Lander, Richard Lemon (DNB00)
LANDER, RICHARD LEMON (1804–1834), African traveller, was born 8 Feb. 1804, at Truro, Cornwall, where his father kept the Fighting Cocks Inn, afterwards known as the Dolphin. His grandfather was a noted wrestler. A contested election for the borough was won on the day of his birth by Colonel Lemon, and suggested his second name. He was the fourth of six children, and is described as a bright little fellow, whose roving propensities gave his friends constant anxiety. He was educated at ‘old Pascoe’s’ in Coombs Lens of his native town, and was a great favourite with the master. At thirteen he went out with s merchant to the West Indies, had an attack of yellow fever at San Domingo returned home in 1818, and afterwards lived as servant in several wealthly families in London, with whom he traveled on the continent. In 1823 he went to the Cape Colony as a private servant to Major Colebrooke royal artillery, afterwards General Sir W. M. G. Colbrooke, C.B. (cf. Colonial List, 1869), then one of the commissioners of colonial inquiry. After traversing the colony with his master, Lander returned home with him in 1824. The discoveries of Lieutenant Hugh Clapperton [q. v.] and Major Dixon Denham [q. v.] were at the time attracting much attention, and offered his services to Clapperton, refusing better-paid employment in south America. With Clapperton Lander went to Western Africa, and was his devoted attendant duin his second and last expedition into the interior until his death in 1827. Lander then made his way to the coast, reporting Clapperton's death to Denham, who was on a visit to Fernando Po, and by whom the news was sent to England. Lander followed with Clapperton's papers, arriving at Portsmouth in April 1828. To Clapperton's published ‘Journal,’ was added the ‘Journal of Richard Lander from Kano to the Coast,’ London, 1829 4to. Lander afterwards published 'Records of Captain Clapperton's last Expedition to Africa, and the subsequent Adventures of the Author [R. Lander],’ London, 1830, 2 vols. 12mo.
At the instance of Lord Bathurst (1762–1834) [q. v.] Lander undertook a fresh expedition to explore the course and termination of the Niger. His wife was to receive 100l. a year from government during his absence, and Lander himself was promised a gratuity of one hundred guineas on his return. Accompanied by his younger brother, John Lander (1807–1839) [q. v.], he left Portsmouth 9 Jan. 1830, and reached Cape Coast Castle on 22 Feb. Proceeding thence to Accra and Bogádry, the travellers on 17 June reached Boussa (Bussa), a place on the left bank of the Niger, where Mungo Park met his fate. Thence they ascended the stream about one hundred miles to Yaoorie, the extreme point reached by their expedition. Returning to Boussa on 2 Aug. 1830, the travellers commenced the descent of the tortuous stream in canoes, in utter ignorance whither it would carry them. At a place called Kerrie they were plundered and cruelly maltreated by the natives. At Eboe (Ibo) the king made them prisoners, and demanded a heavy ransom, which was only obtained after long delay. Eventually they penetrated the forest-clad delta to the mouth of the Nun branch in the Bight of Biafra, thus setting at rest the question of the course and outlet of the great river Quorra (the Arabic name of the Niger river), ‘the Nile of the Negros’ (cf. Johnston, Dict. of Geogr. under ‘Niger’). On 1 Dec. 1830 the brothers were put ashore at Fernando Po, and, after visiting Rio Janeiro on their way, arrived home in July 1831. They were greeted with much enthusiasm. Richard Lander received the royal award of a gold medal, or an equivalent in money, placed at the disposal of the newly formed Royal Geographical Society of London, of which he thus became the first gold medallist. John Murray, the publisher, offered the brothers one thousand guineas for their journals, which, edited by Lieutenant (afterwards Commander) Alex. Bridport Becher, R.N., editor of the ‘Nautical Magazine,’ were published under the title of ‘Journal of an Expedition to explore the Course and Termination of the Niger,’ London, 1832, 3 vols. 12mo. The work was included, as part xxviii., in the ‘Family Library.’ Translations have appeared in Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Swedish.
Early in 1832 some merchants at Liverpool formed themselves into an association with the object of sending out an expedition, under the guidance of Richard Lander, to ascend the Niger and open up trade with the countries of Central Africa. The expedition was furnished with two steamers, one named the Quorra, of 145 tons burden and 50 horse-power; the other Alburka (signifying in Arabic ‘The Blessing’), built of iron, of 55 tons burden. They were to be accompanied to the west coast by a brig carrying coal and goods for barter. Lander started with the little armament from Milford Haven on 25 July, and reached Cape Coast Castle, after many disasters, 7 Oct. 1832. Illnesses and mishaps innumerable delayed the progress of affairs; but in the end the steamers ascended the river for a considerable part of its course, afterwards returning to Fernando Po for fresh supplies of cowries, &c. Leaving the steamers in charge of Surgeon Oldfield, Lander then returned to the Nun mouth, and thence began reascending the river in canoes. At a place called Ingiamma the canoes were fired upon and pursued some distance down stream by the Brass River natives. Lander, who had great faith in and influence with the natives generally, received a musket-ball in the thigh, which could not be extracted. He was removed to Fernando Po, and was carefully attended in the house of the commandant, Colonel Nicolls; but mortification set in suddenly, and he died (according to different statements) on 2 or 7 Feb. 1834. He was buried in the Clarence cemetery, Fernando Po. A monument was placed by his widow and daughter, by permission, in the royal chapel of the Savoy, London, but was destroyed by the fire of 7 July 1864. It has now been replaced by a stained-glass memorial window, put up by the Royal Geographical Society. A Doric memorial shaft in Lemon Street, Truro, was erected by public subscription, and dedicated with some ceremony in 1835, but fell down through defective workmanship the year after. It now bears a statue of Lander by the Cornish sculptor, Nevill Northey Burnard [q. v.] Lander's portrait by William Brockedon [q. v.], which has been engraved by C. Turner, hangs in the council-room of the Royal Geographical Society. A government pension of 70l. a year was given to his widow, and a gratuity of 80l. to his daughter. The story of Lander's last expedition is told in ‘Narrative of an Expedition into the Interior of Africa in Steamers, in 1832, 1833, 1834. … By Macgregor Laird and R. A. K. Oldfield, the surviving officers of the Expedition,’ London, 1835.
In person Lander was very short and fair. His journals show that he possessed considerable intellectual powers, as well as great muscular strength and an iron constitution, and the passive courage which is so essential a qualification in an African traveller. His manners were mild, unobtrusive, and pleasing, which, joined to his cheerful temper and handsome, ingenuous countenance, made him a special favourite.
A portrait of Lander is pretixed to his 'Records of Clapperton's Last Expedition,' 1830.
[Tregellas's Cornish Worthies, London, 1884, vol. ii.; R. Lander's Records of Captain Clapperton's Last Expedition. London, 1830; R. and J. Lander's Journal of an Expedition to explore the Course and Termination of the Niger, London, 1832: Macgregor Laird and Oldfield's Narrative of an Expedition into the Interior of Africa, London, 1835; Johnston's Dict. of Geogr. London, 1877: Annual Biog. and Obituary. 1834; Commander William Allen's Picturesque Views on the River Niger, 1840.]