Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Africans - The Zambezi Expedition (11)

Although there are still many individuals associated with Livingstone’s thwarted Zambezi Expedition who have been forgotten or remain unrecognised, this series of posts will conclude with a brief tribute to those members of the Expedition without whom the venture - and all of Livingstone’s explorations in general it might be said - would have been impossible, and that is the huge number of African people who acted as guides, translators, porters, sailors, labourers and cooks.  

They came from diverse tribal backgrounds, such as the Yao from Mozambique and the Makololo from areas in what is now Botswana and Zambia, the tribe most favoured by Livingstone. There were the Kroomen or Krumen of West Africa who were associated with the Royal Navy, Johanna men from the Comoro Islands and Bombay Africans and Nasik Boys - often former slaves sent to missionary schools in India to learn practical skills.

History affords some of the more famous a few pages. 

Abdullah Susi and James Chuma are
Jacob Wainwright guarding Livingstone's coffin
perhaps the best-known as those who helped to preserve David Livingstone’s body and then carry it all the way from Chitambo in present-day Zambia to Zanzibar on the coast and then on to eventual burial in Westminster Abbey. Jacob Wainwright was one of the pall-bearers.

Susi and Chuma toured Britain telling of their experiences, but there were many others who escorted the body like Carrus Farrar or John Wekatoni who have slipped through history’s cracks and the sad fact is that they were discarded with little credit or further acknowledgement.

Matthew Wellington - refused a pension
Another example is Matthew Wellington who lived on in Mombasa until 1935 and is still within living memory of individuals who met him as children. (See this blog.)  He even met the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor) in 1928. For years, local officials and well-wishers tried to get a small pension to help Matthew, but their appeals fell on deaf ears in a Britain which had long ago abandoned its obligations to all such men.

Although 60 RGS (Royal Geographical Society) medals had been awarded to those connected with Livingstone's last journey, not all of them reached their recipients. Carrus Farrar's son sold his father's medal in 1906 to a colonial government official but when the purchaser wrote to the RGS about the award, nothing could be found relating to it.

The 1975 book by Donald Simpson Dark Companions  provides a valuable insight into some of these forgotten heroes as well as some who turned into villains.

The Zambezi Expedition is covered in Chapter 5, some of which overlaps with other famous enterprises such as the search for the source of the Nile by Baker, Burton and Speke, and Henry Stanley's sorties looking for Livingstone and the relief of Emin Pasha. It is recommended reading for anyone interested in the African contribution to 19th Century exploration. The Who's Who of Africans at the end of the book is particularly useful in finding out what happened to some of them.

But beyond a few facts and dates, one is left to try and imagine what some of their personal stories might have been: men such as Bishop Mackenzie's Jamaican cook, Lorenzo Johnson, who had been a slave in the American South, or Joao Tizora, known as Joe Scissors, who had been sold into slavery by his own family yet still managed to become a highly competent river pilot.

But they are all gone, leaving just a few traces of their lives in books written by white men, and all are worthy of further study and fresh investigation by African researchers.

Vasco da Gama, the first European to see the delta of the Zambezi River, rather prematurely called it Rio dos Bons Sinais, or the River of Good Omens. David Livingstone's expedition had few good omens and, if one believes in such things, perhaps he had offended Nyaminyami, the serpent god of the river in some way and it took its vengeance. 

Nyaminyami by Larry Norton

I am Nyami Nyami
Bringer of life
Courier of death
Ceaseless and eternal
I scatter your bones in my sand
Crush your dreams on my basalt
Bleach your memories
And send them
Silent to the sea

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Brother Charles, lost in the shadow - The Zambezi Expedition (10)

In many biographies, books or articles about David Livingstone and the Zambezi Expedition, considerable blame for the mistakes and personality clashes is placed at the feet of David’s younger brother, Charles. He is seen as the main catalyst in the dismissals and resignations, the miscommunication and even some of the unfortunate deaths that resulted. Yet Charles Livingstone is perhaps the most intriguing and complex character in all of this sorry saga.

Was he really the fanatical, uptight, obsessive and, on occasion, frighteningly violent, individual that the records show? Was he just so blinkered and determined to stick to his religious and "moral" duty that he could not tolerate the slightest refraction or weakness in others? Or could it simply be that he suffered from a serious depressive illness or psychological disorder?

Dr Oliver Ransford in his book David Livingstone, the Dark Interior, certainly suggests the latter and quotes several extracts from letters Charles wrote to his wife about his failure to cope, his nervousness and anxiety problems that led him to borderline breakdown, even a fear that "preaching will lead to my end in the madhouse". Ransford also notes that Charles was treated for mental difficulties several times and considers the likelihood this was partly genetic, given David's own stormy and erratic behaviour when dealing with people, and also that other siblings of the Livingstone family had been described as "dottie" or "daft".

