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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/14

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6
F. W. Howay

Captain Barkley's Voyage in the Imperial Eagle.

The first of the fur-trading vessels of which I wish to speak is the Imperial Eagle. Her voyage is interesting for three reasons; first, the vessel herself was the Loudoun, her name being changed when she was placed under the Austrian flag, in order to avoid the monopoly of the East India Company; second, her captain Charles William Barkley was the real discoverer of the strait of Juan de Fuca; and third, his wife Frances Hornby Barkley was the first white woman to visit this part of our coast and to see the strait of Fuca.

As I have already mentioned, the original name of the Imperial Eagle was the Loudoun. She was a fine merchant vessel of 400 tons, ship-rigged and mounting twenty guns. Captain George Dixon of the Queen Charlotte describes her as "a good-sailing, coppered vessel."

At that time, indeed up till 1833, the East India Company, which was practically an arm of the British Government, had a monoply of trade in the South Seas, in which term this coast was included. That monoply, originally created by Queen Elizabeth and repeatedly confirmed by Parliament under succeeding monarchs, was of course, only effective as against British vessels and British subjects. To avoid it, the owners of the Loudoun, who were themselves British, and in the employ of the East India Company, hit upon the idea of changing the vessel from the British to the Austrian flag. I may add, parenthetically, that the vessel was not owned by the Austrian East India Company as is often stated. Indeed, there was no such company in existence.

The change of flag and of name was accomplished at Ostend in Belgium, where the vessel remained some eight weeks, fitting out for the voyage. Captain Barkley, a young man of twenty-seven years, who was in command, found time in this interval to cultivate the acquaintance of Miss Frances Hornby Trevor, the seventeen-year-old daughter of an English clergyman residing there. So successful was he, that the couple were