With sincere gratitude for work graciously shared
by Mr. Charles
Bazalgette, who provided the names and birth dates of George's parents
and siblings, as well as George's wedding date.
The bulk of this
work was kindly provided by Dr. Mark Hanus.
Notes on the
Life of George
George was born to Joseph William Bazalgette (b. 15 Dec. 1784) and Sarah
Crawford Magdalen Van Norden (b. 1794) in Nova Scotia sometime in the
late 1820’s. He was one of 15 children, of which 9 were boys and 6 were
girls. Seven of the boys accepted commissions in the various services.
George’s father was the adjutant general of Nova Scotia so it is likely
that they lived in Halifax. His most famous cousin, Sir Joseph
was knighted for clearing up the “big stink” of London by designing an
efficient sewer system for the city.
George Bazalgette was
commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant May 10 1847. His official records state
that he was 20½ when commissioned. However, genealogical records imply
that he was only 18 at the time. To date no actual birth records or a
definitive birth date has been located.
Lt. Bazalgette was assigned to Plymouth headquarters for initial
training until October 2 1847 when he was transferred to Woolwich and
given his first command.
On January 12 1848 he was transferred to the
HMS Wellesley for duty on the North America and West Indies
HMS Wellesley was a
1746 ton, wood, sailing ship of the Cornwallis class. She was ordered
by the Royal Navy in 1812 and launched February 24 1815. HMS Wellesley
was built in the Bombay shipyard. She was a two deck, third rate of 74
guns. In 1868 HMS Wellesley was renamed Cornwall for use as a training
ship and was eventually sunk in the Thames by Nazi air attack September
24 1940. In the above photograph HMS Wellesley is moored off North
Shields in 1868.
In 2004, letters
relating to HMS Wellesley’s time on station came up for auction. There
is no indication that they directly relate to George’s service but might
shed some light on the events of Wellesley’s cruise. I have no
additional information on the disposition of the documents.
GOLDSMITH AND PRESS CORRESPONDENCE, ETC: c1840-50
envs. (6) to Commander Goldsmith on HMS Sloop "Hyacinth" and HMS
"Wellesley" at Halifax & Devonport. 1847-53 covers (5) from
Yarmouth to Capt. Joseph Press of the schooner "Isis" at Exeter,
Tynemouth, Liverpool, London & Plymouth and another to the "Iolanthe"
at Bristol. Also 1845 EL from Hull to the barque "Sister" of
Hull at Falmouth. (15 items).
The definitive source of records of the cruise is the
log book of the HMS Wellesley for the period 1848 to 1851, which is
housed in the National Archives of Scotland (Record reference: GD233/85,
88; NRA catalog reference NRA 8150 Cochrane).
George was granted his step and promoted to 1st
Lieutenant May 27 1848 while aboard the Wellesley.
Lt. Bazalgette returned to Plymouth headquarters in
June 24 1851 where he remained until being shipped overseas via
HMS Calypso on September 17 1853. George’s records read “HMS
Calypso (per Mail Packet)” this is very similar to the citation in
Captain Delacombe’s records when he was dispatched to assume command of
San Juan in 1867 (“HMS Sutlej p Mail Packet”). From this, I conclude
that George was not assigned to HMS Calypso but conveyed by Calypso to
an unknown duty station. Since HMS Calypso (launched May 1845) was a
sixth rate (sloop), wood, sailing ship of 731 tons (20 Guns) they
probably did not require a 1st Lieutenant of Marines. A search of the
log books of HMS Calypso has failed to turn up details of this voyage.
Records show that HMS Calypso was assigned to the
south Pacific from 1846 through 1848. Mention of Calypso’s activities
resume in 1857 when the vessel was assigned the mission of investigating
Russian activities at the mouth of the Amur River. In 1858 she was sent
to the Fraser River in response to James Douglas’ frantic calls.
Calypso was not able to provide close support due to the lack of steam
motive power. In 1860 HMS Calypso was re-fit and rated to 18 guns.
Calypso’s assignment to the Pacific station may mean that George was
assigned to the Pacific 3 years prior to his China service.
George’s brother Evelyn joined the 95th Regiment of Foot (The
Derbyshires) as an Ensign. Evelyn carried the Derbyshire Colours in
the battle of Alma where he was twice wounded. The Colours were
eventually passed on to Private Keenan, an event still marked by the
regiment today. Another interesting sidelight to this incident is
that as a result of the high casualty rate among Colour bearers
during the Alma the British High Command forbade the carrying of
Regimental Colours into future battles.
Orders dated June 14 1855 reassigned George
to Plymouth where he remained until December 30 1856 when he was
HMS Impregnable, a second rate, wood hull, sailing vessel of
She carried 98 guns and was launched from
Chatham dockyard August 1 1810. HMS Impregnable was a near copy of
the HMS Victory and used by the Duke of Clarence (King William IV) as
his flag ship in 1812. In 1862, Impregnable was rated a training
ship. In 1888 Impregnable was renamed to HMS Kent, and then to HMS
Caledonia in 1891. I have no records of her eventual fate.
