About John Morton Rowlands
Note - I have just received a copy of Tim Jeal's biography* "Stanley The Imposible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer" and will add to/adjust the summary below as necessary in due course. CJB 5th Aug 2011
For the sake of simplicity he is referred to as Henry Morton Stanley in this summary.
Henry Morton Stanley born in Wales, American journalist and explorer, famous for his search for David Livingstone and his part in the European colonisation of Africa.
There is a lot of conflicting information and speculation written about Stanley's life, making it difficult to give an accurate summary of his life. Some claim that he was an evil man, others suggest his embellishments were to hide the stigma he felt over his impoverished beginnings. *Jim Beal's Biography is said to be a fair summary of his life.
Welsh Biography Online and other web pages suggest that Stanley was not who he seemed - "was a fantasist and pathological liar and many of the so-called ‘facts’ in his autobiography cannot be accepted. Though his date of birth can be confirmed as 28 Jan.1841 it is possible that his father not John Rowlands Jnr.
It is suggested in NLWJ 28 that the father was James Vaughan Horne , a Denbigh solicitor . There is no basis for the story of his rejection by his ‘father’, John Roland, nor for the account of hardship and cruelty in the Workhouse, the beating he gave his hated schoolmaster and the escape afterwards with a friend. John Rowlands d. 24 May 1854 (not 1843 ) aged 39. The biographer Cadwalader Rowlands was not related to Stanley and his biography has greater value than has been asserted."
Campaigns to raise a statue of him in Denbigh The Telegraph 25 Jul 2010 and another to restore a memorial to him which was pulled down in 1971 by anti-colonials, have met with opposition based on alleged sadistic and cruel activity. The Independent 19 Mar 2010
The Statue in Denbigh was unveiled on March 17 2011 - a life size bronze. At the unveiling of the statue, Selwyn Williams, a lecturer at Bangor University, representing opponents of the memorial, told reporters: "Stanley was one of the cruellest Victorian expeditionary surveyors. Needless to say all the statues of Stanley in Africa have been taken down a long time ago. They (Stanley and King Leopold II of Belgium) turned the Congo into the worst example of colonisation, brutal exploitation, enslavement and genocide in Africa. I'm sure most Welsh people share the view that Stanley's 'exploitation by warfare' in Africa was contemptible." From Those who Dared
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica "Modern research has shown his own account of ill treatment and a dramatic escape to be almost entirely a fantasy. There seem to have been no extraordinary events attending his departure from the workhouse at age 15, after receiving a reasonable education".
It would seem that he was notorious for making his own life story look different from reality, apparently changing many facts in his autobiography and other of his books. He apparently lied about his heritage and claimed to be born in USA. "Stanley has had something of a poor reputation, his name being associated with the atrocities in the Congo. He has been branded as racist and an agent of a vicious colonialism.
Recently, Tim Jeal, the only author who has had access to the Stanley papers in the Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale in Brussels has made a strong claim that these charges are unfair and were largely concocted by a conservative British establishment that shunned a swaggering, illegitimate Welshman with, admittedly, an enormous capacity to continually reinvent his life and his past".
In his autobiography(which may be somewhat embellished and fantasized according to the above sources) the picture he paints of his early life is very dramatic.
The autobiography presented by his wife Dorothy Tennant - including mostly his own writing - is worth reading. He was born John Rowlands on 28 Jan 1841 in Denbigh, Wales. His mother was unmarried and his first years were spent in the Workhouse. He wished to obliterate the stigma of pauperism that dominated his early years - "orphaned, homeless, friendless, destitute, he nevertheless was rich in self-reliance and self-control, with a trust in God which never failed him." He never knew his father, and was a teenager before he learned that his father (John Rowlands) had died within a few weeks of Henry Stanley's birth.
