Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lemprière, William

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LEMPRIÈRE, WILLIAM (d. 1834), traveller and medical writer, was third son of Thomas Lemprière of Jersey. He entered the army medical service when young, and by 1789 was attached to the garrison of Gibraltar. In the September of that year Sidi Mahommed, emperor of Morocco, sent a message to General O'Hara, the commandant at Gibraltar, asking that an English doctor might be sent to attend his son, Muley Absolom, who was suffering from cataract. Lemprière accepted the commission, and left Gibraltar on 14 Sept. 1789; on 28 Oct. he reached Tarudant, where he attended the prince with great success. His only rewards, however, were ‘a gold watch, an indifferent horse, and a few hard dollars.’ He was then summoned to Morocco itself, which he reached on 4 Dec., to attend some ladies of the sultan's harem. He was detained at Morocco a long time against his will, and was not allowed to leave till 12 Feb. 1790; here again he complains of the miserable remuneration awarded him. After his return from Morocco Lemprière published an account of his travels in ‘A Tour from Gibraltar to Tangier, Sallee, Mogadore, Santa Cruz, Tarudant, and thence over Mount Atlas to Morocco,’ London, 1791. The work supplies interesting details concerning the Moorish sultan's harem. A number of its minor inaccuracies were noticed in a ‘Corrective Supplement to Wm. Lemprière's Tour,’ by Francisco Sanchez, London, 1794. After his visit to Morocco Lemprière was appointed surgeon to the 20th or Jamaica regiment of light dragoons. He spent five years in Jamaica, and on his return to England published ‘Practical Observations on the Diseases of the Army in Jamaica,’ London, 1799. Lemprière left the army with the rank of inspector-general of hospitals, and resided for many years in the Isle of Wight. He died at Bath in 1834.

During his stay in the Isle of Wight he published two medical works: 1. ‘A Report on the Medicinal Effects of an Alumnious Chalybeate Water, lately discovered at Sandrocks, in the Isle of Wight,’ London, 1812. 2. ‘Popular Lectures on the Study of Natural History and the Sciences, as delivered before the Isle of Wight Philosophical Society,’ London, 1830.

[J. B. Payne's Monograph of the House of Lemprière; Watt's Bibl. Brit. vol. ii.; Gent. Mag. 1834, pt. ii.; Army Lists; Lemprière's own works passim.]

G. P. M-y.