Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/473

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


to J. F. Stephens's ‘Catalogue of British Lepidoptera’ [in the British Museum], 2nd edit. 1856: to ‘The Tineina of North America, by Dr. B. Clemens,’ 1872; and to ‘The Larvæ of the British Butterflies and Moths, by W. Buckler,’ 4 vols. Ray Society, 1886–91.

[Proc. Roy. Soc. lii, obit. p. ix; Times, 12 Dec. 1892; Entomological Monthly Mag. 1893, p. 1, &c., with portrait; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Roy. Soc. Cat.]

B. B. W.

STAIR, Earls of. [See Dalrymple, Sir John, first earl, 1648–1707; Dalrymple, John, second earl, 1673–1747; Dalrymple, John, fifth earl, 1720–1789; Dalrymple, John, sixth earl, 1749–1821; Dalrymple, Sir John Hamilton Macgill, eighth earl, 1771–1863.]

STAIR, first Viscount. [See Dalrymple, Sir James, 1619–1695.]

STAIRS, WILLIAM GRANT (1863–1892), captain and traveller, third son of John Stairs (d. 1888) of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and of his wife Mary Morrow (d. 1871), was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 1 July 1863. He was educated until the autumn of 1875 at Fort Massey Academy, Halifax, and afterwards at Merchistoun Castle, Edinburgh, until July 1878, when he passed into the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In September 1882 he went to New Zealand, where he was employed as a civil engineer in plotting and mapping the district near Hawke's Bay. On 30 June 1885 he was gazetted to be a lieutenant in the royal engineers, and he then went through a course of professional instruction at Chatham. This was completed in 1886, and at the end of that year he was the first candidate selected by Mr. H. M. Stanley for service on the Emin Pasha relief expedition. He sailed with the expedition, on leave from the war office, on 20 Jan. 1887, and arrived at the Congo river on 18 March. The expedition reached Leopoldville, near Stanley Pool, on 22 April, and the advance in steamers up the river commenced on 3 May. At Bolobo on 12 May the expedition was formed into two columns. Stairs accompanied the advanced column under Stanley, and commanded the second company of Zanzibaris. Yambuya, thirteen hundred miles from the sea, was reached on 15 June, and there the rear column was left behind under Major Walter Barttelot, James Sligo Jameson [q. v.], Mr. J. R. Troup, and Mr. Herbert Ward.

The march of the advanced column eastward from Yambuya commenced on 28 June 1887. A little later Stanley, writing of the qualities of the four members of his staff then with him (i.e. Stairs, Capt. R. H. Nelson, Mr. A. Mounteney Jephson, and Surgeon Thomas Heazle Parke [q. v.]), observed: ‘Stairs is the military officer, alert, intelligent, who understands a hint, a curt intimation, grasps an idea firmly, and realises it to perfection.’ On 13 Aug. at Avisibba, in one of the many attacks by natives, Stairs was wounded by a poisoned arrow, but, under the skilful care of Surgeon Parke, recovered. Then followed a terrible march of 156 days in the twilight of a primeval tropical forest. The little army dropped fifty men on 20 Sept. at Ugarrowa's settlement, and on 6 Oct. left Nelson and Parke and fifty-two men at Kilonga-Longa's. But Stairs, with Mr. Stanley and the rest of the party, emerged out of the forest into open country near Indesura on 4 Dec. 1887. A successful fight with natives took place on 10 Dec., Stairs leading one of the columns; and desultory engagements continued until, on 13 Dec., Mr. Stanley and Stairs reached the Albert Nyanza.

Unable to learn anything of Emin Pasha or to obtain canoes on the lake, the expedition on 17 Dec. retraced its steps to West Ibwiri, where Fort Bodo was constructed. On its completion, on 18 Jan. 1888, Stairs was despatched with a hundred men to bring up Nelson and Parke. By 12 Feb. Stairs had successfully accomplished his mission, which involved a journey of seventy-nine miles each way. Four days later he was sent to escort couriers as far back as Ugarrowa's (183 miles) and see them safely across the river. Later in the year Mr. Stanley left Stairs in command at Fort Bodo while he went in search of the rear column, of which nothing had long been heard.

Mr. Stanley returned without any information on 20 Dec. 1888, and on the 27th Stairs was sent forward with a hundred rifles to hold the ferry at Ituri River. On 9 Jan. 1889 Fort Bodo was burned, and the whole force crossed the river and established a camp in the village of Kandehoré, on the east side. Here Stairs was left in command, in company with Parke, while Mr. Stanley went to find Emin and Mr. Jephson. Stairs joined Mr. Stanley on 18 Feb. at Kavalli's on the Albert Nyanza, where Emin Pasha had already arrived. On 10 April a start for Zanzibar was made, the column being fifteen hundred strong. On 6 June Stairs was sent with a party to explore Ruwenzori, or the ‘Mountain of the Moon.’ He was only able, through lack of supplies, to ascend some ten thousand feet. Zanzibar was reached on 6 Dec. 1889.

Stairs arrived in England in January 1890, and was appointed adjutant of the royal engineers at Aldershot. He received from the