He was, in his own words, "spurned and disowned by my mother, beaten almost to death by my teacher and guardian, fed on the bread of bitterness". From his autobiography on the subject of his birth - " ... told that I had come from London in a band-box, and to have been assured that all babies came from the same place. It satisfied my curiosity for several years as to the cause of my coming; but later, I was informed that my mother had hastened from London to be delivered of me; and that, after recovery, she had gone back to the Metropolis leaving me in charge of my grandfather, Moses Parry, who lived within the precincts of Denbigh Castle."
He gives his birthplace as Denbigh, Wales on the 1901 Census Retruns for Pirbright, Surrey
(Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 598; Folio: 67; Page: 9.) Baptism - 19 Feb 1841 St. Hilary Parish Church, Denbigh, Denbighshire
(FreeReg entry also gives his birth date).
- County Denbighshire
- Place Denbigh
- Church St Hilary Parish Church
- RegisterNumber 1080
- DateOfBirth 28 Jan 1841
- BaptismDate 19 Feb 1841
- Forename John Parry Or
- Sex M
- FatherForename John
- MotherForename Elizabeth
- FatherSurname ROWLAND
- MotherSurname PARRY
- Father Occupation
- FileNumber 21463
His grandfather, Moses Price, cared for Henry (John) until 1847. After his grandfather died in 1847 he went to live with Richard and Mary Price for half a crown a week, paid by his uncles.
In the 1851 census Castle Hill, Denbigh -
- Richard Price, Head Mar 62 Shoemaker born Denbigh
- Jane Price Wife Mar 60
- Richard Price son u 30 Shoemaker
- Ellinor Price dau u 21 Dress maker
- Sarah Price dau u 19 House Servant.
When they found that the money paid was not sufficient and his uncles were not willing to pay more, Stanley was sent to the workhouse - "... Dick Price, the son, took me by the hand on day, Saturday, February 20th, 1847, and under the pretence that we were going to Aunt Mary at Fynnon Beuno, induced me to accompany him on a long journey."
He was taken to St. Asaph Union Workhouse. There is much written about his experiences in the work house, especially at the hands of James Francis - a one-handed schoolmaster . Francis appeared to have something to do with the death of one of Stanley's a classmates called Willie Roberts. When he heard of Willie's death, Stanley and several other boys snuck into the workhouse mortuary and discovered his body covered in scores of weals.
The 10 year John Rowlands can be seen amongst the inmates of the St. Asaph Union workhouse for 1851 - see the image loaded to documents on this profile. Link -
Stanley finally left the workhouse in 1856 after a violent showdown with Francis. According to his autobiography he was subjected to a violent beating by Francis, during which he booted the man in his face, breaking his glasses, causing him to stagger blindly before falling. The young Stanley then used the blackthorn that was to be used on himself and struck Francis until he brought himself to his own senses. Stanley and his friend Mose left the institute after ascertaining that Francis was alive Stanley had planned to wash himself of the blood, but they climbed the garden wall and ran off in the direction of Bod-fari. He hoped for a better life outside the Workhouse but found people outside harsh and forbidding - and they were scorned and abused. It dawned on the boys that they were outcasts. They took refuge ion an abandoned kiln that night. In the morning they resumed their flight. They approached a woman at a cottage who good to them, offering food and advice. They continued their flight to Denbigh, sleeping that night in a haystack. In Denbigh Mose took the pair to a house where Mose was affectionately received by his mother, who had been a servant in Moses Parry's household. It was here that Stanley heard of his paternal Grandfather, John Rowlands, who was a wealthy farmer owning 2 farms but who was of a "cross and bitter" disposition. He also heard that his father and died thirteen or fourteen years earlier. Stanley set out for Llys, Llanrhaidr the next morning. He saw his Grandfather Rowland and after telling him who he was was dismissed and told to leave. Stanley returned to the home of Mose. He next visited his Uncle Moses who fed him but did not offer to help him. He also visited his Uncle Thomas who ran the 'Golden Lion' but left the following morning in search of his cousin the school master Moses Owen. Moses had died 3 years before, and at the school stanley was interviewed by his son. He was offered the post of pupil-teacher - but was required to visit his Aunt in Tremeirchion to be properly equipped for the post. After a month he was ready and started working at the school. Things did not work out well due to the unkind treatment received at the hands of Mose Owen (Jnr.) and after 9 months he was sent back to his aunt and never recalled to the school. There he helped her on the farm.
