by bad weather and for specific explorations in the San Juan Islands and the Inside Passage north of Puget Sound. The two ships were separated once again when the Chatham crossed the bar of the Columbia River, but Vancouver decided that both weather and hydrographic conditions at the river’s mouth precluded a safe crossing for the larger ship. So, under Vancouver’s order, Broughton crossed the bar to investigate the Great River of the West.
Vancouver’s decision to explore the river had come after diplomatic discussions with the Spanish at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. At Nootka, Commandant Bodega y Quadra had “informed Vancouver that Captain Robert Gray, of the ship Columbia Rediviva, of Boston, had succeeded in crossing the bar into what the Spaniards called Heceta Inlet, supposed to be the outlet of Rio San Roque, and that he found it to be a large river of fresh water which he had named Columbia’s River, after his staunch little ship.” The Spanish commandante had passed on Gray’s chart of “Columbia’s River.” The British ships had then sailed south in October 1792 to follow up the report. Ironically, Vancouver had spoken to Captain Gray on the Columbia Rediviva in the spring, not long after Vancouver had sailed past the river without attempting to explore it. At that time, Gray was en route to the river and would become the first white explorer to cross the treacherous river bar and anchor in the great estuary at the mouth of the river he would name the Columbia.
Gray’s chart helped Broughton when he entered the river on October 21 during the threat of storm, “a very fresh breeze in our favor, but a strong tide against us.” Broughton finally anchored the Chatham about a mile from Cape Disappointment. Because Gray’s chart had been made during the spring, it did not show the “very shoal” channels in the river, so he decided that it was prudent to leave the Chatham at anchor under Lt. Thomas Manby. He set out by boat to sound the river channel and chart its southern shore. Broughton’s name for that channel, Tongue Point, remains as one of the best-known features of the lower river.
Gray’s chart was only a rough sketch of the river’s mouth with inaccurate soundings, and the British survey would be the first that would accurately map the Columbia. Broughton’s survey began by taking soundings as the crews rowed the Chatham’s boats across the wide river from north to south. They stopped briefly on the north shore (near present-day McGowan), where Gray’s chart showed a village. There, Broughton took bearings to begin the survey, but the men were soon “surrounded with Swarms of Fleas” and ran into the water “to rid themselves of their unpleasant companions.” The exploring party headed across the river to the southern shore, passing a shoal that seemed to run mid-channel for some distance upstream.
From their mid-river position, they looked out across the bar to the Pacific but saw no sign of the Discovery. Master’s Mate John Sherriff recorded the day’s activities:
We now proceeded to the opposite shore, when we are about 2 thirds over the water was observ’d to break at times very heavy, though I sounded several times & never had less than 5 fms, after having clear’d these breakers, the water was perfectly smooth & we landed upon Point Adams.
When the cutter arrived on the south shore, Broughton and Bell walked on the beach and found “several large Canoes curiously ornamented raised by the help of Pillars, about a man height from the ground.” After describing the canoe-crypts in his journal, Bell wrote: “after placing every thing as we found them, went on the Boat, and embark’d, proceeding on the survey.”
In a chapter of his voyage journal, George Vancouver included Edward Bell’s account of Broughton’s naming of Youngs River:
We kept the South shore on board, and about 3 miles beyond Pt. Adams, Entered a River which at the mouth was little better than a quarter of a mile wide with moderate soundings; this River Mr. B named Youngs River, after Sir George Young of the Navy.
The British left the Columbia’s strong current and rowed up Youngs River to find a marshy hinterland with an abundance of wildfowl: snipes, geese, ducks, teal, and “Wild Turkeys, or grouse.” Sherriff describes their exploration of Youngs River:
Observing a small opening in the back of this Bay leading to the Southward, We enter’d it & found it to be a River trending in a SSE Direction, it was now about 3 ‘clock & we pull’d up till 8 in the evening With a favorable tide, carrying good sounding all the way, when we judg’d Ourselves to be about 16 or 18 miles from the Entrance, Mr. B. now stopp’d To pitch the Tents for the night.
Sherriff, who Broughton had sent upriver by boat, returned to report that he had found the head of the river about six or seven miles farther up. They were not far from the ocean, as he could hear the sound of breakers on a beach in the distance. As night fell, the men pitched their tents “near the head of this river” and started a large fire to keep themselves dry while “it rain’d exceedingly heavy.” Broughton recorded Youngs River on his chart, “A Sketch of the River Columbia Explor’d on His Majesty’s Arm’d Brig Chatham, Lieut. Broughton Commander in October, 1792.” But no one at the time of the expedition nor subsequent accounts by historians have noted that Sir George Young was Broughton’s uncle.
Broughton was born on March 22, 1762, the son of Charles Broughton, a member of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of Hamburg, and Elizabeth Young. When he was twelve years old, in 1774, William entered the Royal Navy. His uncle, George Young, made Post Captain in 1777 and rose quickly to Flag Captain in the East Indies. Upon his return home, his career continued brightly, as he became well connected in social circles that included members of parliament and the Royal Society, in which he became a Fellow in 1781.
George Young went to sea at the age of fourteen, serving in the East India Company for about ten years before joining HMS York under Captain Hugh Pigot. He distinguished himself at Louisbourg in 1758 when he commanded a ship that cut out the French sixty-four-gun Bienfaissant and destroyed the Prudent. Louisbourg surrendered the following day, and Young captured the scene in a sketch that was later used by artist Francis Swaine for an oil painting that hung at Young’s home at Formosa Place, Berkshire.
Young was again with Pigot on the Royal William for the capture of Quebec in 1759 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1761. Sir George Pocock was commander of the fleet piloted by Capt. John Urry that reduced Havana in 1762, and Young was a lieutenant on the Orford in that engagement. He was promoted to commander in 1768 on the West African station. Young served as flag-captain to Admiral Sir Edward Vernon at Pondicherry on the Indian coast in 1778 and was then given command of the Royal Yacht William and Mary. Captain Young took the Prince of Wales to the Nore when King George visited the fleet in 1781. He was knighted that same year.