Charles was eight years younger than David, born in 1821. He also worked long and arduous hours in a Lanarkshire cotton factory as a boy and later in a lace factory, but also tried to improve his prospects with after-hours studies. In 1840, he left Scotland for the United States to study first in Ohio at Oberlin, a progressive religious training college and then later at the Union Theological College in New York from where he graduated in 1850. He held various ministries throughout New England and in 1852 married Harriette Cemantha Ingraham in Plympton, Massachusetts and they had three children, a son and two daughters. 

This History of Oberlin College contains several references to Charles and his time there (including his first meeting with Miss Ingram [sic]) and extracts from letters that he wrote home about his experiences.
The younger Reverend by Charles Gow
Whilst on leave in England in 1857, Charles met up again with his brother David who was now world-famous after his discoveries in Central Africa, and who was in the throes of planning the Zambezi Expedition. As David felt he could trust a family member above all others, he pressured Charles into joining the Expedition as the "moral agent". This meant Charles had to give up his ministries in America and also leave his wife and children behind. He was not to see them again until 1863 by which time he was broken by ill health and incapable of taking up his previous full duties of a church minister.

But yet again a year later, he left America for England to join David in residence at Newstead Abbey, the former home of Lord Byron, where he would help co-write the Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi and its Tributaries.

This was to prove nowhere as successful as David Livingstone’s earlier travel book, being a cobbled together and hastily written polemic against slavery and justification for the Expedition, with no mention of the failures, quarrels and setbacks. Quite simply, it was a cover-up. When Charles Meller, another abused member of the Expedition, heard of it, he scoffed and predicted it would be "a concoction ... a curious composition of untruth."  (As related earlier in this series of blog posts, major efforts and contributions by various individuals were either played down or left out altogether.)

The older Reverend (carte de visite, date unknown)

After this, it is strange then, given the alleged poor state of his health and the prospect of even longer separation from his family, that Charles Livingstone accepted an appointment as British Consul in West Africa. 

At the time, when colonial officials wanted to demote or get rid of someone who had been controversial or an embarrassment in some way, they would be despatched to the worst possible posting; in this case, the island of Fernando Po (now Bioko), within the area of the Gulf of Guinea known as the "white man’s grave" where it was pretty well guaranteed the incumbent would come down with one of the endemic fevers and quietly shuffle off.

Sir Richard Francis Burton was the most famous renegade thorn in the side of the colonial office who had been sent to Fernando Po. But Burton stuck it out and when he was transferred to Brazil, Charles Livingstone replaced him. It is astonishing Charles managed to survive both there and at Calabar for nine years. Wives didn’t accompany men to such remote or dangerous outposts and it is likely that Charles only met his family on periodic leave breaks to England, his last being about eighteen months before he died.
Old image of Fernando Po

As Consul, Charles was heavily involved trying to solve complications for British trading interests in the region. There were various crises within the Kingdom of Bonny, which culminated in the secession of Opobo in 1869, followed by small wars throughout what is now Nigeria. Charles also continued the proselytizing he was trained in with the result that local chiefs gave up their "cruel and heathenish ways" and converted to Christianity.

In an account of his experiences visiting a cannibal king on the Bight of Biafra published in Bell’s Messenger (read it in full here) the last few sentences suggest that Charles Livingstone was not quite as lacking in humour as some of his critics have suggested:
"Never before in Africa have I seen such powerful-looking men as the Okrika. I could not but admire their physical strength. As they sat before me chewing bits of chop-stick to clean their teeth and gazing earnestly at me, the thought occasionally flashed across my mind, ‘Are these cannibals wondering how a piece of roast Consul would taste, and which would be most savoury, cold Consul or hot?"
Charles was recalled in 1873, partly because of his unpopularity in thwarting the often unscrupulous ambitions of local British palm oil traders. (Details about this are sketchy and research into this unknown side to Charles might provide another angle to his character that is untrammelled by links to his brother.) Sadly, he never reached home and died "of African Fever" while on board ship on 28 October 1873. Even in his home country of Scotland, his death in the Edinburgh News of 22 November warranted just these few lines.

Although Charles could not have known it at the time, David had died six months before in a remote region of what is now Zambia and it took his faithful porters many more months to bring his remains back to Britain.

David Livingstone now lies exalted in Westminster Abbey, while Charles has neither known grave nor major memorial. His wife Harriette died in 1900 and his three children continued to live together in Colorado where his son worked as a metallurgist. None of them ever married and the last survivor, Charles, died in 1937. All were interred in the same cemetery - see Find-a-Grave.

Some Livingstone scholars such as G.W. Clendennen have been a little more considerate of Charles and it is worth reading his aptly-named article "Historians Beware: You can't judge a book by its critics; or, problems with a nineteenth-century exploration record" (see JSTOR 1994 archives) and in which he discusses the writing of Narrative ... and mysteries around journals and other works written by Charles. He also suggests that Charles was a more considered individual, less rash than David and even that he did not exhibit the same degree of loathing towards the Portuguese as his brother. 