After a visit from Aunt Mary's sister Maria from Liverpool Stanley was invited to Liverpool. He travelled by packet-steamer. His Uncle Tom received him well but life did not turn out as well as promised. Finances of the family were in dire straights. On an errand to one of the packet ships Stanley was offered the position of cabin-boy by the captain of the Ship Windemere. He decided to accept there and then. And Stanley was on his way to America. He ended up ashore in New Orleans, where he left the Windemere. In New Orleans he made friends with and was unofficially adopted by a mercantile agent named Henry Hope Stanley. Stanley acquired some business experience and took the name Stanley. When he was 21 Stanley had enlisted in the Confederate Army and on April 6, 1862 was preparing for battle at Shiloh. He fought for the south-states army in the American civil war from 1862, but was soon captured by enemy forces. To avoid staying in prison he changed side and became soldier in the north state forces.
Stanley became an ambitious journalist. He frequently improved his stories or simply made them up. But he was good at it and it kept the editors happy. In 1870 he was assigned by New York Herald to search for the missionary David Livingstone who had been reported missing in Africa for some time. Rumours were that he had been killed near Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone was already world famous and a best selling author. Any news about him could sell newspapers. Gordon Bennet Jr. , the owner of the New York Herald, was ready to pay a high price for the Livingstone story. Bennet employed Stanley to find the missing adventurer.
After preparing for almost a year, Stanley and his crew of around 170 men followed the same route as Livingstone. They started from the island of Zanzibar out of the East African coast. After several months of trekking Stanley caught up with Dr. Livingstone - greeting him with the famous words: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?".
In the following years Stanley returned to Africa exploring deeper into today's D.R. Congo and Uganda. Stanley traveled with several hundred men, modern equipment, a ship and plenty of weapons. He apparently despised the black Africans and was hard on his helpers, often whipping or chaining them as punishment for being "lazy". He used guns to force his men forward at high pace, destroying everything in his way and fighting wars with the local tribes. He managed to navigate on Lake Victoria and finally followed the Congo River all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
He was the first European to map these areas. In 1878 he went back to Europe loaded with Ivory and eager to tell of his findings. King Leopold II of Belgium hired Stanley as his personal head of a colonization project with almost unlimited resources. The official story was that the King had formed the "African International Association for development in Central Africa" - and Stanley was expected to make local contacts on his expedition. Once again in Africa Stanley started his expedition from the Atlantic coast and took with him hundreds of workers. He struggled his way into the Congo, put ships on the Congo River, constructed roads and railways, clearing all obstacles in the name of the Belgian King. He was very efficient in cheating or forcing the local chiefs to sell their land and submit to the appalling conditions of the new owner. Stanley became more and more brutal in his methods and did not hesitate to shoot the Africans. He soon conquered the country and King Leopold had complete control with what was now called the "Congo Free State". King Leopold earned a fortune selling concessions for rubber and mining in the Free State., Men were forced to work for him by taking women and children as hostages. The King's soldiers used torture, killing and started a tradition of cutting off hands to prove that their bullets were spent well.
The navigator and author Joseph Conrad wrote his famous novel Heart of Darkness after seeing with his own eyes what Leopold II were doing to Congo.
In 1908 the colony was finally turned over to the Belgian government and became "Belgian Congo"when some reforms were made. Stanley did an outstanding job for King Leopold II.
By the 1880s, he was publicly acclaimed as an authority on African exploration and geography. He received a gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society, became an international celebrity and was granted an audience with Queen Victoria.
In 1899 Stanley was knighted by the British crown and in 1895-1900 he sat in Parliament as a Liberal Unionist for North Lambeth. He retired with his wife, Dolly Tennant, to a country estate in Surrey, where he died at the age of sixty-three. They adopted a son - Denzil Morton Stanley.