Young was also associated with Sir Joseph Banks and the Royal Society. He wrote a paper on creating a colony in New South Wales for the purpose of creating a trading port with China and establishing agriculture based on the New Zealand flax plant. In 1788, Sir George and Sir John Call applied for a colonial land grant of Norfolk Island, the beginning of settlement there. Although they did not receive the grant, Young continued to have a strong interest in the development of the Pacific. The young Lieutenant Broughton felt that his uncle deserved to be remembered, and his was one of the first names he bestowed on a geographic feature — a cape in the Chatham Islands some one thousand miles east of New Zealand. He also chose the name Young to give to the first river he saw in Oregon that flows into the Columbia.
The Return from Youngs River
Broughton spent his first night away from the Chatham on the banks of the river he had named for Young. It had “rained without ceasing,” but at daylight the next morning — on October 23 — it was pleasant “and greatly inriched the prospect of the beautiful surrounding country.” The area had numerous trees and shrubs, “diversifying the landscape by the several tints of their autumnal foliage.” The men pulled their oars along the southern shore of the Columbia toward Tongue Point, where Broughton noted that the peninsula looked like an island when seen from the ocean but was actually a point that stuck out like a tongue into the Columbia. From Tongue Point, they began to cross the Columbia, taking soundings of the extensive shoal at mid-channel and arriving at the Chatham by mid-afternoon.
Broughton decided to take the boats on a survey upriver and ordered Lieutenant Manby to shift the Chatham to an anchorage higher up the channel and nearer the shore. Edward Bell wrote: “One very large Canoe with about five & twenty Indians in her … came alongside and brought some Salmon which we eagerly bought of them on reasonable terms; they also brought two or 3 Otter Skins for sale and seem’d to know the value of them very well.” Although only two or three of the group were allowed on deck at a time, it did not take long for them to attempt to “steal an iron stantion” on board, and an apprehended thief was given a few strikes to his back, “that he might not forget that he was doing wrong.” Although Native Americans were receiving a lesson on European concepts of personal property, they had little idea that the Europeans considered that the acts of exploring, mapping, and naming of geography supported claims of British ownership of lands they had “discovered.”
The stern hand that enforced the property rights of the British with regard to possessions on board their ship was the hand that drew maps of the region and wrote journals of the expedition that ultimately led to the dispossession of the inhabitants of their homeland. But for the time being the mariner also extended a friendly hand to those people who understood the parameters of trade. The men on the Chatham observed one group of Natives in a smaller canoe. It turned out that this canoe carried a chief from farther up the river. His friendly assistance throughout the expedition was noted in the journal, as the chief in his canoe accompanied the British in their boats for most of the exploration up the river.
Expedition up the Columbia
Edward Bell recorded that on the evening of October 24 he “accompanied Mr. Broughton in the Cutter, and with the Launch and a Weeks provisions, set out to explore the river.” But the weather was bad as the men rowed from the ship near Point Ellice to a point of land at Gray’s Bay, and in the constant rain they scrambled up a high bank to pitch the tent at Grays’ Point. By the next morning, the weather was better, and soon they “had now got to where, in coming along, we conceived to be, the head of the river, forming a deep bay, we entered a tolerably broad River of fresh water, running in an Eastern direction, its bank on head side for many miles up were low and marking and the soundings at the entrance were from 10 to 14 fathoms.”
Broughton considered the Columbia estuary to be a bay, much as explorer Bruno de Hezeta had described it from the sea, with a river flowing into it. So, although an American, Robert Gray, had entered the Columbia River and Captain Vancouver considered him the “discoverer” of it, the Spanish claimed that Hezeta had sighted the bay and the river. The American had merely sailed into the Spanish bay. Broughton tended to support the Spanish interpretation, and he characterized the geography of the river from that perspective.
For Broughton, the investigation of the bay had been completed, and an exploration of the river itself — an exploration that no European or American had yet undertaken — was now the task of the British exploring party. “The Entrance of the fresh water river was distant 22 miles from Cape Disappointment, we entered it … with remarkable fine pleasant weather,” he wrote, as they proceeded up the channel into Hezeta’s Inlet.
Two canoes followed them upstream and sold their bows and arrows to the British before departing. The canoes returned later that afternoon, bringing two more canoes, and about a dozen Natives followed the British on October 25. On the Chatham, Manby wrote: “I was left with the command and directed to be on my guard against the Indians, and contrive some mode of replenishing our stock of Wood and Water.” He purchased a canoe from the Indians, who “took up residence under a Tree abreast the vessel” and were happy to supply Manby with fish. Firewood was easy to obtain by snagging floating driftwood.
The men aboard the Chatham entertained themselves by greeting “the good natured females [who] came daily on board to get themselves adorned with Beads and Buttons.” Manby felt no threat from them. Still, he was a bit uneasy, worried about “my friends in the Boat Expedition as eight days elapsed without my hearing anything from them.” Manby had sailed from England as master’s mate of the Chatham and was promoted to master at Nootka Sound. The crossing of the Columbia River bar was the first significant task since his promotion.
As Broughton rowed east up the river, the men took regular soundings from the east part of Gray’s Bay (present-day Harrington Point). They observed the high rocky shore along the north as they passed small sandy islets (Miller Sands to Tenasillahe Island) that were exposed due to seasonal low water levels. Broughton noticed a “pillar rock” along the north shore and then a river that emptied into the Columbia from the north. He named it Orchard’s River (present-day Skamokawa Creek) after Henry Masterman Orchard, the clerk of the Discovery. There they spent “an uncomfortable night, owing to the dampness.”