However, without any in-depth published biography to rely on, or descendants with intimate family knowledge to offer in his defence, Charles Livingstone must remain a lost enigma. Wholeheartedly disliked by so many, he appears a frustrated and lonely figure doomed to be overshadowed by the achievements and sanctity of his brother. And if he was also plagued by some form of clinical depression, it would not have been helped by enforced isolation and the repeated fevers that damaged or destroyed so many 19th Century Europeans who devoted much of their lives to Africa.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The most competent, yet least appreciated. Gunner E. D. Young - The Zambezi Expedition (9)

An article in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle of Saturday, 27 June, 1891, under the heading Naval Notes & News (from our Own Correspondents) draws attention to one of the most competent men ever to serve in the quest for opening up of the Zambezi and Shire Rivers, yet is probably the least known and least appreciated: It summarises the achievements of Edward Daniel Young exceptionally well and is included here almost in its entirety:

"I cannot see how the Admiralty can possibly ignore the claims of Mr Edward D. Young, a warrant officer, who this month retires through age from the position of inspecting officer of Coastguard at Dungeness, to some special recognition of his exceptionally brilliant career. He has unquestionably made the most distinguished record of any man in the service who has once served before the mast during the past two generations and, unlike some others who have performed special services of great merit, he has at all times done credit to the position in which he has been placed. The name of Mr. Young was, a few years since, on everybody’s lips as the intrepid leader of the expedition which disproved the tale of the death of the great African explorer, Livingstone, and the man who subsequently performed the difficult feat of planting on the breezy uplands of Lake Nyassa the memorial mission settlement of Livingstonia.
 When Livingstone was on his official expedition, the Pioneer, steamship, was built and sent out to him, and Mr. Young, then a naval warrant officer, was selected to command her. This service he performed to the satisfaction of Dr Livingstone, of the Admiralty, and also of the Royal Geographical Society, so that later on, when a leader was required for the Livingstone Search Expedition, Mr. Young was immediately selected. He designed a steel boat [see footnote*], which was made in sections, and with this and a small party he left England, ascended the Shire River then, hiring men, the boat was taken to pieces and carried on men’s shoulders up some fifty miles of pathless and precipitous forest. Having reached the lake, it was again screwed together, and in it the intrepid leader and his trusty men circumnavigated the lake until they struck across the explorer’s trail, and having proved the falsity of the report of his death, returned to England within seven months of his departure without the loss of a single life.
 After the actual death of the explorer the Scottish Universities determined to erect a permanent memorial to his memory, and it was decided to this end that a settlement should be planned on Lake Nyassa. To Young was entrusted the leadership and command, and splendidly did he perform his task. A large vessel, to be propelled by steam, was designed (like its predecessor, made in sections), and with this and a large party, and all the necessary and extensive paraphernalia for the erection of dwellings, planting of crops, etc., the party started. All these items, including the ship’s boiler, had to be transported on the shoulders of men from the cataracts on the Shire River up through 50 miles of forest to the lake, and it must be remembered that the loss of a single nut or screw would have meant disaster to the whole party. The work was safely accomplished, and the vessel was put together again on the lake, where she trades today. The Times in 1887, reported that at that time, some ten years subsequent the Ilala was tight as a bottle, while the settlement of Livingstonia then was sufficiently flourishing to support 13 publications issued in the native language and a large and successful town had grown up.
 It was as a reward for his services that Mr. Young received the appointment at Dungeness, and now he has to retire. As it is, he will be pensioned as a warrant officer, which means his utter effacement, as the names of pensioned warrants are not retained in the Navy List after they pass from the Active List. Mr. Young has one failing, and that an uncommon and very serious one in these days of self-advertisement when men are taken by a simple public very much at their own appraisement. He is far too modest, and has allowed his really valuable services to be almost forgotten except by a few friends, who are now seeking to secure their proper recognition. There ought to be no difficulty whatever in conferring upon him the rank of lieutenant upon his retirement, so that the few years left to him may be spent in that modern comfort which such advancement would bring with it. Had he sprung from another class there would, I venture to say, have been any reason to remind the authorities of their duty."

Young’s experiences with capturing slavers affected him deeply and his abhorrence of slavery played a major part in his association with firstly the Zambezi Expedition, his later search for Livingstone and the establishment of Livingstonia Mission in what is now Malawi.

Born in Alverstoke, Hampshire in 1831, he was educated at Greenwich School and was a boy entrant into the Royal Navy. In 1852 he married Eliza Love Bartlett and had one daughter, also Eliza.