To War in China
On July 18 1857 Lt.
Bazalgette was ordered to return to Plymouth presumably in preparation
stationing to China. On August 10 1857 he was transferred to the
2nd Battalion Royal Marines Light Infantry (RMLI) and left the next day
for China aboard the
P. & O. Imperader. The Imperader was a steam transport ship
chartered by the British government from the Peninsular and Oriental
Steam Navigation Company.
After a record
setting journey of just 80 days the Imperader arrived in China
on October 28 1857. The 2nd Bt. was placed in the 1st Brigade
(Holloway’s Brigade) under the command of Colonel Thomas Holloway A. D. C.
the Brigade Major was Captain J. O. Travers Royal Marines. Colonel
Holloway’s Orderly officer was Captain Ellis. The allied British and
French land forces were under the command of Major-General Von
Straubenzee. Naval forces were under the command of Admiral Sir M.
Seymour. I have yet to discover to which company George was assigned so
I have tracked 1st Bn./2nd Bd. in this account.
The newly arrived
Marines from England were off loaded on the Wang-tong islands in the
Pearl River below the city. On December 15 1857 the 2nd Battalion was
moved to Honan Island, known for its profusion of voracious mosquitoes.
Honan Island is located in the Pearl River just off shore of Canton. It
is about 1½ miles wide and 4 to 5 miles long. Colonel Holloway assumed
command of the Marines. A magazine was quickly constructed to safely
contain all of the ammunition for the troops.
On December 20 a
divine service was held with most all of the men in attendance.
Reconnaissance patrols determined that the assault should come from the
Eastern side of the city. The Northeast and East gates and the Lin or
Northeast Fort would be the points of attack. On December 26 Chinese
Commissioner Yeh was informed that he had 48 hours to accede to British
demands, failure to do so would be greeted by a bombardment.
The men were in very
good health for the coming assault. The combination of cold weather,
which held down the mosquito population, and the availability of fresh
stocks of quinine resulted in only 15 sick men.
The attack was
planned for December 28. It would start when the ships Actaeon,
Phlegathon, and sundry gunboats opened fire on the Southwest angle of
the city walls; their object being to breach the walls and disrupt
communication. A second group of ships (Mitraille, Fuse, Cruiser,
Hornet, Niger, and Blanche) in concert with the Dutch Folly Fort would
shell the City walls opposite the Viceroy’s residence. A large mortar
installed in the Dutch Folly Fort was assigned to strike within the City
and an area known as the Gough heights. The third group of warships
(Nimrod, Surprise, Dragon, Marcia, and assorted gunboats) was assigned
to shell the Southeast angle of the New and Old city walls and the east
city walls. The bombardment was very slow and continued all day and all
night. Each gun in the first two groups was limited to firing 60 rounds
in the first 24 hours. The guns of the third group were allowed to fire
up to 100 rounds in the same period of time.
At first light on
December 29 the troops were to land at Kupur. The plan called for the
British Naval Brigade to be deployed on the right, Lieutenant-Colonel
Lemon’s Marines, the 59th Regiment, the Royal Artillery, and the Royal
Engineers to be deployed in the center, and the French Naval Brigade to
be deployed on the left. Colonel Holloway’s Marines would remain in
A significantly low
tide delayed the landing of the force however all were in position by
nightfall. At 10 am on the 28th the French moved forward to occupy
their position where they experienced hostile fire. The 59th moved into
position next to them to protect their flank as French forces drove the
Chinese from the undulating ground in front of their position. During
this action the French force experienced some difficulty maneuvering
owing to the swampy nature of the paddy fields and the large number of
graves on the higher ground.
Under cover of
British howitzer fire the 59th moved to the Joss house, within 300 yards
of the walls of the Lin Fort. A 9 pr. field gun was brought up and put
into action battering the walls of the Lin Fort. Allied forces
partially surrounded the Fort and the Chinese fled up hill to Gough’s
Fort out of range of the heavy guns. This action allowed British and
French troops to bivouac within the walled city.
In the morning troops
were formed up for the assault on Canton, the French Naval Brigade was
positioned on the direct road to the East gate, the 59th to the rear
under the walls of the Lin Fort, and the provisional RMLI battalion to
the right on a range of hills fronting the NNW as if to advance on
Gough’s Fort. The 3rd division of the Naval Brigade was placed to the
rear and to the right of Joss house. One battalion of Col. Holloway’s
RMLI was deployed to the left and the other guarding the landing site
and the ammunition depot. The artillery was positioned in front of the
Positioning of the
3rd division served to decoy the Chinese commander into thinking that
the target of the assault was Fort Gough. The Chinese commander shifted
his forces to counter this feint. When it was perceived that the threat
to Fort Gough was a ruse these troops moved to intercept the assault by
attacking the flank. Colonel Lemon’s troops were required to repulse
this attempt and to hold the flank, which they did so well that it was
difficult for the officers to restrain the men’s enthusiasm and call
them back to their positions guarding the flank of the assault.
