1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Moorcroft, William

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MOORCROFT, WILLIAM (c. 1770-1825), English traveller, was born in Lancashire, about 1770. He was educated as a surgeon in Liverpool; but on completing his course he resolved to devote himself to veterinary surgery, and, after studying the subject in France, began practice in London. In 1795 he published a pamphlet of directions for the medical treatment of horses, with special reference to India, and in 1800 a Cursory Account of the Method of Shoeing Horses. Having been offered by the East India Company the inspectorship of their Bengali stud, Moorcroft left England for India in 1808. Under his care the stud rapidly improved; in order to perfect the breed he resolved to undertake a journey into Central Asia to obtain a stock of Turkoman horses. In company with Captain William Hearsey, and encumbered with a stock of merchandise for the purpose of establishing trade relations between India and Central Asia, Moorcraft left Josimath, well within the mountains, on the 26th of May 1812. Proceeding along the valley of the Dauli, they reached the summit of the frontier pass of Niti on the 1st of July. Descending by the towns of Darba and Gartok, Moorcroft struck the main upper branch of the Indus near its source, and on the 5th of August arrived at the sacred lake of Manasarowar. Returning by Bhutan, he was detained some time by the Ghurkas, and reached Calcutta in November. This journey only served to whet Moorcroft's appetite for more extensive travel, for which he prepared the way by sending out a young Hindu, who succeeded in making extensive explorations. In company with him and George Trebeck, Moorcroft set out on his second journey in October 1819. On the 14th of August the source of the Beas (Hyphasias) was discovered, and subsequently that of the Chenab. Leh, the capital of Ladakh, was reached on the 24th of September, and here several months were spent in exploring the surrounding country. A commercial treaty was concluded with the government of Ladakh, by which the whole of Central Asia was virtually opened to British trade. Kashmir was reached on the 3rd of November 1822, Jalalabad on the 4th of June 1824, Kabul on the 20th of June, and Bokhara on the 25th of February 1825. At Andkhui, in Afghan Turkestan, Moorcraft was seized with fever, of which he died on the 27th of August 1825, Trebeck surviving him only a few days. But according to the Abbé Huc, Moorcroft reached Lhasa in 1826, and lived there twelve years, being assassinated on his way back to India in 1838. In 1841 Moorcroft's papers were obtained by the Asiatic Society, and published, under the editorship of H. H. Wilson, under the title of Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjāb, in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara, from 1819 to 1825.

See Graham Sandberg, The Exploration of Tibet (1904).