Morning Flood Tide, October 26, 1792
Daylight and the first flood tide converged early the next morning to accompany the explorers. Again the land was high on the north side of the river and low and swampy to the south, but soon they saw a large island that “received the name of Puget’s Island” after Lt. Peter Puget of the Discovery. They rounded the river bend and could see upriver where the present-day Washington side is defined by Cape Horn and Cooper Point. On the Oregon side, “a small river presented itself, which Mr. Broughton named Swaine’s River” after Spelman Swaine, 3rd lieutenant of the Discovery.
The next name Broughton gave to a river remembered his own lieutenant, much to the delight of Manby, whose Columbia River journal was updated on Broughton’s return to the Chatham with, “many rivers emptied themselves into it [the Columbia], one of which my Captain honored with my name.” On the north shore of the Columbia, east of Puget Island, the Chatham’s clerk, Edward Bell, keeper of the expedition journal, was remembered by Broughton’s designation of Bell’s Point (present-day Nassa Point).
The rivers Swaine and Manby seem to be identified with the west and east entrances of Wallace Slough, which lies on the south side of Wallace Island. Lamb notes that Broughton reversed the order of the names when he returned downstream later that week. This confusion may have resulted from the incident that took place when four canoes of Indians joined the party from a village spotted on the northern shore in vicinity of Swaine and Manby rivers. “Their language was so totally different from that of the other American Indians, that not a single word could be understood.” In spite of the barrier, the British were able to trade for fish.
As darkness fell on October 26, Broughton’s men looked for a campsite, but they did not want to follow the Natives who signaled them to the north shore. They rowed past the village near present-day Abernathy Creek, hoping the canoes would turn into this port. Instead, as Bell described it, “all the Indians in the Canoes set up a most dismal howl, which was answered by those on Shore.” One of the inhabitants, whom Bell thought to be the chief, waved an invitation to the British that they might stay there for the night; but Broughton pressed on, seeking solitude and safety for his campsite. Some distance beyond the village, they began to search the north shore for a camping site but noticed the canoes approaching again and decided to cross to the south shore. They spotted a good landing after noticing islands that Broughton named Baker’s Islands (present-day Crims Island now occupies the area of what had been several small islands), after Lt. Joseph Baker of the Discovery. Broughton crossed the river to the south, where a high bluff seemed to provide shelter for the sandy beach below. He named this Point Sherriff (now Green Point, near Megler) after John Sherriff, master’s mate of the Chatham. It had taken them twelve hours to make their way to the campsite, which was only twenty-two miles from the camp they had left with the morning flood tide.
Journal of John Sherriff, Master’s Mate
John Sherriff’s journal was unpublished until preparations for the bicentennial of the American and British explorations of the Columbia River in 1992, when historian Andrew David edited the journal for publication in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly.
At Point Sherriff, the British made it known to the Natives that they desired distance between campsites. As Sherriff recorded, “none of the Indians came near us, except one Old Chief, who we had seen at the Ship and whom we admitted.” A night watch made sure that none of the others who camped about five hundred yards away crossed the small creek that provided the border between campsites. The Natives, who arrived in nine canoes, took up their lodging by a small creek at a little distance from Broughton’s party. This situation served to convince Mr. Broughton that the farther the mariners proceeded upriver, the more the country was inhabited. He also recognized that they were beginning to encounter different groups of people, and he ordered the men to be on alert.
On the morning of October 27, Broughton and his men came to another island, which Broughton named after the Chatham’s surgeon, William Walker. The wind from the east and the ebb tide made rowing upriver difficult, but after two hours they made their way past Walker Island and found “a remarkable mount, about which were placed several canoes, containing dead bodies; to this was given the name Mount Coffin.” About a mile farther, the Indians who had been following them made their way to a hut along the river. Broughton continued past what he called Hut Creek, and at three in the afternoon came ashore for dinner near present-day Ranier, Oregon, only nine miles from Point Sherriff.
From the mouth of the river to his present location, Broughton had named most of the rivers, islands, and other geographic features after members of the Discovery or the Chatham— Orchard, Bell, Swaine, Manby, Baker, Sherriff, Walker, and Puget — and one after his uncle, Sir George Young. Only the names of Puget, Walker, and Young have been retained. Broughton also named geographic features as they appeared to him, such as Tongue Point, Spit Bank, Pillar Rock, and Mount Coffin. Tongue Point is the best known place-name that remains, while Pillar Rock and Coffin Rock are still place-names on mariners’ charts. Just upriver from Broughton’s dinner site, two rivers entered from the north and the Columbia turned toward the south. From this point on, Broughton began to name features after British officers or people who were not members of the expedition — men who were part of his family or who he knew through family or professional connections.
Broughton named the first of the two rivers entering the Columbia from the north River Poole. He may have had in mind Thomas Poole, a tanner in Nether Stowey, England, who was associated with two well-known alumni of Christ’s Hospital School — Charles Lamb and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The master of mathematics at the school at the time was William Wales, the astronomer aboard the Resolution during James Cook’s second voyage of exploration. Some believe that Wales’s stories of Pacific exploration may have inspired “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” which Coleridge wrote after the Vancouver expedition returned to England. Coleridge’s sponsor at Nether Stowey in 1797–1798 was Thomas Poole. Before Coleridge arrived at Nether Stowey, Poole had made many connections with leading literary and scientific figures, including members of the Royal Society such as Sir Humphrey Davy, famous for his experiments with laughing gas. Sir George Young, a fellow of the Royal Society since 1782, would have known about Davy’s scientific novelty, but we do not know whether Poole knew Young. Poole’s River was probably a slough of today’s Cowlitz River.