He spent several years on slavery patrols aboard HMS Gorgon off the east coast of Africa, often being in charge of one of the small boats put off to chase Arab dhows among the mosquito-infested rivers. Promoted to Gunner in June 1858 he was selected and seconded for duty on the Expedition’s steamers early in 1862.

Young seems to have been the only individual to have successfully negotiated the bickering, vitriol and accusations thrown around by both David and Charles Livingstone that plagued the Expedition and he stayed with it until its recall in 1864.

When David Livingstone went missing soon after the failure of the Expedition, and was presumed dead, Young was the ideal choice to lead a search for his former leader. He had personal knowledge of the man who gave out the information that Livingstone was dead and had learned not to trust him. And so the "Search for Livingstone" began. (Not to be confused with the more famous search some years later led by Henry Morton Stanley which resulted in the famous ‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume?’ quote.) 

Publications by Edward Young were well-known during the era when Livingstone was much lauded. His diary about the adventure in searching for Livingstone can be read online here. There is also the occasional reprint of other works such as this one. 

In 1875, Young was recruited out of his post with the coastguard at Dungeness and put in charge of taking the specially-constructed vessel Ilala to found the new mission at Livingstonia. That he succeeded eminently in this without major tragedies, racial strife or personality conflicts, reflects on his capabilities. 

(For those readers with access to JSTOR Archives via their institution or library, there is a detailed article on his life by F.M. Withers in the Nyasaland Journal of January, 1951.)

(Image from Electric Scotland)

A formal portrait of Young has been impossible to find, but there is a chance he could be the man on the left with what looks like naval attire. (Image from Livingstone: Man of Africa, Memorial Essays.)

Young was also one of the pall-bearers when David Livingstone was finally laid to rest in Westminster Abbey in April, 1874. Compared with the above photograph, he may well be the third man from the front.
Copyright historical archives of London Illustrated News

Those who championed for Young’s promotion must have succeeded as his probate states he died on 4 November 1896 at Hastings as a “retired Lieutenant in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy”. 

His only daughter Eliza never married and thus he has no descendants. Eliza was still living in the family home at 7 High Wickham, Hastings when she died in 1936. Seems there are blue plaques for other notable residents of this street, but the admirable Lieutenant E. D. Young, RN, is not one of them. 

*  The vessel was appropriately named Search, had been built to Young’s design in the Admiralty Dockyards at Chatham. She was thirty feet long, eight in beam and drew eighteen inches of water; was fitted with cutter rigged sails and oars; and was specially constructed in steel sections, so that she could be easily dismantled and carried by porters overland past the cataracts on the Shire.  This image also from London Illustrated News, 4 October 1867 and presumably it is Young in the stern of Search waving farewell as he sets off to find Livingstone.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Guts, intelligence and industry. Richard Thornton - The Zambezi Expedition (8)

Richard Thornton, was the second-youngest of twelve children and born at Cottingley, Yorkshire, in 1838 and he demonstrated early ability at school and deep interest in the natural world.
Richard Thornton

A prizewinning graduate of the London School of Mines, he was about to take up a position as geologist with an Australian government survey when he was presented with the opportunity to join the Zambezi Expedition and he sailed on the Pearl together with several of the other participants including Baines, Bedingfield, Sir John Kirk and Livingstone’s brother Charles.

As has been described earlier in this series of posts, the seeds for future personality conflicts were sown on that voyage. Thornton clearly upset Charles Livingstone for some reason. Possibly his keen intelligence, youthful enthusiasm and a mind open to the exciting opportunities ahead had all or something to do with it. 

As it turned out, Thorntons youth (barely twenty) and life inexperience were no match for a hardened, stressed and morose David Livingstone, who accused him and Thomas Baines (see earlier post) of laziness, “skylarking”, drinking too much brandy and colluding with the Portuguese: 
Thornton evidently disinclined to geologize and has done next to nothing for the last three months. Gorges himself with the best of everything he can lay hands on. …” and Thornton doing nothing: is inveterately lazy and wants good sense.
George Martelli in his book Livingstones River details that Livingstone’s fault was to leave this willing and able, but totally inexperienced, young man: ... to his own devices in a savage country, without proper instructions, supervision or any provision for medical care.

When the majority of the expedition was away up-country, Thornton was left behind at Tete (Mozambique) and told to find any coal seams in the area. Although he was equipped with guides, he did not understand any of the languages and the workers soon took advantage of his youth, indulged in pilfering and refused to obey his orders. Thornton did find a coal seam, but was already suffering from serious bouts of malaria, prickly heat and badly festering mosquito bites. There were days when he could barely stand upright, he was so ill.

From Thornton’s many letters to family members and his diaries which were crammed full of geological and topographical information, it was clear he wasn’t lazy, but he was sacked by Livingstone anyway without even being paid his due salary.

