A PRESENTATION INKSTAND COMMEMORATING CAMERON'S RETURN FROM HIS LIVINGSTONE EAST COAST EXPEDITION 1872-75 ON WHICH CAMERON BECAME THE FIRST EUROPEAN TO CROSS AFRICA FROM EAST TO WEST.
The presentation, from the inhabitants of Shoreham (where Cameron's father Jonathan Henry Lovett Cameron (1807-1888) was rector at the church of SS Peter and Paul) marked his triumphant homecoming. It was also recorded in a picture painted by Charles Cope (church of SS Peter and Paul, Shoreham). Cameron gave the expedition's colours to the church. A plaque relating to the colours laid up in the church reads: 'COLOURS OF THE LIVINGSTONE EAST COAST EXPEDITION/1873, 1874, 1875/PLACED IN THE CHURCH OF S.S. PETER & PAUL/SHOREHAM,/as a token of Thanksgiving/-By-/VERNEY LOVETT CAMERON, R.N./Commander of the Expedition/AND/IN Memory of/W.E. DILLON R.N. & R. MOFFAT,/Members of the Expedition, who sacrificed their lives in the great cause of African Exploration'. On his death, Cameron was buried in the church graveyard and he is further remembered there in a memorial window.
Cameron led an unremarkable career in the navy until 1870, when he began lobbying the RGS to send him on a Livingstone search expedition. His appeals failed initially, but after Dawson's RGS expedition was forestalled at Bagamoyo by the news of Stanley's discovery of Livingstone, Cameron's chance followed in 1872 when he was asked to set out to find and offer support to the missionary. Cameron set out from England with his close friend Dr W.E. Dillon on 30 November 1872. They were joined at Aden by Lieutenant Murphy and at Zanzibar by Livingstone's nephew, Robert Moffat. The expedition set out on 2 February 1873, but met difficulties from the start. Moffat died in May. 550 miles on, at Unyanyembe, the surviving three all went down with fever, with Cameron struck blind for six weeks. In late October they met up with the retinue of Livingstone's followers carrying his body to the coast. Dillon and Murphy joined the retinue (Dillon soon after killing himself with a rifle while delirious) but Cameron continued to explore, making Ujiji and Lake Tanganyika in February 1874, recovering Livingstone's papers and sending them to the east coast with his own journals. After exploring the southern extremity of the lake, he then continued west, exploring the connection of the Lualaba which he believed fed into the Congo and offered a navigable route to the west coast (as Stanley would prove). He met up with Tippu Tib, the Arab trader, who dissuaded him and took him south. He then joined the slaver Alvez and travelled along the watershed between the Congo and Zambezi, making a final forced march for the coast and arriving at Katombora on 7 November 1875, suffering from extreme symptoms of scurvy.
A modest and self effacing-man, he returned home to a hero's welcome, was promoted to the rank of commander in the Royal Navy, won numerous awards including the gold medal of the RGS, and published his account of the journey, Across Africa, in 1877.