Broughton marked the next river on his chart with the name Knight’s River. “This last is the largest of the two,” referring to the actual confluence of the Cowlitz into the Columbia, “its entrance indicated its being extensive, and by signs of the Natives, they were given to understand, the people up that river possessed an abundance of sea-otter skins.” Knight’s River, one of the larger tributaries of the Columbia, was named after Capt. John Knight, one of Broughton’s former commanders. Broughton had served under Captain Knight in 1790, when his ship Victory was Lord Hood’s flagship during the Spanish Armament. Knight had known Broughton at least since 1775, when both men were taken prisoner in Massachusetts during the American Revolutionary War.
Knight’s River was marked on Broughton’s map just below where the Columbia bends to the west as it flows north. As the men rowed south against a strong current, they found a camping site (Cottonwood Island) about four miles upriver and landed at about half-past ten on Saturday, October 27, with the Native canoemen camping a short distance away. Early the next morning, they continued upriver, past a place that Broughton named Burial Head, a high rock about twenty feet above water (Coffin Rock), where he saw bodies and a few burial canoes. Another river entered the Columbia near Sandy Island. Broughton named it Hartwell’s River, probably after Francis Hartwell, the Navy Board clerk of acts whose responsibilities for correspondence record-keeping were well known to those such as Broughton and Vancouver as they created journals and correspondences from what had been an unknown part of the world.
Broughton named the island near present-day Kalama, Washington, Urry’s Islands. Capt. John Urry had taken a naval fleet into Havana in 1762 — including the Orford on which George Young had served as lieutenant — and in his retirement became known for his hospitality on the Isle of Wight. The Admiralty found it necessary to reprimand the popular captain for the delay his parties caused His Majesty’s ships, “which anchoring off his property whilst the officers and crews were ashore making merry.”
It appears that Sarah Urry, his daughter, married London merchant Mark Gregory, a member of parliament for Newport in 1777–1778. Gregory was connected to the Blackheath merchants — including George Macauley, Urry’s nephew, and William Curtis who chartered the Lady Penrhyn— for a fur-trading voyage to the Northwest. The ship had landed convicts at Sydney as part of the famous “First Fleet” expedition of 1787 but then had sailed to Tahiti, where the captain discovered a bad bottom, canceled the voyage to the Northwest, and sailed instead for Canton. Lady Penrhyn was the first British vessel to reach Tahiti before Capt. William Bligh arrived on the Bounty and the first to tell the Tahitians of the death of Captain Cook. Although this ship did not make it to the Pacific Northwest, Broughton nevertheless bestowed Urry’s name on islands in the Columbia River.
On October 28, Broughton and his crew arrived at a place where the river seemed to branch into three channels. As he looked upstream to the lower end of what is now known as Sauvie Island, he named the branch on the right (stretching to the south-southwest) Call’s River (the Multnomah Channel today) and the branch to the left (stretching in an easterly direction) Rushleigh’s River (presently known as the Lewis River). He considered the middle channel to be the main branch of the Columbia and the course that he intended to follow. It is likely that the name Rushleigh should be spelled with an “a” as in Rashleigh and that the river was named for another Broughton family relation, John Rashleigh.
Young, Call, and Rashleigh were connected through their spouses. Sir George Young was married first to Elizabeth Bradshaw, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. The eldest, Sir Samuel Young, had spent eleven years in India and was Broughton’s first cousin. With Sir George Young’s second marriage to Anne Battie, the daughter of Dr. William Battie, he acquired two sisters-in-law who had married prominent, established gentlemen from Cornwall. Philadelphia Battie married Sir John Call of Cornwall, and Katherine Battie married John Rashleigh, the father of Sir John Coleman Rashleigh of Cornwall.
As Broughton and his crew prepared to row up the middle channel, they found themselves “surrounded by twenty-three canoes carrying from three to twelve persons each, all attired in their war garments and in every other respect prepared for combat.” Broughton would remember this encounter with the name Warrior Point.
Encounter at Warrior Point
John Sherriff’s journal describes the ongoing contact with Indians along the river, including the canoe companions that followed the group daily and camped close by at night. It also adds details of the encounter near Chief Shkowley’s village that resulted in the name of Warrior Point designated by Broughton for the downstream tip of present day Sauvie Island. Sherriff wrote of their encounter on October 28: “I believe they came off (from Warrior Point) with an intention to attack us & drive us down the River again, coming off to the number of about 50 canoes, with from 3 to 10 men in each, every man prepared for War, their Bows strung, Quivers full & War Dresses on.”
The large village is Cathlapotle, situated near the mouth of Lake River, which enters the Columbia very close to the mouth of the Lewis River, the larger tributary that Broughton named “Rushleigh’s River” wrote Bell.
The identity of the chief of Cathlapotle has never been confirmed. Sherriff recorded the name “Shkowley” in his journal and identified him as the chief who came from the large village near Warrior Point. This appears to be a different man than the one who had accompanied the mariners from the mouth of the river, who Broughton referred to as the “friendly old chief.” His village was located on the south shore of the Columbia, just west of Lemon Island, and he has been identified as Chief Soto. If that is the case, this is the only known written record of the name of this chief.
Historian Andrew David argues that the individual who Sherriff identified as Shkowley was Chief Soto, but it is most likely not the case. Sherriff shows that there was one group of Natives whose company they had from the beginning of their trip upriver and another group that arrived off Warrior Point from the largest village Broughton and his crew encountered on the river. Sherriff also notes that Chief Shkowley’s group was dressed for war and that they talked with the Indians (Chief Soto’s group) that had accompanied the British from downstream. Vancouver’s account later notes that it was an “elderly chief, who in the most civil and friendly manner had accompanied them from the first, and had a village still farther up the river.” But Bell had described the leading chief in the canoes prepared for battle to be “a large and stout man.”
