John Weston Brooke

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John Weston Brooke
John weston brooke.jpg
Lt. John Weston Brooke, FRGS
Born (1880-07-02)2 July 1880
Fenay Hall, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England
Died 24 December 1908(1908-12-24) (aged 28)
Lolo Land (Yi people)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1898–1902
Rank Lieutenant
Unit Yorkshire Dragoons, 7th Hussars
Battles/wars Second Boer War
Other work Explorer
Sir Byron Leighton Claud Grenfel Major Frederick Russell Burnham Captain Gordon Forbes Abe Bailey unidentified Lord Brooke Major Bobby White Lord Downe Major-General Sir Henry Edward Colville Major Harry White Major Joe Laycock Sir Winston Churchill Sir Charles Bentinck Colonel Maurice Gifford unidentifiedA formative photograph of 17 men. Eight stand, seven sit on chairs and two are on the floor.
Returning from the Boer War on the RMS Dunottar Castle, July 1900.[1] Standing L-R: Sir Byron Leighton, Claud Grenfel, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, Captain Gordon Forbes, Abe Bailey (his son John would marry Diana Churchill in 1932), next two unidentified, John Weston Brooke. Seated L-R: Major Bobby White, Lord Downe, General Sir Henry Edward Colvile (a year later Churchill as MP would demand an inquiry over his dismissal from South Africa), Major Harry White, Major Joe Laycock, Winston Churchill, Sir Charles Bentinck. Sitting L-R: unidentified, Col. Maurice Gifford (who had lost his arm in the Second Matabele War).

John Weston Brooke FRGS (2 July 1880 – 24 December 1908) was a British military officer and explorer born at Fenay Hall, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. He was the eldest son of John Arthur Brooke and Blanche Weston, and went to school at Repton. In 1898, he joined the Yorkshire Dragoons,[2] a Yeomanry unit, and served with the Imperial Yeomanry in the Second Boer War.[2] He was promoted to lieutenant in the Imperial Yeomanry on 10 March 1900.[3] An act of gallantry in the field won him a commission as second lieutenant in the 7th Hussars of the regular British Army, on the recommendation of Field Marshal (United Kingdom) the Lord Roberts, the commission was dated 3 October 1900,[4] and in November 1900 he returned to England and joined the unit at Aldershot.[5]

In 1902, Brooke resigned from the army and returned to England. There he met and worked with Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the famous American scout and then a Director of the East African Syndicate. In April 1903, as part of the Syndicate, Brooke left England for East Africa and went on an expedition with John C. Blick, Mr. Bittlebank, and Mr. Brown. The party, known as the "Four B.'s", traveled from Nairobi via Mount Elgon northwards to the western shores of Lake Rudolph, experiencing plenty of privations from want of water, and of the danger from encounters with the natives.[6]

Brooke returned to England in April 1904 and applied himself to the study of scientific objects. He received his diploma for survey from the Royal Geographic Society and was made a Fellow of the Society.[5][7]

In March 1906, Brooke went to India to organize an expedition to Tibet to investigate the much debated question of the relation of the Yarlung Tsangpo (then called the Sampo) and Brahmaputra Rivers. Because of a treaty between Russia and the government of India, Brooke's party had to enter Tibet from the North, and this meant travelling via Hankow, Singan, Pingliang, Lanchow, to Siningu, where the party collected ponies, yaks, and supplies. In October 1906, the 13th Dalai Lama (Thubten Gyatso) arrived from Urgu, and Mr. Brooke obtained an audience to see him, the first for an Englishman. During this audience, Brooke was given permission to enter into Tibet.[6][7]

Brooke crossed Tibet and returned to Shanghai in October 1907. He left Shanghai for a second expedition in December 1907 and travelled in Western Sechuan and Eastern Tibet until 24 December 1908, when he was cruelly murdered in the Independent Lolo Land (Yi people).[5][7]


Brooke was the son of Sir John Arthur Brooke, 1st Baronet (1844–1920) by his marriage to Blanche Weston. His father was the first of the Brooke baronets of Almondbury, and his brother Sir Robert Weston Brooke was the 2nd Baronet (1885–1942).[8][9]


  1. ^ "FinestHour" (pdf). Journal of the Churchill Center and Societies, Summer 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "No. 27030". The London Gazette. 6 December 1898. p. 7903. 
  3. ^ "No. 27172". The London Gazette. 9 March 1900. p. 1630. 
  4. ^ "No. 27175". The London Gazette. 20 March 1900. p. 1880. 
  5. ^ a b c Fergusson, W.N. (1911). Adventure, Sport and Travel on the Tibetan Steppes, p. preface. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York
  6. ^ a b Fergusson, W.N. (1911). Adventure, Sport and Travel on the Tibetan Steppes, p. preface. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York
  7. ^ a b c Obituary: J. W. Brooke, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 222-223 (Feb. 1909)
  8. ^ Charles Mosle (editor) (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, p. preface. 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, volume 1, page 520.
  9. ^ Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors) (1990). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, New York: St Martin's Press,[page needed]

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