Lambert Baynes

color drawing of a distinguished looking man in a naval uniform with large epaulettes
Admiral Lambert Baynes was crucial to keeping the peace during The Pig War

Quick Facts
Baynes Sound, BC, Canada
Admiral Sir Robert Lambert Baynes arrived in his flagship, the HMS Ganges, in the waters surrounding San Juan Island on August 5, 1859. Largely due to Baynes keeping the peace, the only casualty of the Pig War was the pig.

He was in his sixties when he arrived and had already seen his fair share of fighting. Baynes’s extensive military career included the Greek War of Independence, Crimean War, and the War of 1812.

Because of these previous successes out at sea, in 1857 he was appointed Commander in Chief of England’s Pacific Station. When the Fraser River Gold Rush began in the spring of 1858, at least 20,000 Americans flooded into British Columbia, greatly outnumbering the British settlers. Governor James Douglas was concerned about the possibility that they would challenge British sovereignty and requested additional military forces to keep British Columbia British. Baynes and the Royal Marines under his command were expected to enforce rules and Britain’s agenda. Baynes was stationed in Peru when he was called up to San Juan Island.By 1859, Baynes preferred top hats, fancy bow ties, and humor instead of conflict. An employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company described him as, “plain, little, big-hearted, unassuming, lowland Scotsman, lame but full of salt and fresh fun.”

When the pig crisis was first brought to his attention, Baynes is reported to have said “tut, tut, no, no, the damn fools.” He recognized right away that this disagreement was not worth a war. He ordered Capt. Geoffrey Hornby to avoid interacting with the American army and “by every means in your power… prevent the risk of collision taking place.” Despite push back on this decision, Baynes remained steadfast and kept peace on San Juan Island. In April of 1860, he was knighted for his commitment to a calm resolution to the conflict. The Baynes Sound in British Columbia (appropriately located near Hornby Island, named after Captain Geoffrey Hornby who helped Baynes keep the peace in the San Juan) and the town of Ganges, British Columbia honor his local legacy.

San Juan Island National Historical Park

Last updated: August 7, 2022