In 1805, Lewis and Clark visited the village of Cathlapotle and presented a chief there a medal, but they did not identify the chief by name, perhaps due to the difficulty of pronouncing the name or determining its spelling. Astorian traders wrote about Cathlapotle in the log of the Pacific Fur Company during 1811–1813, when the Americans traded at the river. Some years later, Hudson’s Bay Company employees documented visits to the village. None of these accounts document the name of the chief at Cathlapotle. Today, a major reconstruction of a traditional plankhouse at the Cathlapotle site is part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration, but it was Broughton and his men who were the first Europeans to meet the chief of this historic village, as described in the journals of Edward Bell and John Sherriff.
When Broughton and his men looked easterly from Warrior Point on October 28 and saw the large Indian village, according to Bell, “the strangers as seemed to belong to it strongly solicited the party to proceed thither; and to enforce their request, very unequivocally represented that if the party persisted in going to the southward they would have their heads cut off.” Broughton proceeded south anyway. “The same intreaties, urged by similar warnings, had before been experienced by Mr. Broughton during his excursion but having found them to be unnecessary cautions, he proceeded up that which he considered to be the main branch of the river.” It became clear that the residents of Cathlapotle and others who had gathered in the waters off Warrior Point did not wish to trade away their copper swords or their battle-axes made of iron. Sherriff documented how the meeting changed from confrontation to trade:
… the Chief after having some conversation with Mr. B. [Broughton] by signs, as we did not understand their language, in which conversation I thought he ask’d what we wanted here which was explain’d in the best manner we could, & likewise shewed him in the use of our Arms & fir’d a Musquet, which at once astonish’d & frighted them; after this the Chief spoke a few words to his followers & they unstrung their Bows & pull’d off their War Dresses immediately, and everyone was eager to dispose of his Arms, for our Trinketts. No details are given as to just what these “trinkets” were that made for easy trading, but it is likely that they included such things as small coinage, buttons, and beads, particularly blue beads and perhaps even articles of western clothing. These types of trading items would become part of the fabric of Chinook life on the Columbia.
Willow Point Campsite and Observation Station
Later that evening, after trading with the people of Cathlapotle, Broughton and his men found a sandy beach at Willow Point (on Sauvie Island) for a campsite. Had Broughton ventured inland, he would have found that Call’s River (present-day Multnomah Channel) is the western boundary of the island, but an inland excursion was unlikely considering that the area was heavily populated. Broughton’s map shows the location of two villages not far from his campsite.
The morning of October 29 brought a view of Mount St. Helens from the river, and the men stopped to take their bearings from a place Broughton marked “observation station” on his map. They were about eight miles upstream from Point Warrior. The mariners were now accompanied by twenty-five canoes with some one hundred and fifty people. The explorers ate dinner in their boats to avoid any danger, but they soon determined that such precautions were not required because “a trade immediately commenced, in which the Indians conducted themselves with the utmost decorum.” It appeared to Bell that there were at least two “principal chiefs” present and that they were disposed toward communication. “But, unfortunately for our gentlemen,” Bell wrote, “a total ignorance of the Indians’ language precluded their profiting by these friendly intentions.”
After dinner that afternoon, the British continued on, passing a river that Broughton named River Mannings (present-day Willamette River), which “commanded a most delightful prospect of the surrounding region.” The location was named Belle Vue Point. In some accounts, the name of the river is shown as “Munnings,” but “Manning’s River” appears in the first edition of Vancouver’s Voyage of Discovery. Historian J.N. Barry noted that there was a Samuel Manning, a boatswain’s mate, on board the Discovery, and there is speculation that the river was named for him. We should look for a moment, however, at the pattern of names Broughton selected prior to his Columbia River expedition. He first assigned names to the landscape in the Chatham Islands east of New Zealand, where he named Cape Young and Point Manning. Given the connections between Sir George Young and others with interests in the Norfolk Island colony north of New Zealand, Broughton may have had a Captain Edward Manning in mind when he named Point Manning and possibly the same captain for Mannings River on the Columbia. Captain Edward Manning commanded the Pitt, a ship that in the early 1790s was owned by Captain Urry’s nephew, George Macaulay, which sailed on a voyage to Australia in 1791. Broughton seems always to have the world of family and social connections in mind when selecting place-names.
“A distant snowy mountain now appeared”
The mountain in the distance was Oregon’s highest mountain, rising dramatically to 11,235 feet and standing out “in the midst of an extensive tract of low, or moderately elevated land.” The mountain remained unnamed for the moment, as Broughton considered that it “seemed to announce the termination to the river,” for surely such a large mountain would prove to be the location of the Columbia’s headwaters.
As the men continued to take soundings on the Columbia, Broughton named another island (present-day Hayden Island) for a member of the Discovery— Menzie’s Island, after Archibald Menzies. A smaller island to the east was not named on the upriver voyage, but it was noted that it was covered with wild geese and on their return Broughton named it Goose Island. Today, it is known as Tomahawk Island. As some of the canoes had disappeared into creeks along the way, there were, no doubt, villages nearby that the men could not see, and the man who Bell called “friendly old chief” indicated that his village was not far upriver.
Having received many presents he had become much attached to the party, and to manifest his gratitude, he now went forward to provide them with lodgings, and whatever acceptable refreshments his village might afford.
They reached the village at about seven that evening; and although the chief invited them to stay, they continued about a mile to a shallow creek (thought to be what is now the channel south of Lemon Island) about eight miles up from Belle Vue Point. The next morning, October 30, they rowed toward the north shore of the river, an east wind across the bow of their boats. Another river was spotted on the southern shore, and Broughton named it “Baring’s River.”
