LAING

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LAING, Alexander Gordon, was born at Edinburgh, in 1794, entered the army, served for several years in the West Indies, and, in 1820, was sent, with the rank of lieutenant and adjutant, to Sierra Leone. In 1821-22, major Laing was despatched on several missions from Sierra Leone, through the Timannee,Kooranko and Soolima countries, with the view of forming commercial arrangements. On the last of these journeys, he had reason to believe that the source of the Niger (q. v.) lay much farther to the south than Park (q. v.) had supposed. At Falaba he was assured he might reach it in three days, had not the Kissi nation, in whose territory it was situated, been at war with the Soolimanas, with whom he then resided. (See his Journal.) In 1826, he undertook to penetrate to Timbuctoo (q. v.), and started from Tripoli, crossing the desert by way of Ghadamir. On his journey, he was attacked by a band of Tuaricks, who wounded him severely, and left him for dead. He, however, recovered, and reached Timbuctoo August 18, where he remained upwards of a month. Several letters were received from him while there, stating that he had collected ample materials for the geography of this part of Africa. Being obliged to leave Timbuctoo by the sultan of Masina, into whose power the city had fallen, he hired a Moorish merchant to accompany and protect him, on his route by Sego to the coast. Three days after leaving the city, he was murdered by the person who had undertaken to guard him. The fate of his papers is uncertain. It has been suggested by English reviews (Quarterly Re view, No. 84), that Rousseau, French consul at Tripoli, has become possessed of them. Caille gives a different account of his death. (See Narrative of Discovery in Africa, by Jameson, Wilson and Murray (Edinb. 1830), forming No. J6 of Harper's Family Library, New York, 1831.)