Monthly Talk 12th March 2020


SPEAKER: David Baker

This lecture begins with General Gordon persuading Sir Samuel Baker that Baker, not Gordon should go out to Khartoum and face the fanatical Mahdi.

That was before this was discussed with Florence Baker, Sam's resolute wife!
Frustrated, General Gordon leaves the house immediately and is soon on his way to Khartoum, and death.

The lecturer, whose research includes the use of family papers, takes the audience back to the time when Sam and Florence put down the slave trade along the Nile south of Khartoum setting up the peaceful province of Equatoria which covered what is now Sudan and Northern Uganda. To supress the slave trade they had faced unbelievable difficulties; they had transported steamships across the desert by camel, the Nile was blocked by thick vegetation, devious officials opposed their work, slave traders deceived them at every turn and they even had to march for 70 miles being attacked on every side until “showers of spears passed our faces”. Throughout Florence is seen with pistol in her waistband, organising the defences, tending the wounded, and providing for exhausted and hungry troops. No wonder she did not relish a return to that life from the peace in their house in Devon.

Details about today's Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Trail will be made available at the end of the lecture. For further information see:


The Lecturer is the Great-Great Grandson of Sir Samuel Baker and has access to unique family documents about the expeditions of Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker and letters between General Gordon and Sir Samuel before and during the siege of Khartoum.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, David has travelled along the routes taken by Samuel Baker and with Julian Monro Fisher, Chris Baker and others set up a trail following the Baker's exploration of the source of the Nile.

David has recently lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, to societies in Devizes, to the Royal African Society in Bristol and to the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution as well as to the University of the Third Age.