Broughton’s first cousin, Sir Samuel Young, had married Emily Baring after returning from Madras in 1793. Emily’s father, merchant and banker Charles Baring, created a business partnership for his new son-in-law. To what extent the Barings were on familiar terms with the Young and Broughton families before the marriage is uncertain, but they were certainly acquainted by the time Broughton drew his map of the Columbia. Thomas Jefferson had met Francis Baring in London in 1786. He had also met Duncan Campbell, the West India merchant who was chairman of the British creditors and uncle to Captain William Bligh. Campbell had been involved in the transport of convicts from London to Virginia before the Revolutionary War and had administered prison hulks on the Thames when the war prevented further transport to the American colonies. Sir George Young was among those who supported the development of convict colonies at Australia and Norfolk Island, and he began to study opportunities in the Pacific for colonies and trading ports. It is difficult to know whether Broughton knew of Jefferson’s meeting with Baring in London, but it is clear that Jefferson knew about Broughton’s exploration of the Columbia. Many years later, on November 7, 1805, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark crossed the continent and arrived near the point of entry into Baring’s River. They renamed it the Quicksand River (present-day Sandy River).
As the month of October was reaching its end, Broughton realized that his exploration on the Columbia was coming to a close. Then, “ten canoes with the natives now attended to them, and their friendly old chief soon returned and brought them an abundance of very fine salmon,” which they now prepared on an island (present-day Lady Island) that Broughton named after Lieutenant Johnstone of the Chatham, who at the crossing of the bar had been out in a small boat and had returned to the Discovery. Johnstone had sailed on to California with Vancouver and had missed the expedition up the Columbia.
On Tuesday, October 20, 1792, Broughton landed “for the purpose of taking our last bearings; a sandy point on the opposite shore bore S. 80 E., distant about two miles; this point terminating our view of the river I named it after Captain Vancouver.” Then, as T.C. Elliott tells us, the view of “the same remarkable mountain that had been seen from Belle Vue point, again presented itself…. Mr. Broughton honored it with Lord Hood’s name.”
As Broughton looked east toward Mount Hood, the Columbia River seemed to take a turn toward the north, past Point Vancouver, and then disappeared into the hilly shores that, unknown to Broughton, became the great Columbia Gorge. Broughton was of the opinion that the headwaters of the river were somewhere on the high mountain. A Native informant reported that there was a great falls not much farther up the river, describing it by “taking water up in his hands and imitating the manner of its falling from rocks, point at the same time, to the place where the sun rises; indicating that its source in that direction would be found at a great distance.” But Broughton decided not to spend another day going upriver. It was time, he decided, to return to the Chatham.
Broughton’s map was incorporated into Vancouver’s great chart, and his journal became part of Vancouver’s voyage report. He carried the charts and dispatches across Mexico and returned to England in 1793 with the latest cartographic information on the Pacific. The information from the expedition circulated among the scientific community in Britain and France and in 1803 was available in the United States and was on the desk of Thomas Jefferson. On July 15, 1803, just after Jefferson received the treaty from Paris that ceded Louisiana to the United States, the president wrote Meriwether Lewis: “I received also from Mr. La Cepede at Paris, to whom I had mentioned your intended expedition a letter of which the following is an extract. ‘Mr. Broughton, one of the companions of Captain Vancouver went up Columbia river 100 miles, in December 1792.'” Broughton had “stopped at a point which he named Vancouver lat. 45 27’ longitude 237 50’E. Here the river Columbia is still a quarter of a mile wide & from 12. to 36. feet deep. It is far then to it’s head. From this point Mount Hood is seen 20. leagues distant, which is probably a dependence of the Stony mountains.” According to the University of Virginia Library’s exhibit, Lewis and Clark: The Maps of Exploration 1507–1814, “Broughton’s accurate chart of the lower Columbia proved especially useful to Lewis and Clark as they approached the Pacific coast.”
Today, the name Broughton Bluff marks a hill on the southern shore in Oregon overlooking the easternmost extent that the explorer reached in 1792. In 1974, the Oregon Historical Society commemorated the exploration by naming Chatham Island after Broughton’s ship and naming Broughton Reach for that stretch of the Columbia east of Flag Island where the lieutenant paused to consider the origins of the great river. Broughton noted that here, in the most distant wilderness, where “the subjects of no civilized nation had never entered,” the relations with Native peoples of the river were most friendly. The man they called the “friendly old chief” joined in at the ceremonies and drank “His Majesty’s health on the occasion.”
Night had closed in on the ceremonies as the British embarked in their boats. Broughton ordered them to spread out and take soundings all the way downstream. The soundings showed a bank “extending intirely across Barings River and across the main branch to the rocky passage west of Johnstones island — only 3 fathoms,” confirming Broughton’s view that they had nearly reached the limits of navigability on the river.
Because they had begun their return so late that day, they sounded their way downriver for about three hours before finding a camp about half a mile from the preceding night’s campground. It had taken them some twelve hours to ascend the river but only three hours to return.
Daybreak on the last day of October brought the “friendly old chief” once more, but this time with his entire band in canoes to see the explorers off. The Neerchikikoo village was home to the chief; and having accompanied the Europeans from the sea to the inland valley he called home, the chief had decided to remain on the river’s reach across from his village. Broughton decided to name this portion of the river Friendly Reach after the chief. He also marked the point on shore to the north Parting Point (now Mathews Point) to commemorate the site where he bade farewell to his companions of the Columbia.
As the boats made their way past Whidbey’s River (present-day Batchelor Island Slough), the men continued soundings past Urry’s Islands and noticed the river deepen. Passing the entrance of Knight’s River, they recorded an increase of from seven to twelve fathoms. The canoes continued downstream until an island near Baker’s Island offered the night’s shelter. Once again, Broughton’s thoughts must have turned to the Chatham and whether preparations for sail had been completed. The men had been away from the Discovery now for about ten days, and he was eager to rejoin Captain Vancouver in present-day California. Broughton spent the last night camping below Baker’s Island before finally returning to the Chatham at nine o’clock that night.
