Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cameron, Charles Duncan
CAMERON, CHARLES DUNCAN (d. 1870), British consul in Abyssinia, was son of an old Penninsular officer, Colonel Cameron, 3rd Buffs. He entered the army, by purchase, as an ensign in the 45th foot on 19 May 1846, and served therein until July 1851. He was attached to the native levies during the Kaffir war of 1846-7. Having settled in Natal on his retirement from the 45th, he was employed by Mr. (afterwards Sir B.C.) Pine, then lieutenant-governor of that colony, on diplomatic service in the Zulu country, and acted as Kaffir magistrate in the Klip river district of Natal. He commanded the Kaffir irregulars sent from Natal to the Cape Colony overland during the war of 1851-2. At the outbreak of the war with Russia he was appointed to the staff of Sir Fenwick Williams, her majesty's commissioner with the Turkish army, receiving the local rank of captain in Turkey while so employed. He was placed in command of the fortifications in course of erection at Erzeroum, and after the fall of Kars was detached on special service to Trebizond until September 1856. For his military services he received the Kaffir and Turkish war medals, and the Turkish medal for Kars. He passed an examination before the civil service commissioners, and obtained an honorary certificate on 16 June 1858. He was appointed vice-consul at Redout Kale in April 1858, and was removed to Poti in 1859. He was appointed British counsul in Abyssinia to reside at Massowah in 1860, and left for his new station in November 1861, arriving there on 9 Jan. 1862. He accompanied the Grand Duke of during a visit to the interior in that year. Cameron afterwards left Massowah for Gondar, to deliver to King Theodore of Abyssinia a royal letter and presents from Queen Victoria, and arrived at Gondar on 23 June 1862. He was imprisoned by King Theodore, on charges of interfering with the internal politics of the kingdom, from 2 June 1864 until 17 Aug. , when he was handed over to Mr. Rassam, assistant political agent at Aden, who had been sent on a special mission to Abyssinia to obtain his release. He was reimprisoned by King Theodore, together with Mr. Rassam and others, at Amba Magdala from 12 July 1866, until released, with the other prisoners, on the appearance of the British army before Magdala, 11 April 1868. Cameron returned to England in July 1868, and retired on a pension in December of the same year. He died at Geneva on 30 May 1870. His account of his captivity and the correspondence relating thereto, and to the Abyssinian expedition, will be found among 'Parl. Printed Papers,' 1868-9. He was elected fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1858.
[Army lists; Foreign Office Lists; Parl. Papers, Accounts and Papers, 1868-9; Hozier's Narrative of the Expedition to Abyssinia (London, 1869); Journal R. Geog. Soc., London, xli, p. cliii.]