The guns opened fire
on the East wall of Canton to clear the defenders. Their fire was to
stop at 9 when the assault was to start. However, the French got off 20
minutes early and it was only by the quick action of Major Schomberg
that the fire stopped before any French sailors were struck. The
assault was successful on the wall about ½ mile North of the East gate.
There the attackers turned north and cleared the walls. The assault by
the provisional brigade on the wall near the northeast gate was
successful about 200 yards south of the Northeast gate.
During the assault a
squadron of Chinese cavalry (Tartars) attacked Holloway’s Marines. They
were driven off but Colonel Holloway was wounded in the skirmish. The
Marines dropped their packs and charged after the Chinese but were
quickly recalled by the General.
By 9 A.M. the
majority of the attacking forces were on the walls of Canton and Chinese
resistance was crumbling. The Naval Brigade and the Royal Marines
advanced to the North gate where resistance was stiff. A swift charge
by the Naval Brigade put the Chinese to rout. Brigadier Graham with the
59th and 38th Native Infantry took the East gate and proceeded around
the walls nearly to the South gate of the City.
About 2 pm Gough’s
Fort was assaulted and taken. In expectation of a counter-assault
British troops remained on the walls of the City for the next 3 or 4
rainy days. The exposure resulted in a great deal of sickness.
After the battle
Gough’s and Bluejacket’s Forts were destroyed without effect on the
Chinese. The British/French forces paused to allow the Chinese to
surrender, which they failed to do. On January 5 operations were
resumed. Elements of the Naval Brigade advanced on the Yamen and
captured the Tartar general. Two companies of the 1st RMLI with 2
howitzers forced their way into the Yamen of the Governor of Kwang Tung
and took him prisoner. The provisional Battalion with 2 guns marched to
the Temple where it was rumored that the Imperial Commissioner was
hiding. They did not find Yeh but they did find a considerable quantity
Commissioner Yeh was captured by the Naval Brigade later in the day.
Since Yeh remained recalcitrant he was eventually sent to India.
Administration of the city was conducted by a council consisting of the
Governor Pek-Wei, Col. Holloway, Capt. Martineau, and Mr. Parkes
Casualties in the
Royal Marine Artillery were Col. Holloway, 1 Sergeant, and 2 Gunners
wounded, Colonel Lemon’s Provisional Battalion had 10 wounded, 1st RMLI
Lieutenant Portlock-Dadson severely wounded and 1 Sergeant and 2
After this action the
2nd Bt. was quartered in the monastery of Celestial Bliss. On a day
when all the senior officers were out on a reconnaissance, a Chinese
priest presented an order from General Von Straubenzee allowing him to
recover personal property. Under this authority he carried off an
unknown amount of treasure that had been hidden in the idols prior to
the assault. Given that the priest was in possession of an order from
the commander the guards were powerless to stop him.
Supplement, April 10,
ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS
THE WAR IN CHINA
(Top picture caption: Officer's quarters,
provisional battalion Royal Marines on the walls of Canton.
Bottom picture caption: The old landing place, Canton.)
The cozy quarters of the officers of the Provisional
battalion of Royal Marines given above were perched on the
walls of Canton. It was here that our Artist spent a
few days and nights, as he says, "very picturesquely."
The Old Landing-place, Canton, with its Babel-like
confusion , is then described by the Times
correspondent:--"The point is where
a shallow streamlet or drain falls into the river, about a
mile to the east of the south-eastern corner of the city
wall. Suburban water-side hovels once covered the area
upon which the promiscuous crowd now raging, and shooting,
and pushing, and struggling; but those hovels are now only
heaps of rubbish. Twenty or thirty ships' boats have
their bows against the bard: the Commissariat lords, the
General's chop-boat (which in the confusion was once seized
upon by a French ship-of-war and taken down the river),
several gun-boats, and the Commissariat lie off the river.
Packages innumerable, baggage and bales, barrels and cases,
munitions of war and munitions for the stomach, are piled
about in mountains . . . . Everybody wants and escort, and
everybody wants a troop of coolies. Oh those patient,
lusty, enduring coolies! It was a valuable legacy
which Colonel Wetherall left us, that Coolie Corps.
They carried the ammunition on the day of the assault close
up to the rear of our columns, and when a cannon shot took
off the head of one of them the others only cried "Ey yaw!"
and laughed, and worked away as merrily as ever . . . .
The French are already passing in strong bodies, carrying
up their heavy baggage to the front. Ever and anon
some gaping Chinaman is urged by curiosity to approach the
crowd. Quick as lightning Johnny Frenchman seizes him
by the ear, pops the end of a bamboo pole upon his shoulder,
gives him a kick in the rear, and makes him trot off, a
pressed porter, amid the jeers of our Commissariat coolies.
