Letter from Sir Samuel White Baker,
[printed] 34 Chester Terrace,
[handwritten] 28 Jul / 66
Please send my Pass book made up.
- Alan Cole. Sir Samuel White Baker, KCB, FRS, FRGS (8 June 1821 – 30 December 1893) was a British explorer, officer, naturalist, big game hunter, engineer, writer and abolitionist.
His brother John Garland Baker married Henrietta's sister Eliza Heberden Martin and after a double wedding, the four moved to Mauritius, overseeing the family's plantation. After spending two years there the desire for travel took them in 1846 to Ceylon, where in the following year he founded an agricultural settlement at Nuwara Eliya, a mountain health-resort.
Aided by his family, he brought emigrants from England, together with choice breeds of cattle, and before long the new settlement was a success.
Baker went to the Vidin slave market. There, Baker fell in love with a white slave girl, destined for the Ottoman Pasha of Vidin. He was outbid by the Pasha but bribed the girl's attendants and they ran away in a carriage together and eventually she became his lover and wife and accompanied him everywhere he journeyed.
After a year spent on the Sudan–Ethiopian frontier, during which time he learned Arabic, explored the Atbara river and other Nile tributaries, and proved that the Nile sediment came from Ethiopia, he arrived at Khartoum, leaving that city in December 1862 to follow up the course of the White Nile.
Two months later at Gondokoro he met Speke and Grant, who, after discovering the source of the Nile, were following the river to Egypt.
Baker never received quite the same level of acclamation granted to other contemporary British explorers of Africa.
Queen Victoria, in particular, avoided meeting Baker because of the irregular way in which he acquired Florence, not to mention the fact that during the years of their mutual travels, the couple were not actually married.
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