Following his dismissal and partial recovery from the fever, Thornton travelled with Portuguese traders up along the Zambezi and through what is now Zambia to East Africa where he joined up with the German explorer, Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken and accompanied him on an attempt to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Thornton thus became the first Englishman to view the mountain and also to confirm that the summit did indeed have snow and ice.
Mt Kilimanjaro c 1869

David Livingstone clearly regretted his hasty dismissal of the young man, partly because he needed Thornton’s maps and geological surveys for his own reports on the Expedition. 

Thornton was  invited to rejoin the Zambezi Expedition, but by now the young man’s days were numbered and he died on 21 April, 1863, after an heroic journey in bringing food to his companions. Livingstone must have realised that his treatment of Thornton had been harsh and approved the payment of arrears of  his salary - albeit less expenses - to Thornton’s estate. Livingstone never gave any public acknowledgement of his culpability in sending the young man to an early grave. As with the case with Baines, he never forgave Thornton being friendly with the dreaded Portuguese.

Martelli sums up this able young man as follows: 

Thornton had all the qualities necessary to success in the career he had chosen; guts, intelligence, industry, independence of spirit and but for his tragic death he might well have achieved eminence in the geological exploration of Africa. It was a defect of Livingstone’s leadership that he failed to bring out these qualities, although Thornton had already shown them in his excellent survey of the River Zambezi, and that they only emerged after he had escaped from the Expedition and the baneful influence of Livingstone’s brother.

Thornton is buried at Maganga village, Malawi, and his grave is still cared for today.

The grave today. See Blogging from Blantyre

Thornton is also recorded on this family tombstone in Shipley, Yorkshire. Find-a-Grave

Links to other webpages that give details of the short life of Richard Thornton, the talented young geologist for the Zambezi Expedition:

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Renaissance Man, Thomas Baines - The Zambezi Expedition (7)

Another member of the Expedition to fall seriously foul of David Livingstone’s inability to lead, or even communicate properly at a personal level with people of his own kind, was Thomas Baines.

Described in an obituary as brave and distinguished, Thomas Baines (1820-1875) was a man of many talents but is primarily remembered as an artist. His personal story deserves far more than a few lines.  (See below for the Oxford Dictionary of Biography entry and other links.)

Baines was the subject of an excellent biography Thomas Baines of Kings Lynn by J P R Wallis, published in 1941, but he deserves a modern reappraisal not just of his art, but because of his passion for wild life and the natural landscape, for his perceptiveness, good nature and tolerance in his dealings with his fellow travellers, people of other races and nationalities.

Baines at the time of his departure in SS Pearl

As an artist he is mainly remembered for his African scenes, but prior to joining the Zambezi Expedition, he took part in an expedition to Northern Australia with Augustus Gregory, travelling much of the Gulf of Carpentaria in a long boat. His art works hang in several Australian galleries and institutions. Mount Baines and Baines River in the Northern Territory are named after him.

Watercolour, Baobab in Africa

Baobab in Australia

Baines sailed together with other members of the Zambezi Expedition from England in SS Pearl in March 1858. It was at some stage on that voyage that the rot set in with most of the relationships that would only get worse with time. (The stories about Bedingfield and Rae featured earlier in this series of posts.) 

Charles Livingstone, David’s brother, took his role as “moral agent” to the extreme and it only needed a minor slip-up in what he considered to be proper Christian behaviour for the men to get on his wrong side. Like David, he was racially arrogant towards the Portuguese, thinking them immoral and degenerate, so when men like Baines displayed friendliness towards officials of Tete Province in Mozambique, who had only shown consideration and courtesy in return, Charles thought they were off having “orgies” together. He whispered his opinion of these wicked doings to his brother who accepted them as truth. David must surely have known in his heart-of-hearts what sort of man his brother really was, yet he allowed important and often fateful decisions to be governed by this vicious gossip.

The biography by Wallis describes how the many natural specimens Baines collected were treated:
 “[They] were denounced, he does not say by whom [again most likely Charles Livingstone] as trash, lumber, stinking things and thrown overboard at the first opportunity” … “and he became tired of collecting. He felt he was looked upon more as a storekeeper and handyman than as an artist and there was no disposition to admit him to the liberal side of the expedition’s work.”
Baines had involved himself in every aspect of the Expedition, including woodworking and boat building, but was laid low several times due to fever - as were most of the participants. The crunch came when he was accused by Charles of being free and easy with the stores and “having given away the property of the Expedition in such a manner as to lay himself open to prosecution”.

While in a delirious state caused by his fever, Baines responded to this accusation by Charles with some no doubt ill-chosen words that were interpreted as a confession of sorts, and his fate was further sealed when he was accused of “skylarking”, ruining a whale boat and wasting his “time and materials in painting Portuguese portraits”. Baines was primarily an animal and landscape painter and not many portraits exist, if any, as he abandoned many of his paintings and drawings when he was forced to leave the Expedition. 