When a long pile of baggage-carriers has been formed an
escort is given and away they go through the dangerous
débris of wrecked houses which intervene between the
landing-place and the East-gate." A new landing has been
made at the south-east point of the city by Capt. Hall,
which, by way of compliment to that energetic officer, is
called Hall's terrace.
On June 2 1858 troops
under the personal direction of Major-General Van Straubenzee conducted
a reconnaissance of the White Cloud Mountain where Chinese forces had
been reported. They discovered an encampment and applied for
reinforcements. By 7 p.m. 1400 men had started to the area. Among
these reinforcements was Col. Holloway with a force of about 600 Marines
and 100 men of the 59th with 4 guns. An additional force consisting of
the Naval Brigade, Royal Artillery, and the 2nd Sepoys, embarked in
gunboats and traveled down river landing the next morning.
The advance began at
daybreak however it was soon found that only the two Royal Marine
Artillery rocket tubes could accompany them. At 11 am the enemy camp
was sighted and the advance guard pushed on, 3 officers and 8 men being
wounded. Due to the great heat the troops halted until the evening.
The Marines occupied a village in which they were able to shelter. When
the force was able to advance again they crossed the 1200 foot mountain,
but found the Chinese camp deserted.
They returned to
Canton on the 4th, having burnt 3 villages in the campaign. The force
suffered Lieutenant Rokeby and 26 men were wounded, and many men
incapacitated by sunstroke. The following men were mentioned in the
London Gazette: B. Major R. Boyle, Lieutenants G. McCallum, W.H.
Clements, H.H. Norton (Atr.), H.B. Savage (Atr.), 2nd Lieutenants W.W.
Allnutt, and H.T. Cooper. It is likely that Lt. H.T. Cooper is the same
Henry Cooper who accompanied George to San Juan Island in 1859.
In August George was
sent with another expedition to the walled town of Nantow. They
proceeded by water in gunboats and landed at 11 a.m. on the 10th, to the
southwest of the city, the covering party being provided by the Naval
Brigade. This entailed an advance through a populous suburb. The
advance was made in two parallel columns; 40 officers and 289 Naval
Brigade formed the outer column; 3 officers and 64 men Royal Artillery,
3 officers and 22 men Royal Engineers, 5 officers and 104 men 104th
Regiment, 2 officers and 100 men from the 12th Native Infantry, 5
officers and 140 men RMLI forming the inner column. The RMLI troops
under Captain Foote were held in reserve. They moved along the canal in
great heat under constant fire from the right flank.
reconnaissance, ladders were placed and the Naval Brigade stormed the
walls, covered by the 59th and the 12th Native Infantry, whilst the
Royal Marines covered the right flank. During the escalade of the walls
“the force under Colonel Graham was attacked by several hundred Braves
who were most gallantly repulsed by Battalion Major Foote and the Royal
Marines” though not without loss. The wall was gained and the enemy
fled. The gate was blown in and after burning the city they returned to
Canton the following morning. Unfortunately 3 officers were killed by
the accidental discharge of the seamen’s rifles.
George was promoted
to Captain August 11 1858 perhaps due to losses incurred during the
fighting. The Royal Marines lost 8 wounded, one mortally. On 23rd
August Lieutenant-Colonel Walsh was invalided, and on October 1st
Colonel Lemon assumed command of the 1st RMLI.
After recovering from the wounds he suffered in
the Crimea, George’s brother Evelyn rejoined the 95th as a Captain.
In India, the 95th Regiment of foot assaulted mutinous Sepoys in the
city of Kotah on March 30 1858. Evelyn was wounded during the
assault. He was blown up when something went terribly wrong as a
detachment from the 95th was attempting to destroy a Sepoy
magazine. The resulting explosion was so loud and the blast so
intense that Mrs. Fanny Duberly who was still more than a mile from
the city wrote of hearing the explosion and feeling the ground
shake. Evelyn died on April 1 1858. The same Colours stained with
the blood he shed at the Alma were used to drape his casket at the
burial ceremony. The 95th Regiment has honored his memory by having
his name etched in the memorial stone at their headquarters.
On November 27 1858 Captain Bazalgette, 6 officers (Captain Thomas Magin,
Lieutenants; G.L. Owen, R.P. Henry, G.L. Blake, E.C. Sparshott, and
H.T.M. Cooper), and 80 men were transferred to British Columbia. They
made the voyage in the HMS Tribune under the command of Geoffrey Phipps
Hornby. The men of the BC contingent were all volunteers probably lured
to the colonies for the extra colonial pay. The trip to BC was a
disaster. It took 33 days just to reach Nagasaki Japan, where they
spend 17 days refitting. Another 6 weeks were required to cross the
Pacific and arrive at Esquimault Harbor.
Upon arrival the Marines were moved to land bases and assigned duties
under the direction of Colonel Moody of the Royal Engineers.
