Baker, Samuel White, Sir, 1821-1893

Alternative names
Birth 1821-06-08
Death 1893-12-30

Biographical notes:

Samuel White Baker was born in London and educated in England and Germany. His father, a merchant with the West India Company, wanted his son to follow in his footsteps, but young Samuel chose instead the life of an adventurer. He founded an immigrant colony in Ceylon, published several books on hunting, supervised the construction of a railway connecting the Danube with the Black Sea, and bought a Hungarian slave girl in Bulgaria (whom he rechristened "Florence" and eventually married). She accompanied him on his explorations of Central Africa where information from two other explorers, John Speke and James Grant, led him to discover Albert N'yanza (Lake Albert), through which flows the Nile. Both the Royal Geographical Society and the Paris Geographical Society awarded him gold medals for his journeys, and he was knighted in 1866. In 1869 Sir Samuel commanded a military expedition to the Nile regions of Africa to suppress the slave-trade there and open the way for commerce; for this he was given the rank of pasha and major-general in the Ottoman army. In 1874 he and Lady Baker returned to England where he purchased Sandford Orleigh, an estate in Devon. Baker continued to travel the globe for big-game hunting and for pleasure, wrote a number of books based on his experiences, and corresponded regularly with a number of people on Egyptian affairs. He died at Sandford Orleigh in 1893.

From the guide to the Samuel White Baker Letters, 1866-1869, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

African explorer and traveller.

From the description of Letter, 1888 May 27, [Devon], to Edward D. Peters, Walpole, Mass. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 173965327

English explorer in Africa.

From the description of Autograph letter signed "Baker" : Ismailia, to the Duke of St. Albans, 1873 May 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270870241

British author and traveler.

From the description of Correspondence, 18--. (University of Nevada, Reno). WorldCat record id: 40171108


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  • Explorers and exploration


  • Cartographer
  • Explorers


  • Africa (as recorded)
  • Sudan (as recorded)