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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Richard Lemon Lander

RICHARD LEMON LANDER (1804-1834) and John (1807-1839), English explorers of the Niger, were natives of Cornwall, sons of an innkeeper at Truro. At the age of eleven Richard went to the West Indies in the service of a merchant. Returning to England after an absence of three years he took service with various wealthy families, with whom he travelled on the continent. In1823-1824he accompanied Major (afterwards General Sir) W. M. Colebrooke, on a tour through Cape Colony. In 1825 Richard offered his services to Hugh Clapperton, then preparing for his second expedition to West Africa. He was Clapperton's devoted servant and companion in this expedition, and on Clapperton's death near Sokoto in April 1827 Richard Lander, after visiting Kano and other parts of the Hausa states, returned to the Guinea coast through Yoruba bringing with him Clapperton's journal. To this on its publication (1829) was added The Journal of Richard Lander from Kano to the Coast, and in the next year Lander published another account of the expedition entitled Records of Captain Clapperton's Last Expedition to Africa ... with the subsequent Adventures of the Author. To this narrative he prefixed an autobiographical note. Richard Lander, though without any scientific attainments, had exhibited such capacity for exploration that the British government decided to send him out to determine the course of the lower Niger. In the expedition he was accompanied by his brother John, by trade a printer, and better educated than Richard, who went as an unsalaried volunteer. Leaving England in January 1830, the brothers landed at Badagry on the Guinea coast on the 2 2nd of March. They then travelled by the route previously taken by Clapperton to Bussa on the right bank of the Niger, reached on the 17th of June. Thence they ascended the river for about loo m. Going back to Bussa the travellers began, on the 20th of September, the descent of the river, not knowing whither it would lead them. They journeyed in canoes accompanied by a few negroes, their only scientific instrument a common compass. They discovered the Benue river, ascertaining when passing its confluence, by paddling against its stream, that their course was not in that direction. At the beginning of the delta they were captured by the Ibos, from whom they were ransomed by "King Boy" of Brass Town; by him they were taken to the Nun mouth of the river, whence a passage was obtained to Fernando Po, reached on the 1st of December. The Landers were thus able to lay down with approximate correctness the lower course of the Niger - a matter till then as much in dispute as was the question of the Nile sources. In the attack by the Ibos the Landers lost many of their records, but they published a narrative of their discoveries in 1832, in three small volumes - Journal of an Expedition to Explore the Course and Termination of the Niger. In recognition of his services the Royal Geographical Society - formed two years previously - granted Richard Lander in 1832 the royal medal, he being the first recipient of such an award. In the same year Richard went to Africa again as leader of an expedition organized by Macgregor Laird and other Liverpool merchants to open up trade on the Niger and to found a commercial settlement at the junction of the Benue with the main stream. The expedition encountered many difficulties, suffered great mortality from fever, and was not able to reach Bussa. Lander made several journeys up and down stream, and while going up the river in a canoe was attacked by the natives on the 20th of January 1834 at a spot about 84 m. above the Nun mouth, and wounded by a musket ball in the thigh. He was removed to Fernando Po, where he died on the 6th of February. John Lander, who on his return to England in 1831 obtained a situation at the London customs house, died on the 16th of November 1839 of a disease contracted in Africa.

See, besides the books mentioned, the Narrative of the Niger expedition of 1832-1834, published in 1837 by Macgregor Laird and R. A. K. Oldfield.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Richard Lemon Lander'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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