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Timeline of Scottish History

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William Balfour Explorer

William Balfour Blaikie / Explorer

  • Name  : Blaikie
  • Born  : 1825
  • Died  : 1864
  • Category  : Explorers
  • Finest Moment : Opening up the River Niger to navigation.

Born in Kirkwall, Orkney, Blaikie studied medicine at Edinburgh University, joining the Royal Navy as a surgeon in 1848. In 1854 he was the surgeon/naturalist on the schooner Pleiad, exploring the Niger river in West Africa. On the death of the captain, Blaikie took over the command of the ship, and succeeded in penetrating some 250 miles further inland than previous explorations. This success was due in part to a successful method of avoiding malaria. He returned and published a book on the voyage in 1856.

The following year Blaikie was back on the Pleiad again, but not for long as it was wrecked. He created a settlement at Lukoja, where the Niger and Benue Rivers join, and within five years he had opened up the navigation of the Niger, built roads, collated a native vocabulary, and translated part of the Bible and Prayer Book into Hausa.

He died when on leave, at Freetown in Sierrra Leone, in 1864.

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