Richard Lander - Explorer

Richard Lander
Richard Lander

Richard Lander was born in 1804 at the Fighting Cocks Inn, Truro which later became the Dolphin Inn. He first left England at the age of eleven when he sailed to the West Indies on a merchant ship. Prior to doing this, he had walked all the way to London at the age of nine. After his return in 1818, he worked as a servant with several wealthy families, travelling to Europe with them.

His first trip to Africa was in 1823, when he visited the Cape of Good Hope returning the following year. In 1825 he accompanied Lieutenant Clapperton to West Africa. Unfortunately Clapperton died whilst they were there and Lander made his way back alone. In 1830 he published an account of this expedition. That same year, he went on a government expedition to discover the source of the River Niger in Africa. On this occasion, he was accompanied by his brother, John, and they sailed hundreds of miles along the Niger in a canoe.

Richard Lander Monument - Truro
Lander Monument

Lander was awarded the first gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1832, the year in which he published the account of their expedition. Soon after this they set out on a further exploration of the region. Sadly, Richard Lander died in Fernando Po, at the age of thirty. This was following an attack by natives whilst he was on a trade expedition to the area.

Richard Lander left his mark in Africa when he named Truro Island in the Niger River. He also gave a hill on the river bank the name of Cornwall Mountain. A statue commemorating the Lander brothers was erected in 1852 at the top of Lemon Street in Truro.