Sir Henry Morton Stanley was born as John Rowlands in Denbigh, Wales in 1841. He became a well-known explorer of Africa, and was also a soldier and journalist. His trip to Scotland in June 1890 was covered extensively in the press, and he visited Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.

RSGS Banquet, 9th June 1890

A banquet given by RSGS in the Waterloo Rooms, Edinburgh, was attended by 120 gentlemen, and after dinner the balcony was occupied by ladies. The tables were laid with gold plate and flowers, and at the back of the chairman was a miniature forest laid out with tall palms and grasses.

Stanley - Artefact - Menu for RSGS's banquet for HM Stanley, 1890 (cover)

Stanley - Artefact - Menu for RSGS's banquet for HM Stanley, 1890 (inside)

The cover and inside of the Menu and Toast List for the RSGS banquet in honour of HM Stanley, Monday 9 June 1890.

The menu card, printed in a pale green tint, was judged to be a beautiful work of art. Highlights of the menu include White Nile Soup, Salmon with Red Sea Sauce, Pigeon Cutlets à la Congo, Zanzibar Curry and Rice, Egyptian Quails and Cresses, Ivory Jelly, Niam Niam Cream, and Bananas à la Ruwenzori.

Stanley - Artefact - Seating plan for RSGS's banquet for HM Stanley (cover)

Stanley - Artefact - Seating plan for RSGS's banquet for HM Stanley (inside)

The cover and inside of the Plan of Table for the RSGS banquet in honour of HM Stanley, Monday 9 June 1890.

A copy of the seating plan was handed to each guest as they entered the banqueting hall, so that they would have no trouble finding their seats. The marks at the top of the plan are where paper clips, which were used to hold it in place, have eaten through the paper. The printing has also migrated through the paper with time.

The procession to the hall was preceded by three pipers who played a lively quickstep, then played at intervals throughout the evening. The Marquis of Tweeddale occupied the Chair, and on his right was HM Stanley. Also in attendance were Sir William Muir, Very Rev Dr Cameron Lees, Mr Mounteney Jephson, Lord Provost Boyd, Lord Justice-Clerk Dr Parker, Lord Young and Captain Nelson. The croupiers were Sir William Mackinnon Bart (Chairman of the Emin Pasha Relief Committee), Mr A L Bruce (Honorary Treasurer) Mr Ralph Richardson and Mr JG Bartholomew (Honorary Secretaries), and Mr A Silva White (secretary).

The banquet ended at 12.30am, and as Stanley drove away a crowd which had been waiting for him to appear, cheered.

Opening of the Society’s New Rooms, 10th June 1890

At 2.00pm the next day, Stanley formally opened RSGS’s new rooms at the National Portrait Gallery. He was accompanied by Mrs AL Bruce, Sir William Mackinnon, and his officers, and was received by the RSGS Council.  The Society’s new rooms consisted of a library, a council room and a long front hall for lectures. A large crowd had gathered outside the gallery and gave a hearty cheer on Stanley’s arrival, and again on his departure.

Stanley - Artefact - Ticket for opening of RSGS's rooms, 1890

Ticket for the opening of RSGS’s rooms, Tuesday 10th June 1890.

The opening ceremony took place in the long room and was chiefly attended by ladies.  In his speech, Stanley commended the two members of the Society who had made financial contributions to the Emin Pasha Relief Fund, and commented that the African Lakes Company and the British East Africa Company were mainly in the hands of Scotsmen.

Freedom of Edinburgh, 11th June 1890

Stanley’s engagements in Edinburgh ended with the presentation of the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh by the Lord Provost, in the Grand Hall at the International Exhibition. The crowd numbered 3,000, although many more had applied for tickets. The hall was divided into blocks, and for each block there were different coloured tickets so that the public could find their places, with 30 High Constables officiating as stewards inside the hall.

Stanley - Artefact - Invitation to presentation of freedom of Edinburgh to HM Stanley, 1890

Ticket for the presentation of the Freedom of Edinburgh to HM Stanley, 12.00 noon, Wednesday 11th June 1890.

Stanley and Mr and Mrs AL Bruce were accompanied to the event by four mounted policemen, and were greeted by loud cheers as they arrived. As Stanley made his way down the hall, the organist played See the conquering hero comes, and as he ascended the platform a cheer broke forth, and ladies waved their handkerchiefs in all parts of the hall.

You can download and read Stanley’s book, How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveries in Central Africa, including an account of four months’ residence with Dr Livingstone, from Project Gutenburg.