1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bowdich, Thomas Edward

BOWDICH, THOMAS EDWARD (1790–1824), English traveller and author, was born at Bristol in 1790. In 1814, through his uncle, J. Hope-Smith, governor of the British Gold Coast Settlements, he obtained a writership in the service of the African Company of Merchants and was sent to Cape Coast. In 1817 he was sent, with two companions, to Kumasi on a mission to the king of Ashanti, and chiefly through his skilful diplomacy the mission succeeded in its object of securing British control over the coast natives (see Ashanti: History). In 1818 Bowdich returned to England, and in 1819 published an account of his mission and of the study he had made of the barbaric court of Kumasi, entitled Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, &c. (London, 1819). His African collections he presented to the British Museum. Bowdich publicly attacked the management of the African committee, and his strictures were instrumental in leading the British government to assume direct control over the Gold Coast. From 1820 to 1822 Bowdich lived in Paris, studying mathematics and the natural sciences, and was on intimate terms with Cuvier, Humboldt and other savants. During his stay in France he edited several works on Africa, and also wrote scientific works. In 1822, accompanied by his wife, he went to Lisbon, where, from a study of historic MSS., he published An Account of the Discoveries of the Portuguese in . . . Angola and Mozambique (London, 1824). In 1823 Bowdich and his wife, after some months spent in Madeira and Cape Verde Islands, arrived at Bathurst at the mouth of the Gambia, intending to go to Sierra Leone and thence explore the interior. But at Bathurst Bowdich died on the 10th of January 1824. His widow published an account of his last journey, entitled Excursions in Madeira and Porto Santo . . . to which is added . . . A Narrative of the Continuance of the Voyage to its Completion, &c. (London, 1825). Bowdich’s daughter, Mrs Hutchinson Hale, republished in 1873, with an introductory preface, her father’s Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee.