By Bernard Verdcourt
Captain Edward Coode Hore, FRGS, born in Islington on 23 July 1848, was the first collector of two of Lake Tanganyika’s most renowned endemics Chytra1 kirkii (Smith) and Tiphobia horei Smith apart from many other interesting species. The Coode in his name hints at some original Cornish origin but I have not researched his parents’ origins. Against his entry in the Register of L.M.S. Missionaries is the mention ‘Ch.m., Mariner’s Ch., Sydney’, which means he was a church member of that Australian church. A single letter written from 29 Stepney Green on 8 June 1876 (presumed 6 but shaved from photocopy) when he was applying for a mission post is all I have found mentioning his early years. This begins ‘I am seeking work in the Lord’s service’ and contains some information: ‘I am a seaman’, ‘I have had more than eleven years of sea life serving in sailing ships in various trades, in every capacity from boy to chief officer and also some time as an officer in the Mail Service (P. & 0. Co.). I have just resigned my position as Master of the Mission ? Cutter "Evangelist" and am a student of the East End Training Institute for Home and Foreign Missions’, ‘I long to be at work in the Mission field’. Whoever answered his letter arranged to see him on Tuesday, June 13th.
In 1877 he was appointed to the Lake Tanganyika Mission as scientific officer to a large expedition bound for the lake with the purpose of establishing a mission station including schools. He had special instructions to thoroughly survey the lake and study the ten tribes on the shores of the part chosen for the work. He planned to return to England after a preliminary assessment, marry his fiancée and take her back to the lake. He sailed for Zanzibar on 14 April 1877, arriving on 1 August (this seems an inordinate time since the Suez Canal had been open eight years; he must have stopped off somewhere – it could not take 3½ months).
He was determined to try wheeled transport and the journey from Saadani to Kirasa was carried out with bullock carts, but naturally all the beasts died due to tsetse flies, although he claimed that apart from that the system worked well! He remained at the Kirasa Mission until 29 May 1878 when he finally set off for the lake, arriving in Ujiji on 23 August. Saadani to Ujiji was according to Hore a total walking distance of 836 miles; it took him 86 days from Kirasa and he estimated the actual walking days for the whole journey as 50 which seems incredibly good going for a huge party of porters. He explored the southern part of the lake in 1880 between 17 March and 20 May in the Calabash. There are splendid maps in his RGS paper and in his wife’s book (see later) taken from a survey by ‘Mr Edward C. Hore Master Mariner’; they speak volumes for his efficiency. It may be material from this survey which is mentioned in Kirk’s letter to Gunther mentioned in a recent Newsletter (Verdcourt, 1991). Smith (1881) mentions material presented to the British Museum by a brother John Coode Hore. Presumably Edward sent the material to his brother via Sir John Kirk whom he must have met when he arrived in Zanzibar and who very likely first encouraged Hore to collect in the lake.
He left Ujiji on 3 November 1880 and arrived in England on 23 February 1881, when he married Annie Boyle Gribbon at Bedford on 29 March. I know nothing of her save the L.M.S. Register entry for her husband which gives after her name ‘Ch. M., Queen’s St., Ch. Leeds (Thomas). During his stay in England he passed the examinations for the rank of Master Mariner and he also gave an evening lecture to the Royal Geographical Society on 28 November 1881 entitled, ‘Lake Tanganyika’ (Hore, 1882) – the written account gives much detail of his first journey and is accompanied by two excellent maps.
He sailed again for Africa on 17 May 1882 arriving at Ujiji on 23 February 1883. He had with him2 sections of the lifeboat The Morning Star which was launched on the lake on 21 May 1883. He then proceeded to the south end of the lake in this craft in July to await the arrival of the sections of a steam vessel the Good News and to make arrangements for the reconstruction of the vessel. The sections were conveyed from Quelimane in Mozambique up the Zambesi and across to Lake Tanganyika by a route which had been worked out some years previously.
The Register of L.M. S. Missionaries states that ‘On June 11, 1884 Mrs. Hore left England and arrived at Zanzibar September 26th’, but it is a good deal more complicated than that and I have been very confused trying to find out the details. When Hore sailed on 17 May, his wife and small son of only three months accompanied him to Zanzibar together with eight others and several hundred packages. On arrival Annie was suffering from sunstroke and it was considered prudent she should not proceed that year so she returned to England. It was next arranged that she should be met by her husband at Queliniane, so she went round the Cape and arrived there in July 1884. A native uprising against the Portuguese rendered this southern route impossible preventing him from reaching her in time and she returned to Durban. Telegrams were sent from Zanzibar and Hore himself managed to send a telegram from Mozambique assuring her that he was safe and would await the arrival of a steamer from Delagoa Bay where they met after two years.
It proved impractical to go directly inland so they ended up in Zanzibar again after all and went across by the old route. The account which stated that ‘accompanied by her little son she arrived in Zanzibar on 26 September 1884 and made an initial unsuccessful attempt to reach her husband but later finally succeeded in joining him after a journey of 90 days from the coast after using the Saadani, Mpwapwa, Mgunda Mkali, Tabora, Urambo and Ujiji route’ is in direct contradiction to the previous statement. The date is correct and the route but Hore was with her. Presumably she was the first white woman to travel this route. It had been known for perhaps centuries to Arab ivory traders and slave hunters (and perhaps their wives or they may always have been left behind in Muscat). It had originally been decided that her vehicle would be one of Carters’ wicker bath-chairs with a broad double wheel adjustable as one or two wheels and further fitted with short poles for lifting the whole affair over difficult places like a palanquin. Her book with its fascinating title has a delightful decorated cover showing her being carried in this contraption by two natives. I have never seen a copy of this book for sale and have only once seen a reference by another author and that was in the bibliography to chapter one of Alexander Allen’s book on adventurous Victorian ladies (1980). This chapter concerns May French Sheldon who travelled in East Africa to Lake Chala and Kilimanjaro in 1891. Curiously, however, no reference is actually made to Annie Hore anywhere in this chapter. I suspect the missing mention has something to do with the mode of transport. May Sheldon had a most elaborate palanquin, a sort of waterwheel-shaped basket of great elegance, and presumably Allen meant to compare it with Annie’s much simpler conveyance but somehow it got left out. Hore’s obsession with wheels at a time when they were inappropriate caused him to announce that if all else failed he would ‘take his wife to Ujiji in a wheelbarrow’ but fortunately she was spared that indignity.
One intriguing mention on page 76 of Annie’s book indirectly concerns molluscs. Before entering the Mukondokwa River valley (a continuation of the Wami, 37-38°E, from the Kideta River to the Mbuzinii River well before Mpwapwa) they came upon the station of the African International Association (about which I have found out nothing) then occupied by Monsieur Bloyet who, however, was not present. Acting on a cordial invitation given on a former visit they stayed there three days. This is most interesting since Capt. Bloyet collected snails and sent them to Bourguignat. I have never found out any details about him other than that he was a French Army officer.
They lived on Kavala Island for a year or so close to the western shore opposite Towa (Toa, Mtowa), the old original Albertville, not the later place now called Kalémié on what is now the Zaire side; this was a healthy spot, the lake winds keeping it free from malaria. At the end of 1885 they moved into a new house and found it most comfortable; Annie was happy but admitted she would have welcomed another English woman’s conversation. She speaks quite highly of the tribal organisation in the lake area and says the people were civilised. They worked iron and copper, making tools and ornaments as well as weapons, made palm oil, pottery, grass and cotton cloth, palm fibre, etc.; their dried fish was sent far inland and their dairy farm produced butter. The fishing fleet used 200 canoes at a time. Annie gave up trying to get a female nurse for her son and had to employ a ‘nice respectable lad’. Even in 1949 I was surprised to find male servants doing jobs which in Europe would always have been done by a female servant. The reason why is difficult to understand; probably, since the female was the mainstay of the African economy she could not be spared whereas the drones could be put out to work – also females were subject to illicit liaisons with the many single white settlers and civil servants. It was a tradition which persisted although many families found that female staff worked much harder and more efficiently. Annie was clearly a most competent woman and took over the running of the station on several occasions when all the European males were away. It is a pity these pioneering women have been largely ignored by the writers describing the opening up of tropical Africa. Devotion to duty, of course, has never made very exciting reading!
The station curiously seems to have been on good terms with the notorious Tippu Tib, the enormously wealthy and wily old slaver who managed apparently to be a distinguished gentleman and a brutal gangster at the same time. He befriended many European travellers, having saved Livingstone from destitution and supplied Stanley with porters. It does appear strange he should have been so helpful to Christians bent on destroying slavery – it may just have been genuine concern for civilised travellers far from home, simple Arab hospitality in fact and also pleasure in different company for a change. The fact is, however, that Kirk more or less supported him because Tippu was virtually an agent of the Sultan of Zanzibar, so the helpful attitude could have been repayment for being left to slave without too much being said. One thing I feel certain of, he must have laughed at all these European explorers making such heavy weather of travelling and ‘discovering things for the first time’ which Arabs had mostly known about for very many years. He seemed to move effortlessly between Zanzibar, Ujiji and the Lualaba River and heaven knows where else. There is no doubt his support was extraordinarily valuable and at times crucial.
Annie reported, ‘We also keep up a friendly intercourse with the Roman Catholic Algerian Missionaries (this was certainly not the case in some places!) one of whom M. Vyneh sent us some plants and some European potatoes, a basket of cresses (a very hygienic salad). This kind good man sent for Jack when so ill a bottle of Malaga wine grown in their vineyard in Algeria and when here he aroused us all early one morning – at sunrise – by playing beautifully on the bugle "God Save The Queen". I was much pleased and touched at hearing such a home tune in the very heart of Africa’ (From a letter to E.W., Sept. 1886.)
She makes a most interesting reference to a Lt. Gleerup of the Swedish Army passing through in September 1886. He was crossing Africa having come from Stanley Falls on the Congo where he had been stationed for a year. This was a bare two years after Stanley had established the Congo Free State. Tourism had almost started. It must have been a tremendous event to have had a white visitor. Can any Swedish reader enlighten us about him?
During Hore’s second period of duty a great deal went on at the Mission. A little church was built and Rev. Lea, a good linguist, arrived to act as teacher; there was also a dispensary for which a doctor was requested from England. Hore noted that several workers duly arrived amidst the disturbances arising from the process of annexation of their share of tropical Africa by the Germans. One comment of interest to botanists is Hore’s report that Mr Alexander Carson, B.Sc. left England in March 1886 to become engineer at Kavala to complete the engine for the Good News. Riveting of the boiler took two months for two workers, and was made more difficult in that the dome part originally riveted in England had been separated at Nyasa for easier transport. Carson made collections of plants which are at Kew and at the time contained many undescribed species. Carson took over the boys’ school but returned home after five years of service; he does not appear to have collected any molluscs. He returned to Africa in 1892 and worked at Fwambo Mission some 50 miles south of the lake and died there in 1896 of blackwater fever. The Hores seem to have been pretty robust people. The entry in the missionary register immediately before Hore is an A.W. Dodgshun who was also appointed to the Lake Tanyanyika Mission at about the same time; he died eight days after arriving in Ujiji and many others died shortly after arrival.
In February 1886 Annie had written home to E.W. (the preface of her book is signed E.W. of Retford), ‘still in good health’, but unfortunately that was soon to change. Their son Jack had smallpox in March 1887 and at about the same time Annie herself became seriously ill. This must all have been very trying and worrying. It is certain that thoughts of leaving must have started passing through Hore’s mind. In 1888 he himself became ill and they left Kavala Island, arriving in England on 26 October 1888. All connection with Africa was then severed but he read a paper on the Lake in September 1889 to the geographical section of the British Association meeting in Newcastle and presumably he wrote his book during that year.
He sailed for Australia in 1890 having been ‘appointed a Deputation to visit the Australian Colonies’ and arrived in Melbourne on 25 April. His wife may have accompanied him but is more likely to have stayed at home. He resigned from the London Missionary Society on 31 December 1890 and visited the USA before returning to England arriving on 15 April 1891. On 20 December 1892 he was appointed by the Board a special Deputation for a year, and on 28 November 1893 was appointed first officer of the steamer John Williams of which he took command in September 1894. All the islands with mission stations associated with Australia were visited including New Guinea according to his own narrative (Hore, 1895). He appears to have collected nothing which came into scientific hands, which makes me feel all the more certain his collections in Lake Tanganyika were made at special request and not out of personal interest. He resigned command of the boat in February 1900 and they settled in Tasmania. The first entry of his name in Wise’s Tasmania Post Office Directory is given in 1903 listing him as a fruit grower at Lymington South (located on Port Cygnet, an arm of the Huon River south of Hobart). He was still there in 1905 but had moved to Claude Street, New Town, Hobart in 1908 where he lived until his death. From 1909 to 1912 he was principal of Sloyd School in Lord’s Road (now Carr Street). He died in hospital at Hobart in April 1912 in his 64th year. Annie lived for another ten years and died in Sydney on 28 April 1922 aged 69.
Hore’s book describing his years in Africa was published in 1892; the title page depicts ‘Typhobia’ horei (upside down) and there is a magnificent frontispiece showing Ujiji (rather different from my remembrance of it as it was over 70 years later). References to natural history in this book are sparse but he was certainly very much aware of the subject. On page 150 his main reference to it occurs: ‘So indeed is this great and wide sea the lake itself, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts’. His only mention of molluscs is on the same page: ‘Floating on the surface, hidden amongst the rocks I collected about thirty different kinds of shell fish from the mussel five inches to the tiny univalve like a pin’s head. Many of them are quite new to science the most unique (sic!) being the Typhobia horei described as "perhaps the most remarkable freshwater shell ever discovered." ‘ Annie also made some observations on the bigger creatures, mentioning the immense numbers of hippos and crocodiles in the lake. This prolific abundance has now long gone of course. I had the great privilege of seeing the last remnants of it in the mid-1950s while travelling in a boat on the River Nile near Pachwach in the half-light of the dawn; there were literally thousands of hippos and every sandbank disgorged over a score of crocodiles as we passed, and even two white rhinos came down to the water’s edge. I know exactly what she meant.
I am grateful to several people for helping me with sources of information I could not have discovered without assistance: to Mrs Janet Williams, Information Services, The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, for refering me to the Council for World Mission, successors to the London Missionary Society, and to the Rev. J. Handyman, lately archivist of that body for providing me with a copy of the entry in Sibree’s The Register of L.M.S. Missionaries; to Mrs R.E. Seton, Archivist, School of Oriental and African Studies, for looking at the Candidate’s papers for Hore and sending me a photocopy of the sole letter she found; to Mr G.W. Lewis for allowing me to use his Fellow’s card to gain access to the R.G.S. Library and finally to Tony Marshal, Manager, Tasmaniana Services, State Library of Tasmania, who searched for information about Hore in Tasmanian sources.
List of molluscs described from material collected by Capt. E.C. Hore in Lake Tanganyika
Limicolaria martensiana (Smith).
Limicolaria martesiana martensiana (Smith).
Bridouxia leucoraphe (Ancey).
Pseudoglessula ptychaxis (Smith).
Pseudospatha tanganicensis (Smith).
Gonaxis (‘Marconia’) lata (Smith).
Ptychotrema ujijiense (Smith).
Chytra kirkii (Smith) (altered to kirki by Smith, 1881).
Melanoides admirabilis (Smith).
Reymondia horei (Smith).
Reymondia pyramidalis Bgt.
Bridouxia ponsonbyi (Smith).
Pseudospatha tanganyikensis (Smith).
Unchanged (subg. Raffraya).
Lavigeria grandis (Smith).
Anceya terebriformis (Smith).
Grandidieria burtoni (Woodward).
There are several eponyms not based on his own material. Horea Bgt., 1888 was erected for Melania tanganyikensis Smith apparently a wrongly localised Lake Nyasa species. Rissoa subg. Horea Smith, 1889 (Horea (Smith) G.B. Sowerby, 1894) was renamed Lechaptoisia by Ancey in 1894. Unio horei Smith, 1880 (now Caelatura horei (Smith)).