In the colonies the
Marines assumed the duty of guarding the road building activities,
training the militia, and garrisoning San Juan Island.
Having arrived in British
Columbia with the Volunteer Marines from China, Captain Bazalgette.
Though Major Magin RMLI, was the commander of the Marine Detachment, they
himself under the overall command of Colonel RC Moody, commanding the RE
Columbia Detachment. Colonel Moody, as Commander of Land Forces,
initially used the RMLI officers in the Colony for reconnaissance
missions. Bazalgette was sent out with a Royal Marine Artillery Officer,
Lt. Blake (who also worked as Moody's Aide-de-camp until the official
arrival of the Columbia Detachment).
Marine Camp, Queenborough,
the honour to inform you that according to your order, I
proceeded last Monday in charge of an exploration expedition
consisting of Captain Bazalgette, RM, one Private, RM, and three
Indians with rations for five days for the purpose of
ascertaining the relative position of Burrard Inlet with regard
The route I pursued for the purpose of affecting this was
by the small River Brunette to Burnaby Lake, making the latter
my Head Quarters.
distance from Queenborough to the lake I ascertained to be by
the River about 6 miles. The river is exceedingly tortuous in
its course, and its stage at the time that I proceeded up it was
very low, but perfectly navigable for small canoes the portages
owing to the fallen timber are numerous; but these obstacles
might easily be removed.
Lake is two miles and a half in length by one in breadth and the
deepest part that I could find, I sounded at two fathoms, its
entire shores are also very swampy – its bearing is N.70 W.
from where the Brunette running to the Fraser flows out of it
– and is about N.70 W. of Queenborough. On the Second day I
despatched Captain Bazalgette R.M., to reconnoiter the head of
the lake and he discovered a river which he followed up on a
Westerly course for 3 miles (Still Creek).
river runs into a lake but with an almost imperceptible motion,
it is also much deeper than any other part of the latter that I
sounded. Its average depth being three fathoms, it also winds in
small turns of every fifty of sixty yards but its general
bearing is West, its shores are swampy and covered with alder,
its general appearance might be likened to a Canal.
the same day I started with an Indian and two days provisions
and took a course due North from the eastern point of the lake
over a Mountain 600 feet above the level of the sea – covered
with dense forest – on reaching the summit I found Burrards
Inlet to be immediately beneath it on the opposite side
branching off into two arms the Southern most one of which bore
to the eastward and appeared to terminate within a short
distance. The Northern most one hugging the base of the opposite
high range of mountains was shut out from any observation. The
mountain I ascended had an exceedingly steep descent to the
Northward the breadth of the inlet was at the broadest part two
miles: observing on this occasion that the mountain a short
distance from where I had crossed it terminated abruptly to the
Eastward and that a comparatively cleared valley about a mile in
width skirted it in the direction of the Inlet, I devoted my
third day to endeavouring to find out the nearest and most
direct point from the latter to Queenborough and by returning
about a mile and a quarter down the river Brunette from the
Lake, I entered the valley and found it lead over a perfectly
level and nearly cleared Country direct to the termination of
the Southernmost branch of the inlet the distance from River to
the latter being about two and a half miles and I compute the
distance that exists between that part of the river and
Queenborough to be about three miles in a direct line this would
make the nearest point of the Inlet five and a half miles from
the fourth day I tried to get up the River at the head of the
Lake further than Captain Bazalgette had been but after three
miles the snags were so numerous from the fallen trees that I
found the labour of getting the Canoe over
great to proceed much further than he had already been the depth
of the River continued the same at this point – it also flows
through a perfectly unbroken valley which heads due West to
Burrard Inlet. From the head of the lake and the distance across
the former I should say
to be about eight miles.
have the Honour to be
Most Obedient Servant
Having returned from this rather arduous
Duty of exploration, Bazalgette, who appears to not have had Leave for
some time, requests Leave from Colonel Moody.
Queenborough, 2nd May 1859
"...obliged to postpone Leave which
Captain Bazalgette solicits there being insufficient Officers for
District Court Martial..."
The RE and the RMLI begin
to work together during the Spring of 1859 on various Public Works
projects in New Westminster. When the Queen's
Birthday celebrations occurred in Queenborough, the two units planned
and organized the event.
The British Colonist, 30 May 1859
The Celebration of the
Anniversary of Her Majesty’s Birthday at Queenborough
24th of May was a day of general rejoicing and
festivity in Queenborough, the capital of British Columbia, in
honour of the anniversary of Her Majesty’s birth, and what
rendered the day so peculiarly interesting was its being the
first time Her Majesty’s subjects in this distant part of the
world have had an opportunity of expressing their loyalty and
devotion to their beloved Sovereign. The sports and games went
off with éclat, amid the applause of a large concourse of
people. The weather lowered opinions at the dawn of the day, but
changed towards noon to one of those bright, sunny days, which
are so well known in dear old England as “Queen’s days”.
