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Sir Samuel White Baker

Sir Samuel White Baker (1821-1893)

Sir Samuel White Baker (8 June 1821 - 30 December 1893) was an English explorer.

He was born in London, and educated partly in England and partly in Germany. His father, a West India Company merchant, destined him for a commercial career, but a short experience of office work proved him to be entirely unsuited to such a life.
On 3 August 1843 he married Henrietta Biddulph Martin, daughter of the rector of Maisemore, Gloucestershire. Henrietta died in 1855.
In 1859, while traveling to Constantinople, with Maharajah Duleep Singh, he purportedly bought a Transylvanian girl, Florenz Barbara Maria Szász, at a white slave auction in Vidin (now in Bulgaria). Renamed Florence, she became his second wife many years later, just before Baker returned to England for good.
After two years in Mauritius the desire for travel took him in 1846 to Ceylon, where in the following year he founded an agricultural settlement at Nuwara Eliya, a mountain health-resort.
Aided by his brother, he brought emigrants from England, together with choice breeds of cattle, and before long the new settlement was a success. During his residence in Ceylon he published, as a result of many adventurous hunting expeditions, The Rifle and the Hound in Ceylon (1853), and two years later Eight Years' Wanderings in Ceylon (1855). Baker’s hunting skills were renowned, and he once gave a demonstration to friends in Scotland of how he could, with dogs, successfully hunt down a deer armed only with a knife.
After a journey to Constantinople and the Crimea in 1856, he found an outlet for his restless energy by undertaking the supervision of the construction of a railway across the Dobrudja, connecting the Danube with the Black Sea. After its completion he spent some months in a tour in south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor.
In March 1861 he started upon his first tour of exploration in central Africa. This, in his own words, was undertaken "to discover the sources of the river Nile, with the hope of meeting the East African expedition under Captains Speke and Grant somewhere about the Victoria Lake." After a year spent on the Sudan-Abyssinian border, during which time he learned Arabic, explored the Atbara river and other Nile tributaries, and proved that the Nile sediment came from Abyssinia, 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. Their success made him fear that there was nothing left for his own expedition to accomplish; but the two explorers gave him information which enabled him, after separating from them, to achieve the discovery of Albert Nyanza (Lake Albert), of whose existence credible assurance had already been given to Speke and Grant. Baker first sighted the lake on March 14, 1864. After some time spent in the exploration of the neighbourhood, Baker demonstrated that the Nile flowed through the Albert Nyanza. He formed an exaggerated idea of the relative importance of the Albert and Victoria lake sources in contributing to the Nile flow rate. Although he believed them to be near equal, Albert Nyanza

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