He is buried at Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Pirbright, Surrey. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/33894481@N04/5054670429/
An Image of his gravestone is on Flicr.com]
National Probate Calendar 1861-1941 1904 - Ancestry.co.uk
STANLEY Sir Henry Morton of Furze-hill, Pirbright, Surrey and of 2 Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, Middlesex G.C.B. died 10 May 1904 at 2 Richmond Terrace. Probate London 29 June to Charles Coombe Tennant barrister-at-law and Robert Bright Marston esquire. Effects £145865 10s. 8d.
1841 Census Denbigh Castle -
- Moses Parry 60 Farmer Y born in the county
- Moses Parry 20 Y *Ellen Parry 15 Y
- Tho's Parry 14 Y ... Cath'e Parry 6 Y
This is likely to be the household of Stanley's grandfather as in his autobiography he speaks of his Uncles Moses and Thomas, and of the household being within the precincts of Denbigh Castle
There is an entry on the 1920 USA Census for Hampden, Longmeadow Massachusetts for a 26 year old Henry Morton Stanley, born in Massachusetts of English parents, a slaves manager with wife Avis Marie (28) and son Henry Morton aged 1 year 5 months. Does he link in to this family? -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morton_Stanley
Sir Henry Morton Stanley, GCB, born John Rowlands (28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904), was a Welsh journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and his search for David Livingstone. Stanley is often remembered for the words uttered to Livingstone upon finding him: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?", although there is some question as to authenticity of this now famous greeting. His legacy of death and destruction in the Congo region is considered an inspiration for Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, detailing atrocities inflicted upon the natives.
Henry Morton Stanley, 1890When Stanley was born in Denbigh, Wales, his mother, Elizabeth Parry, was just 19 years old. He never knew his father who died within a few weeks of his birth; there is some doubt as to his true parentage. His parents were unmarried, so his birth certificate refers to him as a bastard and the stigma of illegitimacy weighed heavily upon him all his life.
Originally taking his father's name of Rowlands, Stanley was brought up by his grandfather until the age of five. When his guardian died, Stanley stayed at first with cousins and nieces for a short time, but was eventually sent to St. Asaph Union Workhouse for the poor, where overcrowding and lack of supervision resulted in frequent abuse by the older boys. When he was ten, his mother and two siblings stayed for a short while in this workhouse, without Stanley realising who they were. He stayed until the age of 15. After completing an elementary education, he was employed as a pupil teacher in a National School.
New country, new name
In 1859, at the age of 18, he made his passage to the United States in search of a new life. Upon arriving in New Orleans, he absconded from his boat. According to his own declarations, he became friendly with a wealthy trader named Henry Hope Stanley, by accident: he saw Stanley sitting on a chair outside his store and asked him if he had any job opening for a person such as himself. However, he did so in the British style, "Do you want a boy, sir?" As it happened, the childless man had indeed been wishing he had a boy of his own, and the inquiry led not only to a job, but to a close relationship. The youth ended up taking Stanley's name. Later, he would write that his adoptive parent had died only two years after their meeting, but in fact the elder Stanley did not die until much later in 1878. In any case, young Stanley assumed a local accent and began to deny being a foreigner.
Stanley participated reluctantly in the American Civil War, first joining the Confederate Army participating in the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. After being taken prisoner he promptly deserted and joined the Union. He served in the Navy but eventually deserted again.
Following the Civil War, Stanley began a career as a journalist. As part of this new career, Stanley organised an expedition to the Ottoman Empire that ended catastrophically when Stanley was imprisoned. He eventually talked his way out of jail and even received restitution for damaged expedition equipment. This early expedition may have formed the foundation for his eventual exploration of the Congo region of Africa.
