Frederick Burnaby, soldier, traveller and adventurer
British soldier, traveller and adventurer. Frederick Burnaby was born in Bedford on the 3rd March 1842. He was educated at Bedford Grammar School and Harrow. In 1859 he joined the Royal Horse Guards and was made Colonel in 1881.
During 1875 he travelled with General Gordon in the Sudan and that winter he journeyed across the Russian Steppes on horseback. This extremely hazardous and dangerous venture resulted in the book 'Ride to Khiva' (1876). Throughout 1876-78 he travelled through Asia Minor and Armenia, later writing about his journey in 'Horseback through Asia Minor'.
In 1882 he crossed the Channel to Normandy in a balloon, making him the first balloonist to cross the Channel alone. He was killed by a spear wound at the battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan on 17th January 1885. His will, reported in the Times of the 8th May 1885 noted that he left a personal estate amounting to £17,000 to his widow Mrs Elizabeth Alice Frances Hawkins Burnaby.
A marble memorial was erected by HRH the Prince of Wales, Col. Milne-Home and the officers of the Royal Horse Guards in Holy Trinity Church, Windsor (reported in the Times 18th December 1885). A memorial window was also placed in the Bedford Church of St. Peter de Merton with St. Cuthbert.
The National Portrait Gallery has a very elegant portrait of Burnaby painted by James Tissot in 1870.
Copies of the Frederick Burnaby's publications listed below are held in the Heritage Library, Bedford.
- On horseback through Asia Minor. (2 vols. 2nd Edition. 1877)
- A Ride to Khiva: Travel and Adventures in Central Asia (6th Edition. 1877)
- A Ride Across the Channel and Other Adventures in the air (1882)