Joseph Thomson

1858 - 1895

African explorer. Born at Penpont (Dumfries and Galloway) and brought up from the age of 10 at Gatelawbridge, Thomson studied at the University of Edinburgh. He joined the Royal Geographical Society expedition to Lake Nyasa (Malawi) in 1878 and took charge of the expedition when its leader, Keith Johnston (1844-79) died. He explored routes through Kenya and Tanzania (1879-84) and first spotted Thomson's Gazelle, which is named after him. He also explored Nigeria (1885) and Morocco (1888). Thomson was honoured by the Royal Geographical Society in London, who had supported much of his work.

The diseases he caught on his travels destroyed his health, and he died aged only 37 years. He lies buried in Thornhill and is remembered by a memorial in the town, opposite the school he attended as a boy.

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