Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Richard Herbert Bray Carruthers-Zurowski writes:

Signature #1478 said...Many thanks for this [petition]. It is an excellent cause and one very dear to my heart. My parents both served King, Dominion, and Empire in World War II: my late father in the R.C.A.F., and my mother, now 81, in the W.R.C.N.S. Indeed, on my mother's side, my naval link goes back in Canada to the Royal Navy. My earliest forebears in Canada arrived in British North America from England in the senior service. My maternal grandmother's maternal grandfather, William Bray, J.P., R.N., (1814-1882), was a gunnery officer who arrived with the Royal Navy fleet despatched from Portsmouth to help put down the unpopular Upper Canada rebellion. Indeed, his full-page obituary in the "Petrolea Advertiser", the newspaper of the first place where petroleum was found in North America, now called Petrolia [sic], Ontario, includes information that his old naval friend Capt. Blaine related detailing the fact that my great-great grandfather volunteered for service on the Great Lakes and at one crucial point served aboard the seconded steamship "Traveller".

Sitting off what is now Prescott, Ontario, opposite the enemy's munitions store, the stone windmill, at what is now designated The Battle of the Windmill, where the last rebels were gathered with their powder, etc., William Bray, aged 22, fired the salvo into the enemy weapons dump and blew it to smithereens, which put paid to the rebels' last stand and effectively ended the Upper Canada rebellion.

The War of 1812 has its heroes including HRH The Duchess of Cornwall's forebear, Sir Allan Napier MacNab, Bt, later Prime Minister of the United Canadas before Confederation, while those of the Upper Canada rebellion include, I suppose, my largely unsung Royal Navy forebear William Bray.

Bray was later put in charge of the naval storehouse at Kingston on Lake Ontario, where his commanding officer, Capt. (later Admiral Sir) Williams Sandom, had him arrested for pecculation from the stores. Bray sued for false arrest and a young Upper Canadian barrister, John Alexander Macdonald, of Kingston, defended him by championing the supremacy of the English Common Law over Royal Navy rules and regulations. The man who was later to become the Dominion of Canada's first PM, Sir John A. Macdonald, won my ancestor £50 in damages and a completely clean record. Bray left the Royal Navy and elected to stay on in Upper Canada where he was married in 1839 at St George's Kingston (now the Cathedral of the Anglican diocese of Ontario) to Eliza Jane, younger daughter of John Lang (1790-1855), late of HM Dockyard Plymouth, and of Point Frederick, the Royal Navy Dockyard at Kingston, U.C. (Lang later served as Timber Master to the Rt Hon. Stephen Moore, 3rd Earl of Mount Cashel, colonial emigration promoter, in his project to log off Amherst Island in Lake Ontario). The young couple were married by the Rev. George Okill Stuart, Archdeacon of Kingston, son of the first Anglican missionary in Upper Canada, the Rev. Dr John Stuart, U.E., first rector of St George's, Kingston, another ancestor of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who arrived from Pennsylvania as a United Empire Loyalist.

Bray went on to a career as a chemist and druggist in Adelaide, Upper Canada/Canada West, and Petrolea, Ontario, and served as a lay representative of the United Church of England and Ireland parish of St Ann, Adelaide, near London, Ontario, in the first Anglican synod in the British Empire. His eldest son, Dr John Lang Bray, became president of the Canadian Medical Association in the 1890s, and his younger brother Tom Cox Bray's younger son, Sir John Cox Bray, K.C.M.G., of the antipodean Adelaide, as first native-born premier of South Australia, and later Agent General of that province in London (see "Burke's Colonial Gentry", vol. 2, p. 222, under 'Bray of Adelaide'). William Bray's penultimate son, the Rev. Horace Edgar Bray (1859-1943)(see "Burke's Landed Gentry", 1937 edition, 1939 supplement, under 'Bray'), rector of St John's, Port Rowan, Ontario, and graduate of Huron College, London, Ontario, married my mother's parents (the bride being his niece) in 1910, the same year that the Royal Canadian Navy came into existence. Uncle Horace's wife was Alice Maud Kingsmill, a kinswoman of Admiral Sir Charles Edmund Kingsmill, the man who presided as senior officer over the R.C.N. from 1910-1921 (See Horace and Alice's younger son was Horace Edgar Kingsmill "Rex" Bray (1896-1918), a young Canadian who served in the Royal Flying Corps, and is buried in Shotwick St Michael churchyard in Cheshire under the epitaph, "A Canadian soldier-poet who followed the gleam". My family's connexion with the Navy, both Royal and Royal Canadian, stretches back at least to the early 19th century in Canada and the United Kingdom, and in the career of my mother and her English-born forebear includes the fight against Hitlerian tyranny in the 20th century and Ottoman despotism in the 19th (as William Bray ran away to sea at 13 and served as a cabin boy at the Battle of Navarino when Greece, with British help, got its independence from the Turks in 1827). While the RFC and RCAF are very much the junior service, air power has served the cause of British and Canadian freedoms in two world wars and beyond, and I hope that this petition, to borrow from my poet hero cousin's grave, allows the Canadian services, the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force to 'gleam' once again under the honoured and honourable designation granted to both services as a signal mark of distinction in service by Canadian and British Empire and Commonwealth Sovereigns past and present. Vivat Regina! Long may Canada and the Commonwealth remember the freedoms we have fought to maintain and extend under our royal Commander-in-Chief, whose services well-deserve to enjoy again the Monarch's supreme accolade, Royal.

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The Petition moves along...

May 1: Laurie Hawn, M.P. agrees to support petition
April 30: Sent draft petition to The Dominion Institute to seek their sponsorship
April 28: Sent draft petition to Captain(N) Pickingford, Project Manager, Canadian Navy Centennial Project
April 27: Sent petition to Blaine Barker of the Royal Canadian Naval Association and Bob Nixon of the Naval Officer's Association of Canada and Peter Dawe, Executive Director of the RMC Club
April 26: The Monarchist League of Canada members are supportive
April 25: Interesting - even heated - debate over at the Navy, Army, Air Force Forum, where the "Yeas" have it by a two-thirds majority.