William Robert Broughton (1762–1821) was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in command of HMS Chatham, part of Captain George Vancouver’s Expedition. In October 1792, while exploring the Pacific Northwest of the North American continent, he was ordered to investigate the lower Columbia, between present-day Oregon and Washington. With several of the Chatham’s boats, Broughton and his party navigated upriver as far as the Columbia River Gorge. On October 30, he reached his farthest point up the Columbia, landing in eastern Multnomah County east of Portland and northwest of Mount Hood.
Late in 1792, Vancouver’s negotiations with Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra were stymied by conflicting instructions in resolving the Nootka Sound Crisis. Vancouver sent Broughton back to England via Mexico and the Atlantic, bearing dispatches and requesting instructions.
In 1793, Broughton was promoted to commander and later given command of HMS Providence, a ship formerly commanded by Captain William Bligh. In February 1795 he left England for the Pacific to assist Vancouver. Correctly determining that Vancouver had returned to England having completed his survey, Broughton crossed to Japan.
Broughton died in Florence, Italy in 1821, and is buried in the Old English Cemetery, Livorno.