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Samuel White Baker Letters

An inventory of his letters at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRR
Date: Oct 2006

Biographical History

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.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Samuel White Baker Letters consist of three signed letters from Baker. In one, written in response to a note congratulating him on his knighthood, Baker says "I can only regret [?] that poor Capt. Speke died unhonored by the Queen after all his labor and difficulties."


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Baker, Samuel White, Sir, 1821-1893


Explorers and exploration



Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Samuel White Baker Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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