To the stroke of time, the bugle summoned the troops of
the garrison to the place of rendezvous, whilst loud hurrahs
followed in their wake, giving to the parade ground of the North
Camp, a very animated appearance, which was moreover graced by
the attendance of Mrs. Moody, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Spaulding and
others of the fair sex.
The troops were drawn up in line at 11:30. A field piece
manned by the blue jackets of Her Majesty’s Ship Plumper,
which ship, by the way, had been gaily dressed in flags,
occupied the extreme right. The Royal Engineers on the left
under the command of Captain Grant. The Royal marine light
Infantry on the left under the command of Captain Bazalgette,
R.M.L.I., Major Magin having been unfortunately indisposed. The
Lieutenant Governor Colonel Moody, R.E., and staff, having
inspected the troops, a Royal Salute of 21 guns was fired at
noon, accompanied by a feu-de-joie from the forces. He then
addressed the troops in very feeling and soldier-like terms,
after which, the national Anthem was sung by all present in a
strain that filled many with emotion.
Some time after the Queen's Celebrations
on the 24th of May, 1859, Bazalgette at last receives his Leave. Upon
his return -
"...Captain Bazalgette RMLI, returns from Sick Leave
today and takes up command of the Detachment of Royal Marines at
Port Douglas at work upon the Road..."
- letter from Captain Luard, RE
Captain Bazalgette and his
Marines work on the Douglas-Lilooet road from the 18th of June until the
1st August of 1859.
During their first
year in the colonies there was a constant battle to get the colonial pay
that they were promised in China. Many letters were exchanged between
the command and the Admiralty asking that such pay be remitted.
The essence of the
boundary dispute was a disagreement over where the last piece of the
southern Canadian border should lie.
The Oregon Treaty of 1846 established the 49th parallel as the boundary
between the two countries. It stated that the boundary should run from
the crest of the Rocky Mountains along “the forty-ninth parallel of
north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the
continent from Vancouver’s Island; and thence southerly through the
middle of the said channel, and of Fuca’s Straits to the Pacific
Ocean…”. The writers of the treaty were unaware that multiple channels
satisfy that description. The western-most channel is Haro Strait,
while the eastern-most channel is Rosario Strait. The British claimed
that the Oregon treaty referred to Rosario Strait while the Americans
claimed that it referred to Haro Strait.
To strengthen British
claims to the islands the HBC established a fishing camp on San Juan
Island in 1850. In 1853 this was expanded into a sheep ranching
operation. In 1854 the Americans included San Juan Island in Whatcom
County, Washington Territory. The ground was laid for a potentially
The British Admiralty
assigned HMS Plumper under the command of Captain George H. Richards and
HMS Sattelite under the command of James C. Prevost to survey both the
straits. Prevost also acted as Commissioner in the boundary dispute.
The difficulties in
negotiating a settlement to the boundary dispute between the United
States and Great Brittan were as much an issue of personalities as
policy. The American General W. S. Harney and the B.C. Governor James
Douglas were both excitable men given to irrational outbursts.
Those Marines that
participated in the aborted re-invasion of San Juan Island soon found
themselves back in Victoria. Some of the enlisted men were soon
transferred onto men-of-war in the Pacific Squadron. many, including the
officers whiled their time away in Victoria at their barracks at the
Colonial Offices on the site of the present day Provincial Parliament
The October Race meeting of
Victoria, came off on Thursday last, on the race course at Beacon Hill.
Although the threatening aspect of the weather in the morning may have
deterred numbers from attending, yet the concourse of people was both
numerous and respectable. The plentiful sprinkling of Marines and
men-of-War men gave an animated and pleasing appearance to the scene.
The ground was in beautiful condition, and although the horses could
scarcely merit the title 'racers' yet their general appearance, with one
or two exceptions, was credible. The first race, which was the Queen's
Plate, for a purse of $129, weight to stone - heats - commenced about 1
The following horses were
entered:- Mr. Skinner's "Red Fern", Mr. Parker's "Moustache", Captain
Henry's "Old Rake", Captain Bazalgette's "Badger", Mr. Wallace's
"White Stocking" but only "Red Fern" and "Moustache" took the field. The
latter, however, distancing his competitor, won in a heat.
--1st November, 1859 - The New
It was agreed by both
countries that Britain would station 100 Marines on San Juan Island.
George was given command of the detachment.
Royal Marines, Commanding the Detachment
Landed on the Island of San Juan:
The object of placing you there is for the protection of
British interests, and to form a joint military occupation
with the troops of the United States. As the sovereignty of
the island is still in dispute between the two Governments,
you will on no account whatever interfere with the citizens of
the United States, but should any offense be committed by such
citizens which you may think it advisable to notice you will
send a report of it immediately to Captain Hunt, or officer
commanding the U.S. troops. American citizens have equal
rights with British subjects on the island. Should the officer
commanding the U.S. troops bring to your notice offenses
committed by any of Her Majesty's subjects you will use your
best judgment in dealing with the case, and I authorize you,
if you deem it necessary, to send them off the island by the
first opportunity. If any doubts arise as to the nationality
of an offender you will not [decide] in the case before you
have consulted with the U.S. commanding officer, and not even
then unless your opinions coincide. You will place yourself in
frank and free communication with the commanding officer of
the U.S. troops, bearing in mind how essential it is for the
public service that the most perfect and cordial understanding
should exist between you, which I have every reason to feel
assured you will at all times find Captain Hunt ready and
anxious to maintain.
