Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Windus, John

WINDUS, JOHN (fl. 1725), author of ‘A Journey to Mequinez,’ was the historian of a mission despatched by George I in 1720 under Commodore Charles Stewart, with a small squadron and the powers of a plenipotentiary, to treat for a peace with the emperor of Morocco. The squadron sailed on 24 Sept. 1720, and in the following May a conference was held between the ambassador's party and the Basha Hamet Ben Ali Ben Abdallah at Tetuan. A treaty of peace, by which piracy was prohibited and the English prisoners released, was signed at Ceuta in January 1721, and Windus thereupon returned to England in Stewart's flagship, the Dover. Windus utilised the four months he spent on land in ‘Barbary’ to collect materials for an account of the Moors, and in 1725, with a dedication to ‘James, earl of Berkley, vice-admiral of England,’ he published ‘A Journey to Mequinez, the residence of the present Emperor of Fez and Morocco’ (Albumazer Muley Ishmael), London, for Jacob Tonson, 1725, 8vo.

No work on Morocco had hitherto appeared in English, with the exception of the somewhat meagre ‘West Barbary’ (1671) of Lancelot Addison [q. v.], and much interest was excited by Windus's book. An influential list of subscribers was obtained, and the volume rapidly went through several editions, and was pirated in Dublin. The author was assisted in his task by M. Corbière, who had at one time resided at the Moorish court, and the work was illustrated by engravings by Fourdrinier, the plates being dedicated to William Pulteney, Lord Cobham, the Duke of Argyll, and other distinguished persons. It was reprinted in the ‘Collection of Voyages’ of 1767, in the ‘World Displayed’ (1774, vol. xvii. 12mo), and in Pinkerton's ‘Collection of Voyages’ (1808, vol. xv. 4to). It was drawn upon to a large extent by Thomas Pellew [q. v.] in his ‘History and Adventure in South Barbary,’ written in 1739, and to some extent also in Thomas Shaw's ‘Travels or Observations relating to several parts of Barbary and the Levant’ (1738, folio). The description of the manners of the people and the methods of the government renders the book ‘a curiosity,’ as it was pronounced by James Boswell and by Stevenson (Cat. of Voyages and Travels, No. 598).

[Windus's Journey to Mequinez; Blackwood's Magazine, xxxi. 205; Budgett Meakin's Moorish Empire, 1899; Playfair's Bibliography of Morocco, 1892; an interesting supplement to Windus is supplied in John Braithwaite's History of the Revolutions in the Empire of Morocco, 1729.]

T. S.