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Famous sons – Richard Lander

Posted by on April 27, 2012 in History - No comments

Richard Lemon Lander was the son of a Truro innkeeper, born in the Daniell Arms. His explorations began as an assistant to the Scottish explorer Hugh Clapperton on an expedition to Western Africa in 1825. Clapperton died in April 1827 near Sokoto, present-day Nigeria, leaving Lander as the only surviving European member of the expedition. He proceeded southeast before returning to Britain in July 1828.

Lander returned to West Africa in 1830, accompanied by his brother John. They landed at Badagri on 22 March, 1830 and followed the lower River Niger from Bussa to the sea. After exploring about 160 kilometres of the River Niger upstream, they returned to explore the River Benue and Niger Delta. They travelled back to Britain in 1831.

In 1832, Lander returned to Africa as leader of an expedition organised by Macgregor Laird and other Liverpudlian merchants, with the intention of founding a trading settlement at the junction of the Niger and Benue rivers. However, the expedition encountered difficulties, many personnel died from fever and it failed to reach Bussa. While journeying upstream in a canoe, Lander was attacked by African tribesmen and wounded by a musket ball in his thigh. He managed to return to the coast, but died there from his injuries.

In Truro, a monument to his memory by Cornish sculptor Neville Northey Burnard stands at the top of Lemon Street and one of the local secondary schools is named in his honour. In 1832 he became the first winner of the Royal Geographical Society Founder’s Medal, “for important services in determining the course and termination of the Niger”.

Following the positive relationship developed with the Emir of Bussa during the recce, starting at New Bussa in the north of Nigeria, the team traversed nearly 500 miles of the river using canoes and local boats, to terminate at Asaba in the south of the country.

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