Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Early life and education
Alexandrine was the daughter of Philip F Tinné, a Dutch merchant who settled in England during the Napoleonic wars, who later returned to his native land, and of his wife, Baroness Harriet Van Steengracht-Capellan. Harriet, daughter of a famous Dutch Vice-Admiral, was Philip's second wife, and Alexandrine was born when he was sixty-three.
Young Alexandrine was tutored at home, and showed a proficency at piano and was an excellent photographer in the early years of glass-plate photography. When her wealthy father died when she was ten years old, it left her the richest heiress in the Netherlands.
She and her mother travelled extensively in Norway, Italy and the Middle East, and visiting Egypt. She is best known for her ascents of the Nile river to near Gondokoro, joining in the seach for the source. Miss Tinné left Europe again in 1861 for the Nile regions. Staying at the famous Shepheards Hotel in Cairo, and accompanied by her mother and her aunt, she set out on January 9, 1862. After a short stay at Khartum the party ascended the White Nile to a point above Gondokoro, and explored a part of the Sobat , returning to Khartum in November. Theodor von Heuglin and Dr Hermann Steudner having meantime joined the women at Khartum, the whole party set out in February 1863 for the uncharted Bahr-el-Ghazal. The intention was to explore that region and ascertain how far westward the Nile basin extended; also to investigate the reports of a vast lake in Central Africa eastwards of those already known, most likely the lake-like expanses of the middle Congo.
Ascending the Bahr-el-Ghazal, the limit of navigation was reached on March 10. From Meshra-er-Rek a journey was made overland, across the Bahr Jur and south-west by the Bahr Kosango , to Jebel Kosango , on the borders of the Niam-Niam country. During the journey all the travellers suffered severely from fever. Steudner died in April and Madame Tinné, Alexandrine's mother in June, and after many fatigues and dangers the remainder of the party reached Khartum in July 1864, where Miss Tinné's aunt died. Miss Tinné was devestated by the deaths, and returned to Cairo by Berber and Suakin.
The geographical and scientific results of the expedition were highly important, as will be seen in Heuglin's Die Tinnésche Expedition im westlichen Nilgebiet (1863-1864 (Gotha, 1865), and Reise in das Gebiet des Weissen Nils Leipzig, 1869). A description, by T Kotschy and J Peyritsch, of some of the plants discovered by the expedition was published at Vienna in 1867 under the title of Plante's Tinnéennes, and introduced 24 new species to science, including 19 species in the mint family.
In January 1869 she started from Tripoli with a caravan, intending to proceed to Lake Chad, and thence by Wadai, Darfur and Kordofan to the upper Nile. On the 1st of August, however, on the route from Murzuk to Ghat, she was murdered together with two Dutch sailors in her party, alledgedly by Tuareg in league with her escort. There are several theories as to motive, none of them proven. One is that her guides believed that her iron water tanks were filled with gold. It is also possible that her death came as a result of an internal political conflict between local Tuareg chiefs, one of whom may have been seen as too fond of Miss Tinne.
Tragically, her collections of ethnographic specimens housed in Liverpool, England were destroyed in the bombing raids of WWII, andd the church built in her memory in The Hague was similarly destroyed. A small marker near Juba in Sudan bears commemorating the great Nile explorers of the 19th century bears her name, as well as a window plaque in Tangiers. Many of her remaining papers and photographs are stored at the Royal Archives in The Hague.
Alternate spellings: Alexine Tinne, Alexandrine Tinne.
- Geographical Notes of an Expedition in Central Africa by three Dutch Ladies, John A Tinné (Liverpool, 1864)
- Travels of Alexine, Penelope Gladstone (London, 1970)
- Tochter des Sultans, Die Reisen der Alexandrine Tinne (in German only), Wilfried Westphal (Stuttgart, 2002)
- The Nile Quest, ch. xvi. Sir HH Johnston, (London, 1903).
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