In 1867, Stanley was recruited by Colonel Samuel Forster Tappan (a one-time journalist) of the Indian Peace Commission, to serve as a correspondent to cover the work of the Commission for several newspapers. Stanley was soon retained exclusively by James Gordon Bennett (1795–1872), founder of the New York Herald, who was impressed by Stanley's exploits and by his direct style of writing. This early period of his professional life is described in Volume I of his book My Early Travels and Adventures in America and Asia (1895). He became one of the Herald's overseas correspondents and, in 1869, was instructed by Bennett's son to find the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who was known to be in Africa but had not been heard from for some time. According to Stanley's account, he asked James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (1841–1918), who had succeeded to the paper's management after his father's retirement in 1867, how much he could spend. The reply was "Draw £1,000 now, and when you have gone through that, draw another £1,000, and when that is spent, draw another £1,000, and when you have finished that, draw another £1,000, and so on — BUT FIND LIVINGSTONE!" In actuality, Stanley had lobbied his employer for several years to mount this expedition that would presumably give him fame and fortune.
Stanley travelled to Zanzibar in March 1871 and outfitted an expedition with the best of everything, requiring no fewer than 200 porters. This 7,000 miles (11,000 km) expedition through the tropical forest became a nightmare. His thoroughbred stallion died within a few days after a bite from a Tsetse fly, many of his carriers deserted and the rest were decimated by tropical diseases. To keep the expedition going, he had to take stern measures, including flogging deserters. Many missionaries of the day practiced tactics no less brutal than his, and Stanley's diaries show that he had in fact exaggerated the brutal treatment of his carriers in his books to pander to the taste of his Victorian public. Some recent authors suggest that Stanley's treatment of indigenous porters helps to refute his reputation as a brutal criminal. However, statements by contemporaries of Stanley like Sir Richard Francis Burton, who claimed "Stanley shoots negroes as if they were monkeys", paint a very different picture. Stanley found Livingstone on 10 November 1871, in Ujiji near Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania, and may have greeted him with the now-famous, "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?" This famous phrase may be a fabrication, as Stanley tore out of his diary the pages relating to the encounter. Even Livingstone's account of the encounter fails to mention these words. However, a summary of Stanley's letters published by The New York Times on 2 July 1872, quotes the phrase. However, Tim Jeal argues in his biography that Stanley invented it afterwards because of his "insecurity about his background".
The Herald's own first account of the meeting, published 2 July 1872, also includes the phrase: "Preserving a calmness of exterior before the Arabs which was hard to simulate as he reached the group, Mr. Stanley said: --
Doctor Livingstone, I presume?' A smile lit up the features of the hale white man as he answered: Yes, that is my name' ..."
Stanley joined Livingstone in exploring the region, establishing for certain that there was no connection between Lake Tanganyika and the River Nile. On his return, he wrote a book about his experiences : How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveries in Central Africa. This brought him into the public eye and gave him some financial success.
Henry Morton Stanley's first trans-Africa exploration
In 1874, the New York Herald, in partnership with Britain's Daily Telegraph, financed Stanley on another expedition to the African continent. One of his missions was to solve a last great mystery of African exploration by tracing the course of the River Congo to the sea. The difficulty of this expedition is hard to overstate. Stanley used sectional boats to pass the great cataracts separating the Congo into distinct tracts. After 999 days, on 9 August 1877, Stanley reached a Portuguese outpost at the mouth of the River Congo. Starting with 356 people, only 114 had survived of which Stanley was the only European.
He wrote about his trials in his book Through the Dark Continent.
Claiming the Congo for the Belgian king
Stanley was approached by the ambitious Belgian king Leopold II, who in 1876 had organised a private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he called the International African Society. The king spoke of his intentions to introduce Western civilization and bring religion to that part of Africa, but did not mention he wanted to claim the lands. Stanley returned to the Congo, negotiated with local leaders, and obtained fair concessions (that were later falsified to his advantage by the king). But Stanley refused to impose treaties that would cede sovereignty over their lands. He built new roads, but this also gave advantage to the slave traders. When Stanley discovered that the king had other plans, he remained on his payroll.
In later years, he spent much energy defending himself against charges that his African expeditions had been marked by callous violence and brutality. Stanley's opinion was that "the savage only respects force, power, boldness, and decision." Stanley would eventually be held responsible for a number of deaths and was indirectly responsible for helping establish the rule of Léopold II of Belgium over the Congo Free State. In addition, the spread of African trypanosomiasis across central Africa is attributed to the movements of Stanley's enormous baggage train and the Emin Pasha relief expedition.