One of the few portraits known by Baines
Wife of Capt. Drysdale, Royal Geographical Society, 1856
Baines in later life, National Library of Australia
Although David Livingstone and Baines seem to have discussed in person the matter of the misappropriation or outright theft of Expedition supplies, it is the official letter of dismissal that David Livingstone handed to Baines in which the whisperings of his brother Charles can be detected. David even questions Baines’ artistic ability, which hardly reflects well on Livingstone. This letter is fully reproduced in all its sniping officiousness in the biography and makes for sad reading. As with Bedingfield, Baines was written out of the official Journal published by the Livingstone brothers, although some of his illustrations were included without accreditation.

Thomas Baines did not let the disappointing and unpleasant ending to the Zambezi Expedition impinge on the rest of his life and he went on to have great influence in the development of Southern Africa until he died in 1875.

In an article written on the centenary of his death that can be read in the JStor Archives, the author states that his ability was outstanding:
... that he probably approached the ideal of Renaissance Man more nearly than anyone in Africa at the time. Besides being a proficient handyman, able to shoe a horse, mend a wagon wheel, or repair a rifle, he was an accomplished astronomer, navigator and cartographer, and a very competent botanist, entomologist (several plants and one insect were named after him following their discoveries) and he possessed a most intelligent and enquiring mind.
The increasingly endangered Black Rhinoceros
The beetle - Bolbotritus bainesi

The bizarre Welwitschia bainesii


Baines, (John) Thomas (1820–1875), artist and explorer, was born on 27 November 1820 at King's Lynn, Norfolk, the second son and one of three surviving children of Mary Ann Watson and John Thomas Baines, a master mariner. His father and maternal grandfather were amateur artists, his brother Henry a professional. His mother strongly encouraged his artistic endeavours and was his chief publicist in his lifetime and after his death. After education at private schools in King's Lynn he was apprenticed to a painter of heraldic arms on coach panels, also in King's Lynn, but began sketching marine subjects. In 1842 he sailed for Cape Town, where he practised his trade until, in 1845, he became a marine and portrait painter. In 1846 he began his career as a traveller, using his writing and painting to finance his explorations. In the late 1840s he started to sketch the battlefield scenes which some regard as his most memorable work, and between 1851 and 1852 he was the official war artist to the British forces during the Cape Frontier War.

In 1853 Baines returned to England and worked for the Royal Geographical Society, on whose recommendation, in 1855, he joined Augustus Gregory's expedition to north-west Australia. Many fine paintings and sketches survive from his journey and the Baines River was named after him. His energy and judgement won him special thanks from the colonial government and the freedom of his native town. In 1858, again on the recommendation of the Royal Geographical Society of which he had been elected a fellow in 1857, he was appointed storekeeper and artist to David Livingstone's expedition to open up the Zambezi for trade. It was an unhappy expedition, from which Baines was unjustly dismissed for allegedly misappropriating stores after a disagreement with Livingstone's brother Charles. His paintings from the Zambezi were exhibited in London and Dublin and his manuscript map of the river (D. Middleton, ‘The doctor who loved Africa’, Geographical Magazine, 45/8, 1973, 596) lodged in the Royal Geographical Society. In 1861 he joined James Chapman on an expedition from the south-west coast of Africa to the Victoria Falls; he made a complete route survey, having been taught how to use surveying and astronomical instruments by Sir Thomas Maclear, astronomer royal at the Cape. He also collected scientific information and botanical specimens—the latter now at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew—and made many sketches and paintings, which were published as coloured lithographs in 1862. He returned to England to write and lecture before going back to southern Africa to lead an expedition which successfully secured concessions for a gold mining company, although the company failed to take advantage of his achievement. He mapped and wrote a valuable description of the route from the goldfields of the Tati to the capital of the Transvaal republic. In 1873 he was awarded a testimonial gold watch by the Royal Geographical Society. He continued to travel in southern Africa, surveying, drawing, and painting what he saw. On 8 May 1875 he died of dysentery at Durban and was buried in the old cemetery there.

Baines never married but his pleasant manner and faithful nature secured him many friends. He was energetic and active, despite his limp which resulted from the ill setting of a fractured femur and which earned him the nickname Cripple Thigh. Although largely self-taught and working under very difficult and, in the case of his war sketches, dangerous conditions, he produced technically accomplished and sympathetic sketches, watercolours, and oils, which were highly regarded in his own lifetime and were later much prized, especially in southern Africa and in Australia.

