Gordon Alexander Laing (1793-1826)
Without doubt the most dashing of all the Englishman who ever set out for Africa adventure during the Georgian age, Alexander Gordon Laing was a cut above the rest. Introduced to West Africa while posted in Sierra Leone as a soldier, Laing took a keen interest in the geography of the region, certain that he had located the source of the Niger River.
Proposing to the African Association that he might travel the length of the it, Laing raised hopes in London by suggesting he might reach Timbuctoo by sailing down the river. Rather than make the expedition through West Africa to the supposed golden city, Laing was instructed by the African Association to proceed from north to south – a far greater distance, and one dominated by the merciless sands of the Sahara.
In February 1825, Laing departed from England, and reached Tripoli, where he married the daughter of the British Consul. And then, almost immediately, he set off southward, enduring terrible trials and tribulations, on his way towards Timbuctoo. Having been attacked and wounded in two-dozen places, and losing his right hand in the process, Laing eventually reached Timbuctoo, in August 1826.
He was known to have left the city a month or so later, but was never heard of again.