Emin Pasha Relief Expedition
In 1886, Stanley led the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition to "rescue" Emin Pasha, the governor of Equatoria in the southern Sudan. King Leopold II demanded that Stanley take the longer route, via the Congo river, hoping to acquire more territory and perhaps even Equatoria. After immense hardships and great loss of life, Stanley met Emin in 1888, charted the Ruwenzori Range and Lake Edward, and emerged from the interior with Emin and his surviving followers at the end of 1890. (Turnbull, 1983) But this expedition tarnished Stanley's name because of the conduct of the other Europeans: British gentlemen and army officers. An army major was shot by a carrier, after behaving with extreme cruelty. James Jameson, heir to an Irish whiskey manufacturer, bought an eleven-year old girl and offered her to cannibals in order to document and sketch how she was cooked and eaten. Stanley only found out when Jameson had died of fever. Previous expeditions had given Stanley satisfaction, but this one had only brought disaster.
On his return to Europe, he married Welsh artist Dorothy Tennant, and they adopted a child, Denzil, who in 1954, donated some 300 items to the Stanley archives at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. Denzil died in 1959. Stanley entered Parliament as Liberal Unionist member for Lambeth North, serving from 1895 to 1900. He became Sir Henry Morton Stanley when he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1899, in recognition of his service to the British Empire in Africa. He died in London on 10 May 1904; at his funeral, he was eulogised by Daniel P. Virmar. His grave, in the churchyard of St. Michael's Church in Pirbright, Surrey, is marked by a large piece of granite inscribed with the words "Henry Morton Stanley, Bula Matari, 1841–1904, Africa". Bula Matari, which translates as "Breaker of Rocks" or "Breakstones" in Kikongo, was Stanley's name among locals in Congo. It can be translated as a term of endearment: for as the leader of Leopold's expedition, he commonly worked with the labourers breaking rocks with which they built the first modern road along the Congo River. It can also be translated in far less flattering terms, and it was suggested by Adam Hochschild that while Stanley understood it as an heroic epithet, his Congolese companions understood it in a mocking and pejorative tone.
In 1939, a popular film called Stanley and Livingstone was released, with Spencer Tracy as Stanley and Cedric Hardwicke as Livingstone.
Stanley appears as a character in Simon Gray's 1978 play The Rear Column, which tells the story of the men left behind to wait for Tippu Tib while Stanley went on to relieve Emin Pasha.
An NES game based on his life was released in 1992 called "Stanley: The Search for Dr. Livingston".
In 1997, a made-for-television film, Forbidden Territory: Stanley's Search for Livingstone, was produced by National Geographic. Stanley was portrayed by Aidan Quinn and Livingstone was portrayed by Nigel Hawthorne.
Stanley Electric Co., Ltd. of Japan, uses Stanley's family name in honour of his discoveries "that have brought light into many spots of the world undiscovered and hitherto unknown to mankind". The company produces light emitting diodes, liquid crystal displays, and lamps.
His great grandson, Richard Stanley, is a South African filmmaker and directs documentaries.
There is a hospital in St. Asaph, North Wales named after Stanley in honour of his birth in the area. It was the former workhouse in which he spent much of his early life. memorials to H M Stanley have recently been erected in St Asaph (which has caused local controversy for being phalic shaped) and in Denbigh (a statue of H M Stanley with an outstretched hand).
The 2009 History Channel series, Expedition Africa, documents a group of explorers attempting to traverse the route of Stanley's expedition in search of Livingstone.
Search for the Nile BBC 1971. A 5 hour series, much shot on location, which included H.M. Stanley and David Livingstone. (Although very highly regarded this has never been shown or released again by the BBC, but VHS copies can, with a little effort, be found.)
Henry Morton Stanley's Timeline
January 28, 1841
February 19, 1841
Denbigh, Denbighshire, Wales
July 12, 1890
May 10, 1904