Elizabeth Baigent


M. Diemont and J. Diemont, eds., Brenthurst Baines: a selection of the works of Thomas Baines (1975) · R. Braddon, Thomas Baines and the north Australian expedition (1986) · L. W. Bolze, Thomas Baines centenary, 1875–1975: a tribute to southern Africa's renowned artist-explorer (Johannesburg, 1975) · J. Carruthers, Thomas Baines: eastern Cape sketches, 1848–1852 (1990) · J. P. R. Wallis, Thomas Baines of King's Lynn: explorer and artist, 1820–1875 (1941); repr. (1982) · H. Luckett, Thomas Baines, 1820–1875 (1975) · Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 46 (1876), 141–4


 Brenthurst Library, Johannesburg, corresp., notebooks, diaries, and papers · Lynn Museum, King's Lynn, sketchbooks and paintings · National Archives of Zimbabwe, Harare, corresp. and papers · NHM, paintings and drawings · NL Aus., journal · RBG Kew, botanical specimens · RGS, papers and journals of African expedition |  NL Scot., corresp. with Dr David Livingstone [microfilm] · RGS, letters to Royal Geographical Society

Antiquarian Booksellers 

Australian National Herbarium

South African History Online

African Paintings

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

One of the last "Nightingales" - The Zambezi Expedition (6)

Anyone who was born in 1831 and died in 1933 at the ripe old age of 102, would have been witness to some of the most remarkable developments in human history. They would have seen the worldwide expansion of the railways, motor cars and commercial air flight. And then there were the amazing inventions of electric lighting, telephones, radio and motion pictures, as well as the great medical advancements, including the discovery by Dr Ronald Ross that the malaria which had so blighted the Zambezi Expedition was caused by mosquitoes. Jessie Lennox was one such person, and her story rounds out those of the women of the Expedition. 

Initially, most of what I was able to find out about Jessie followed on from newspaper obituaries and this one from the British Nursing Journal of February 1933. As will be seen, her experiences on the Zambezi are not really detailed and it is mostly about her later career in nursing and her friendship with Florence Nightingale.
THE PASSING BELL [British Journal of Nursing, February 1933] 
Miss Jessie Lennox, who was a personal friend of Dr. Livingstone and Florence Nightingale, has died in Edinburgh at the age of 102.
She first went to Africa as a missionary in 1858, and after a period in England, she went out again in 1862. She then accompanied Mrs. Livingstone from Durban to the mouth of the Zambesi, and witnessed the meeting between the great missionary and his wife there.
Returning again to England, Miss Lennox was associated with the Nightingale Training School for Nurses in London and became a close friend of Florence Nightingale. She was one of the first six Army Sisters appointed by the War Office to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley. These Sisters were received by Miss Nightingale, that she might give them parting instructions. She lay in bed, pencil and paper always beside her, that everything of interest might be noted down. Miss Lennox described her bedroom as a large, airy room - “with plenty of ventilation, even in those days!” In giving the Sisters advice, Miss Nightingale exhorted them that they were never to say they were unable to do anything!
For 18 years she was matron of the Sick Children’s Hospital in Belfast, and after her retirement she was honorary matron for ten years of the epileptic colony at Bridge of Weir, Scotland.
When the Scottish War Memorial was opened in Edinburgh in 1927, Miss Lennox was an honoured guest wearing a nursing uniform similar to the first issued to the British Army, and she was presented to the King and Queen and the Prince of Wales.
Miss Lennox has related the circumstances which brought about her first visit to Miss Nightingale’s house. From all over the world she was receiving applications for advice and assistance in nursing matters. On that occasion the German Empress - mother of the ex-Kaiser - had requested that a complete set of probationer’s uniform be sent to Germany as a model, and Miss Lennox was the nurse deputed to convey it to Miss Nightingale’s house in Park Lane.
After years of devoted service the pioneer “Nightingales” are passing to their rest.
Florence Nightingale surrounded by some of her nurses
While searching for images online of Jessie Lennox, I was very pleased to come across the Hole Ousia blog which carries a post about a family connection to her and adds much more information from private sources. It states that Anne Mackenzie, to whom she was maid-companion in Durban, had this to say about her:
Alice [sister of Anne Mackenzie] has brought us a treasure in Jessie, who is the brightest creature I have seen for many a day ...
Jessie is a perfect delight, so ready to make herself useful, and she has volunteered how very happy she is already.
Anne Mackenzie encouraged Jessie into nursing after their African experiences and she had a long career. References to her progress and also extracts from her letters appear in the Collected works of Florence Nightingale but they also indicate there were periods when she was sick. She had to resign from Netley in 1870 due to ill health and again from the Belfast Children’s Hospital in 1891 for the same reason. Although she lived to a great age, even by today’s standards, one wonders if the deprivations and malarial fevers that she and the other women suffered all those years earlier on the Zambezi may have been a contributing factor to those episodes of ill health. 

One newspaper reported that Jessie was buried in the North Merchiston Cemetery, now in a sad state of disrepair, but I have been unable to discover whether she has a traceable tombstone. [Addendum - thanks to recent comment, discovered this is incorrect and she is buried at Morningside Cemetery in Edinburgh.]