Rear-Admiral and Commander-in-Chief
Since Bazalgette was
given command of the garrison at San Juan Island, Major Magin, being
the senior officer, must have turned it down. It is interesting to
speculate why. A search of his records might provide some indication.
Unfortunately there is a single record matching the string “Magin” in
the BC Archives call number GR-1372.
The Detachment were landed from
HMS Satellite on March 21 1860.
They brought along the necessary materials to erect the first building,
a commissary. Bazalgette
also placed an requisition, when they arrived,
tin pannikins, 36 tin plates, 3 'dishes', 10 camp kettles, 18 lanterns,
1 measures set and a small quantity of stationary."
command consisted of:-
1 Assistant Surgeon
83 Other Ranks
clearing the shore of its thick growth of trees, they erected the
commissary and planted a small garden. Barracks, Cooking houses and
other vital structures were all erected, especially after the visit in
June 1860, of Rear Admiral Robert Lambert-Baynes, who declared extra pay
for the men to prepare the camp for winter.
In the summer of 1861, a
Volunteer Rifle movement started in Victoria. The RMLI from the Garrison
were sent out to assisst.
Victoria Rifle Volunteers will commence drill today, at the barracks
formerly occupied by Capt. Bazalgette's company, James Bay. Hours of
drill from 6 to 8 am, and from 6 to 8 pm, daily, until further orders.
An order from Lt. Col. Foster, will be found among our advertisements.
It is understood that the drill serjeants provided by Admiral Maitland
will take up their quarters permanently at the barracks. We are very
glad to learn that a movement for placing the corps on an efficient
footing has at length been made, and trust and believe that there will
be no shirking of duty on the part of the members.
July, 1861 - The Daily British Colonist
The photograph below, of
George Bazalgette and C. W. Wallace comes from a Tolmie family photo
album. Charles W. Wallace married Catharine Work. It is likely
that George and Charles were acquainted through the local militia which
the RMLI was training.
There is some
discussion over the pronunciation for the Bazalgette family name.
My current preference is “Basil (as in Rathbone) jate” this is
based upon a name written across a contemporary photograph from
the British Columbia Provincial Archives. The inscription reads
“Capt. Basiljate + C.W. Wallace”.
I assume that the individual that inscribed the photograph was not
one of George’s close friends and wrote the name phonetically.
In 1862 the Royal
Marines stationed at San Juan were carried on the victualling list of
April 16 1862, Captain Lyman Bissell of the US 9th Infantry at Camp
Pickett, sent a letter to Major R. C. Drum, Asst. Adjutant-General in San
It referenced to a meeting with residents of San Juan Island forming a
committee to regulate their land claims until sovereignty of the island
could be established.
He recognized the name of some of them namely:- Higgins - the postmaster, who made his living from selling liquor to
soldiers and Indians and Offutt, secretary to the meeting, who also made
a living selling whiskey. Higgins claimed that he only sold it to his
men and they in turn sold it to the Indians.
"The San Juan difficulty still remains unsolved and three Marine Officers that I know have been wasting their
existence there for three years and still no prospect of relief".
-- Lt. Anderson RE, 2nd May 1862
In the Autumn of 1862 Hibbard , another of the residents at the meeting,
tried to stir up trouble between the British and American forces on the
island by writing a dictatorial letter to Captain Bazalgette because
Bazalgette had ordered two of his Marines out of his camp that were
there for the purpose of selling whiskey to his men.
On August 15th
1862 Bazalgette made an official complaint against a man called Andrews
who had a claim about one mile from the English Camp. The Indians
reported to him that Andrews had disposed of a large amount of whiskey
to them the evening before and that one of their number had been
Bissell and Lieutenant Cooper RMLI, together with a NCO went to
the Indian camp and found this to be true. The chief had three men who
could identify "Bill" as Andrews was known to them and sent
them with Bissell. They found him in a lime kiln with Hibbard. The
Indians recognized Andrews straight away as the man who sold them the
whiskey. Bissell knowing that to get a conviction against Andrews,
ordered him to leave the island, he also notified the criminal element
that they also had 24 hours to leave the island, on the expiration of
the time they would be placed in charge of the guard.