Ready for Sail
There was joy on their return and Manby had the Chatham ready for sail, but the question remained about whether the river would allow their safe departure. Broughton went ashore and climbed a hill to view the state of the channel. The Jenny, a smaller ship, was about to depart from Baker’s Bay, so it made sense to watch its passage. On Saturday, November 10, Broughton sent the cutter out to sound the Columbia River bar; and as the Jenny made its way to sea, the Chatham carefully followed. Heavy seas broke on the Chatham and on the boat manned by Marine Landon, who was almost lost in the breakers. Fortunately, he was brought to safety, and the Chatham successfully crossed the treacherous Columbia bar without further incident.
As the Chatham sailed south, the crew saw a sail in the distance that they would later learn was the store ship Daedalus. Under Joseph Whidbey, that ship had just explored Gray’s Harbor and would meet Vancouver in present-day California. It was probably not of much concern to Broughton, since the Chatham experienced “a very boisterous and unpleasant passage, until she passed Cape Mendocino.” Conditions were more pleasant as they passed into San Francisco Bay and found the Discovery at anchor off Yerba Buena. Together, Vancouver and Broughton sailed to Monterey, where Vancouver prepared his journal and voyage charts to include the new findings of the Columbia River brought back by Broughton.
But Broughton and Vancouver did not agree on what had just been explored. Broughton tended to favor the Spanish perspective: “The discovery of this river we were given to understand is claimed by the Spaniards, who call it Entrada de Ceta after the commander of the vessel.” So he deferred to the name of the bay as Hezeta’s Inlet and considered the American claim and its name of the river to be a discovery subordinate to this. Although there is no record to indicate any lingering resentment, Broughton’s reluctance to credit the Americans may have stemmed from his year as a prisoner of war in Massachusetts. Vancouver showed no reluctance to fully credit Robert Gray for the discovery of the river, and he did not wish to adopt the Spanish perspective that made a distinction between river and bay. His view prevailed, which in the long run became of great benefit to the United States of America because it supported the Americans’ claim of Gray as the discoverer.
When Vancouver’s reports and charts were completed, he sent Lieutenant Broughton home to England, accepting the Spanish offer of transport for Broughton by ship to San Blas and then across Mexico by horse to Vera Cruz, where Broughton sailed for Cadiz and finally for England in the summer of 1793.
Back in England
By the time Broughton returned, England was in a war with France. On February 12, 1793, King George III had sent a message to the House of Commons announcing that France had declared war on Britain and Holland.
William Pitt the Younger, as he became known, was prime minister at the age of twenty-four, and the scene of Pitt’s speech in Commons on that occasion was painted by the Austrian artist Karl Anton Hickel in the summer of 1794. In addition to the men on the opposition front bench, such as Fox, Sheridan, and Erskine, there are a number of individuals represented in the painting that are related to the names that Broughton selected during the previous year for places on his map. These men include Sir Francis Baring, merchant banker and brother of Charles Baring, father of Sir Samuel Young’s wife; Alexander Hood, Lord Bridport and Broughton’s former commander, who was brother to Samuel Hood; Samuel Hood, the admiral who Broughton honored by designating Mount Hood; and Sir John Call, whose name Broughton gave to Call’s river (present-day Multnomah Channel).
Broughton was promoted to captain in the fall of 1793, given command of the Providence, and sent back to the Pacific. He never returned to the Columbia River. After visiting Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, he sailed south to Monterey and across the Pacific by way of Hawaii to Japan, where he conducted a survey of Hokkaido in the fall of 1796. The following spring, the Providence was shipwrecked at Miyako Island in the Ryukyu chain south of Okinawa. Broughton and his crew were rescued by a small schooner he had purchased at Macao that winter. He persevered through the remainder of the season, exploring northeast Asia by schooner. Broughton reached home in February 1799 as the last of the Royal Naval Pacific explorers of the eighteenth century. He continued his career as a naval captain during the Napoleonic wars, serving at Basque Roads and as commodore in the Java expedition of 1811. He died in Italy in 1821.
1. A study of Oregon geographic place-names shows that nearly 60 percent are descriptive and just over 25 percent are honorary. Lewis A. McArthur identified many of the original sources of these place-names and how they changed over time. See Lewis A. McArthur and Lewis L. McArthur, Oregon Geographic Place Names 5th ed. (Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1982), vii (see table).
2. W.K. Lamb, ed., “Lt. Broughton’s Account of Columbia River,” in Vancouver’s Voyage of Discovery (London: Hakluyt Society, 1984), 748, chap. 3.
3. Broughton’s exploration of the Columbia by boat was reenacted in 1992 by Douglas Brooks, who constructed a replica of the Chatham’s cutter and trained volunteers to row it upriver from the mouth of the Columbia to Broughton’s easternmost point. See Douglas Brooks, “Up The Columbia,” Classic Boat, no.81 (March 1995), 63.
4. J. Neilson Barry, “Columbia River Exploration, 1792,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 33:1 (March 1932): 31.
5. Ibid., 34.
6. Ibid., 37.
7. Andrew David, “John Sherriff on the Columbia, 1792,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 83:2 (April 1992): 54.
8. Ibid., 38.
9. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 750.
10. Sherriff, “John Sherriff on the Columbia,” 55.
12. William Robert Broughton, “A Sketch of the River Columbia Explor’d on His Majesty’s Arm’d Brig Chatham, Lieut. Broughton Commander in October, 1792,” in Maps Collection, color trans. 104638, OrHi 56984, Research Library, Oregon Historical Society, Portland [hereafter OHS Research Library].
13. The written record kept by Edward Bell, clerk of the Chatham, who accompanied Broughton and wrote in the ship’s journal, is the primary source for historians. But Bell’s account, as well as research by historians, did not contain the details of the family connection between Sir George Young and William Broughton. See Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account of Columbia River”; F.W. Howay and T.C. Elliot, “Vancouver’s Brig Chatham in the Columbia,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 43:4 (December 1942): 318–27; Barry, “Columbia River Exploration”; and David, “John Sherriff on the Columbia, 1792.” The author is grateful for the assistance of Sir George Young, 6th Baronet, mp for North West Hampshire, U.K., and Young family historian Tom Winnifrith for providing a copy of the rare unpublished book, “Young of Formosa,” by Sir George Young 3rd Bt., 1927.