Jessie Lennox - these images from Hole Ousia


There is one other white woman who journeyed up the river with Jessie, Anne Mackenzie, Emily Burrup and Mary Livingstone, who remains a mystery. All the published sources and references on the Expedition only ever refer to her as "Sarah". Unlike her companions she does not seem to have left her mark in any way and, like mist over the Zambezi, has simply evaporated into history.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The "Blythe Spirit" - The Zambezi Expedition (5)

Much of what is known about the ladies of the Expedition comes from a book by W. Cope Devereaux, who had been Assistant Paymaster on HMS Gorgon, the Royal Navy vessel that was cruising the coast of East Africa as part of the suppression of the slave trade and was given orders to assist Livingstone. Unlike more formal, often censored, accounts and biographies, Devereaux has a wry, if somewhat condescending masculine superiority, and while not all that he writes is completely trustworthy or accurate, the book gives the detached outsider's view of several individuals of the Expedition. 

HMS Gorgon

Published in 1869, a copy of Devereaux's book found its way into a library in Durban, South Africa (the Campbell Collection), and there at some time in the next year or so was annotated by a woman with the initials of E.M.B. - possibly late in December, 1870, when she was en route to a completely new life in Australia. (For the full article see The Society of Malawi Journal, January 1977)

She seems to have been known as "Emily", possibly because of her E.M. initials, although she was born Elizabeth Mary Tudway in Gloucestershire in 1840 and married Reverend Henry de Wint Burrup in 1861 shortly before he embarked on his travels with Bishop Mackenzie. 

Her annotated comments next to Devereaux's passages about the ladies indicate something of her character. She is not at all impressed at his suggestions they were "helpless" or "fond of dress". Examples include:
The author speaks of what he does not understand. It is easy to criticize others' actions when one is not in the field! Things were done with much prayer and consideration and not "foolishly" and "conceitedly".
All is an invention of Mr. D[evereaux]. The "poor creatures" were by no means as unfortunate as he represents.
Although E.M. was devoted to the idea of being a missionary alongside her husband, she also seems to have had great energy and sense of fun, and adds comments about the food, including eating sweets, about her hair being long enough to sit upon, and the horrific mosquitoes that plagued them incessantly. 

E.M.'s world was soon changed forever when she learned she was a widow at the age of 22 and, suffering greatly from boils and ulcers, she was cared for by Mary Livingstone until she and Miss Mackenzie could be repatriated to their safer lives.  

Curious as to what happened to E.M. after her sad experience in Africa, I was surprised to discover that she had strong links to Australia. She was married again in 1870, to ironmonger merchant, James Levick, who had homes both in England and in Sydney. James was a widower, nearly 25 years older than E.M. and with several grown children.

The Victorian Public Record Office passenger lists show that E.M. arrived in Australia with her new husband and some of his children on the ship Queen of the Thames (see note below) in January 1871. Tragically, her first child, Lawrence Burrup Levick, died in August of that year, but she went on to have several more children in Sydney before James Levick died in 1879 and she returned to England a few years later.

My investigations led me to contact one of her great-granddaughters in Australia. She told me that there is still in existence an old trunk full of family memorabilia that belonged to one of E.M.'s sons, Lionel Levick, who died at sea on his way home to Australia in 1913, leaving his three daughters orphaned. The trunk spent much of the past century in an old country barn but apparently it contains letters, journals and even photographs of individuals unknown to the present generation of Levicks. Some of them include black people.

E.M.'s great-granddaughter had only limited knowledge of the Zambezi Expedition, although the names "Burrup" and "Tudway" were familiar to her. It seems several of E.M.'s female descendants were strong women who overcame hardships and challenges and were known for their "fervour" in whatever paths they chose in life. They have included an artist, a sufragette and a university professor.

Perhaps some day, someone in the family will investigate that trunk in greater depth and more historical records or facts could come to light - maybe even photographs of E.M. or others involved in the Expedition. It is possible that new information could be added to the historical records and it would be wonderful if this does happen as there is still so much that is unknown about the experiences of the women in particular during this early thwarted attempt to bring Christianity and civilization to Central Africa.

E.M. died in 1907 and here is her obituary from The Cheltenham Chronicle, also an earlier article in which her son tells the story of her hair and how an African chief offered to buy her with oxen (this episode is also covered in Devereaux's book).

Note:  In another of those odd quirks of history, the vessel that took E.M. to Australia, The Queen of the Thames, was wrecked at South Africa on her return voyage in 1871. On board was geologist, Richard Daintree, after whom the Daintree Forest of North Queensland is named. Most of his collection of rare geological and other specimens was lost in the wreck, but he managed to save his valuable photographic plates. Read about them here.  

The Queen of the Thames, wrecked Overberg Coast, 1871