Much of the
above information was taken from:
One of the RMLI
the name of George Hughes went AWOL. He reappeared in the American
ranks in December of 1866. After seeking the advice of Navy Captain Oldfield, the senior officer at Esquimault, George drafted a letter to
Captain Thomas Grey, commander of the American forces on San Juan
Island, demanding his return. Captain Grey declined to comply and both
letters made their way through the chain of review to their respective
governments. The political desire for peaceful joint occupation was so
strong that Richard Temple-Grenville, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos
and Lord President of the Privy Council directed the Admiralty to ensure
that a similar event never occurred. Being brought to the attention of
the Admiralty in this manner effectively ended George’s career in the
was relieved of command of the San Juan garrison on July 24 1867. He
returned to Plymouth for another three years. On February 22 1870,
after 23 years of service, he retired from active duty in the RMLI.
This didn’t stop him from accepting a position at the recruiting station
in Exeter on April 15 1867. In June 1870 he married Louisa Seville (b.
Feb. 1835) in Marylebone near where their families lived.
Interestingly, after their marriage Louisa Seville used the name Louise
Bazalgette on legal documents. Perhaps this was done to avoid name
confusion with George’s sister Louisa.
Vessels upon which George Bazalgette, RMLI
01/48 - 06/51
09/53 - 07/55
12/56 - 07/57
08/57 - 11/58
11/58 - 07/67
|The Bazalgette Home on Upper
Glouster Road, Marylebone, London
George continued at
the recruiting station until April 15 1872 when he asked to be placed on
the retired list. He was granted an honorary Majority June 26 1872. We
can only speculate why.
I, George Bazalgette, a major in
Her Majesty's Service, declare this is my last Will and Testament.
I give all my estate and
effects whatsoever and wheresoever, to my wife Louise, for her own uses
and benefit and I appoint her Executrix of this my Will. I witness
whereof I have herewithin signed my name this nineteenth day of June A.D.
one thousand eight hundred and eighty five, - Geo: Bazalgette -
Signed and published by the
above named as his Will in the joint presence who in his presence and in
the presence of each other have hereunto signed our names as witnesses
- Evelyn Bazalgette, 14
Devonshire Place, W.
- Janet Duncan, 52 Upper Gloucester Place.
On the 29th Day of September 1885 Probate of this Will was granted to
Louisa Bazalgette, widow, the sole Executrix.
Kensal Green Cemetery
- Plot 29852
- Grave 6' 6" at 8 ' Depth.
Reserve 78/3 2' 6" at 8' depth. Granted 26 Aug 1885 for 5
shillings to Evelyn Bazalgette of 14 Devonshire Place Cavendish Square.
Notation to it:
Buried George Bazalette 1885 29th Aug
Removed to plot 32071 1st May 1890
Louisa and George Bazalgette
Kensal Green Cemetery
- Plot 32071
- Grave Size 9' at 7 ' Depth.
Reserve 64/p.s. 4' at 7' depth. Granted 29 April 1890 for 15
15 shillings nr. 29852 exhumed by order to Louise Bazalgette of 5
Bryanston St., Marylebone.
George Bazalgette 1885
Remains from nr. 29852 1 May 1890
Louise Bazalgette 1918 13th March
Probate of the above granted 17th of April 1918 to Mary Russell (widow
sister of deceased)
At the time of his death
George’s personal estate amounted to £284 3s. 11d. His will was
executed by Louise September 20 1885 “The will of George Bazalgette late
of 52 Upper-Gloucester-place Dorset-square in the County of Middlesex a
Major in Her majesty’s Army who died 24 August 1885 at 52
Upper-Gloucester-place was proved at the Principal Registry by Louise
Bazalgette of 25 Dorset-square Widow the Relict the sole Executrix”.
|According to cemetery personnel, George
Bazelgette's headstone is somewhere in the above photograph.
As he had no children, and no local relatives to maintain his
gravesite, time and the elements have made identifying his
George was buried in grave
29852 of the
Kensal Green Cemetery. At Louise’s request his casket was
transferred to from grave 29852 to grave 32071 on May 1 1890. Louise
was buried with him in this plot March 13 1918.
George and Louisa had no
descendants. However descendants of their cousin have collected some
genealogical records that include them.
What are the names of the Captains of the ships on which Capt
How many Marines were assigned to Royal Navy Ships? How many
How concerned was George with his trade? Did he consider
knowledge of battle tactics and strategy as important to his
How did he view the assignment to San Juan? How did he see it in
relation to his career?
If you know the answer to any of these questions,
drop us a line, or
sign our Guest Registry
Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the cleansing of the
Victorian Metropolis. Stephen Halliday 1999
claims of Sir H.E. Blumberg P&O disclaims ownership of any ship
named either Imperador or Imperader.
of the China Campaigns taken from: History of the Royal Marines
1837 – 1914 General Sir H.E. Blumberg K.C.B., RM. Royal Marines
||The Royal Navy
and the Northwest Coast of North America 1810-1914. Barry M.
the “Morning Post” August 28 1885.
||Records of the
Kensal Green Cemetary.
communication with Mr. Charles Bazalgette of Toronto(?) CA.