14. Records of St. Stephen’s Walbrook, March 26, 1762, in Manuscripts Department, Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury EC2P 2EJ, London, England.
15. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, from the earliest times to 1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917), 1288.
16. Sir George Young 3rd Bt., “Young of Formosa,” 20.
18. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 750.
19. Barry, “Columbia River Exploration, 1792,” 39.
20. Ibid., 40.
21. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 750.
22. Howay and Elliot, “Vancouver’s Brig Chatham,” 321.
23. Ibid., 322.
24. David, “John Sherriff on the Columbia, 1792,” 56.
25. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 752.
26. Ibid. 752–53. Broughton might have known other Swaines, as they seem to have been acquainted with the Young family. The painting at Formosa Place of the Battle of Louisbourg was painted by Francis Swaine.
27. Howay and Elliot, “Vancouver’s Brig Chatham,” 323.
28. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 753.
29. Barry, “Columbia River Exploration,” 41. The village on the east side of Nequally Creek, Cowlitz County, Washington near Abernethy Point is marked on Broughton’s chart archived in the OHS Research Library.
30. The railroad berm at Green Point has changed the shoreline where the explorers camped, but a small public beach just west of Mayger provides a view across the river where Broughton crossed as he came around Baker’s Island (now Crim’s Island).
31. David, in “John Sherriff on the Columbia, 1792,” provides excerpts from Sherriff’s journal that revealed additional details of Broughton’s Columbia River expedition, including the exploration of Youngs River and the encounters with Indians (also described by Bell and Manby).
32. Barry, “Columbia River Exploration,” 42.
33. Barry, “Broughton on the Columbia in 1792,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 27:4 (December 1926): 401.
34. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 754.
35. Today, party boaters gather to “make merry” within the sheltered slough at Urry’s Island, now called Martin Island.
36. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 755.
37. David, “John Sherriff on the Columbia,” 56.
38. Broughton’s expedition account, as recorded by Bell and transcribed by Vancouver, includes the transposed letters of “a” and “u” in some names, including “Rushleigh” that should be “Rashleigh” and “Munning” that should be “Manning.” Lamb notes that the derivation for Broughton’s name is not known but that River Mannings was shown in the first edition spelled with an “a.” In the second edition, Lamb states that “River Munnings” on Broughton’s chart is “probably correct.” See Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 756–7 notes. I believe that “Mannings,” as shown in the first edition, is correct. The other cases where some confusion has remained is related to the written “a,” which appeared to be a “u” on Broughton’s map. Therefore, “River Munnings” should be “River Mannings” and “Rushleigh’s River” should be “Rashleigh’s River.” Both Mannings and Rashleigh have family connections to Broughton and Young.
39. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 758.
40. Barry, “Columbia River Exploration,” 143
41. Robert E. Jones, ed., Annals of Astoria: The Headquarters Log of the Pacific Fur Company on the Columbia River, 1811–1813 (New York: Fordham University Press, 1999).
42. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 756.
43. A sketch of the battle-axe by Edward Bell has been studied by historians who consider it evidence of the indigenous Columbia-Snake River trading network that brought goods from the Sioux Indians across the Rocky Mountains and to the Columbia River. See, for example, Barry, “Columbia River Exploration,” 153.
44. David, “John Sherriff on the Columbia,” 56.
45. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 757.
46. Ibid. Such a large gathering of boats was not seen again on the Columbia until the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1805–1806 — and the centennial commemoration of the expedition — or when the Rose Festival fleets began calling on Portland each June.
47. Barry “Broughton on the Columbia in 1792,” 404.
48. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 757.
49. Ibid., 758 The village was called Ne-er-che-ki-koo at the time of Lewis and Clark, who included it on their map.
50. Young, “Young of Formosa,” 36.
51. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 759.
52. T.C. Elliot, “Where Is Point Vancouver?” Oregon Historical Quarterly 18:2 (June 1917): 79.
53. BACM Research, Beverly Hills, California, http://www.paperlessarchives.com/lewis_clark.html (accessed November 28, 2005).
54. Heather Moore Riser and George Riser, curators, “Lewis and Clark: The Maps of Exploration 1507–1814,” an online exhibit of the Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/exhibits/lewis_clark/planning3.html. (Accessed November 29, 2005) See also Guy Meriwether Benson et al., Lewis and Clark: The Maps of Exploration, 1507–1814 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Library, 2002).
55. The bluff was named in 1926 by the Portland Girl Scouts. See McArthur and McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names, 86.
56. Ibid., 100.
57. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 761.
59. The name “Friendly Reach,” given by Broughton in 1792, was formally adopted by the U.S. Geographic Names Board in 1926 after a petition from Portland-area Campfire Girls, led by Mrs. Mildred Barry. See McArthur and McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names, 301, and “News and Comment,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 30:1 (March 1929): 81. Because of Mildred Barry’s work toward recognition and J. Neilson Barry’s essays about Broughton published in Oregon Historical Quarterly, the name Barry is associated with making Broughton’s exploration known in the twentieth century.
60. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 763–64.
61. Ibid., 766.
62. David, “John Sherriff on the Columbia,” 59.
63. Lamb, “Lt. Broughton’s Account,” 763–64.
64. Ibid., 768.
65. Jim Mockford, “The Journal of a Tour Across the Continent of New Spain From St. Blas in the North Pacific Ocean to La Vera Cruz in the Gulph of Mexico,” Terrae Incognitae, The Journal of the Society for the History of Discoveries, 36 (Annual 2004), 42.