Francis Buchanan-Hamilton

Francis Buchanan FRSE FRS FLS (15 February 1762 – 15 June 1829), later known as Francis Hamilton but often referred to as Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, was a Scottish surgeon, surveyor and botanist who made significant contributions as a geographer and zoologist while living in India. He did not assume the name of Hamilton until three years after his retirement from India.[1]

Francis Buchanan-Hamilton

Francis Buchanan

(1762-02-15)15 February 1762
Callander, Perthshire
Died15 June 1829(1829-06-15) (aged 67)
Other namesFrancis Hamilton, formerly Buchanan; Francis Hamilton; Buchanan-Hamilton; Francis Hamilton Buchanan; Francis Buchanan Hamilton
EducationUniversity of Edinburgh
Known forAn account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of London
Scientific career
InstitutionsCalcutta botanical garden, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Author abbrev. (botany)Buch.-Ham.
Author abbrev. (zoology)Hamilton, Hamilton-Buchanan

The standard botanical author abbreviation Buch.-Ham. is applied to plants and animals he described, though today the form "Hamilton, 1822" is more usually seen in ichthyology and is preferred by Fishbase.

Early life edit

Francis Buchanan was born at Bardowie, Callander, Perthshire where Elizabeth, his mother, lived on the estate of Branziet; his father Thomas, a physician, came in Spittal and claimed the chiefdom of the name of Buchanan and owned the Leny estate. Francis Buchanan matriculated in 1774 and received an MA in 1779.[2] As he had three older brothers, he had to earn a living from a profession, so Buchanan studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating MD in 1783. His thesis was on febris intermittens (malaria). He then served on Merchant Navy ships to Asia, and served in the Bengal Medical Service from 1794 to 1815. He also studied botany under John Hope in Edinburgh. Hope was among the first to teach the Linnean system of botanical nomenclature, although he knew of several others having been trained under Antoine Laurent de Jussieu.[3]

Career in India edit

Buchanan's early career was on board ships plying between England and Asia. The first few years were spent as surgeon aboard the Duke of Montrose sailing between Bombay and China under Captain Alexander Gray and later Captain Joseph Dorin. He then served on the Phoenix along the Coromandel Coast again under Captain Gray. In 1794, he served on the Rose, sailing from Portsmouth to Calcutta, and reaching Calcutta in September, he joined the Medical Service of the Bengal Presidency. He was also a superintendent of the Institution for Promoting the Natural History of India.[4] Buchanan's training was ideal as a surgeon naturalist for a political mission to the Kingdom of Ava in Burma under Captain Symes (as replacement for the previously appointed surgeon Peter Cochrane). The Ava mission set sail on the Sea Horse and passed the Andaman Islands, Pegu, and Ava before returning to Calcutta.[3]

Map illustrating Buchanan-Hamilton's journey through southern India

In 1799, after the defeat of Tipu Sultan and the fall of Mysore, he was asked to survey South India, resulting in A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar (1807). He also wrote An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal (1819).

He conducted two surveys, the first of Mysore in 1800 and the second of Bengal in 1807–14. From 1803 to 1804, he was surgeon to the governor general of India Lord Wellesley in Calcutta, where he also organized a zoo that was to become the Calcutta Alipore Zoo. In 1804, he was in charge of the Institution for Promoting the Natural History of India founded by Wellesley at Barrackpore.

From 1807 to 1814, under the instructions of the government of Bengal, he made a comprehensive survey of the areas within the jurisdiction of the British East India Company. He was asked to report on topography, history, antiquities, the condition of the inhabitants, religion, natural productions (particularly fisheries, forests, mines, and quarries), agriculture (covering vegetables, implements, manure, floods, domestic animals, fences, farms, and landed property, fine and common arts, and commerce (exports and imports, weights and measures, and conveyance of goods). His conclusions are reported in a series of treatises that are retained in major United Kingdom libraries; many have been reissued in modern editions. They include an important work on Indian fish species, entitled An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches (1822), which describes over 100 species not formerly recognised scientifically.

He also collected and described many new plants in the region, and collected a series of watercolours of Indian and Nepalese plants and animals, probably painted by Indian artists, which are now in the library of the Linnean Society of London [1]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May, 1806,[5] and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in January 1817.

Later life edit

He succeeded William Roxburgh to become the superintendent of the Calcutta botanical garden in 1814, but had to return to Britain in 1815 due to his ill health. In an interesting incident, the notes that he took of Hope's botany lectures in 1780 were lent to his shipmate Alexander Boswell during a voyage in 1785. Boswell lost the notes in Satyamangalam in Mysore and the notes went into the hands of Tipu Sultan, who had them rebound. In 1800, they were found in Tippu's library by a major who returned them to Buchanan.[6]

Buchanan left India in 1815, and in the same year inherited his mother's estate and in consequence took her surname of Hamilton, referring to himself as "Francis Hamilton, formerly Buchanan" or simply "Francis Hamilton". However, he is variously referred to by others as "Buchanan-Hamilton", "Francis Hamilton Buchanan", or "Francis Buchanan Hamilton".[citation needed]

From 1814 until 1829 he was the official Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh succeeding William Roxburgh.

Taxon named in his honor edit

Reptiles edit

An illustration of Geoclemys hamiltonii (black pond turtle) by Thomas Hardwicke
  • Francis Buchanan-Hamilton is commemorated in the scientific name of a species of South Asian turtle, Geoclemys hamiltoni.[7]

Fish edit

Abbreviation edit

Taxon described by him edit

See also edit

  • Claudius Buchanan Rev. Claudius Buchanan was also frequently referred as Dr. Buchanan in missionary journals.

References edit

  1. ^ V.H. Jackson, preface in "Journal of Francis Buchanan", Delhi, 1989.
  2. ^ Biographical index of former fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b Watson, Mark F.; Noltie, Henry J. (2016). "Career, collections, reports and publications of Dr Francis Buchanan (later Hamilton), 1762–1829: Natural history studies in Nepal, Burma (Myanmar), Bangladesh and India. Part 1". Annals of Science. 73 (4): 392–424. doi:10.1080/00033790.2016.1195446. PMID 27399603. S2CID 22631605.
  4. ^ Hora, S.L. (1926). "On the Manuscript Drawings of Fish in the Library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 22: 93–96.
  5. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Ehrlich, Joshua (3 May 2020). "Plunder and Prestige: Tipu Sultan's Library and the Making of British India". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 43 (3): 478–492. doi:10.1080/00856401.2020.1739863. ISSN 0085-6401. S2CID 219447375.
  7. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Hamilton", p. 114).
  8. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara (22 September 2018). "Order CLUPEIFORMES: Family DENTICIPITIDAE, PRISTIGASTERIDAE, ENGRAULIDAE and CHIROCENTRIDAE". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  9. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara (22 September 2018). "Order GOBIIFORMES: Family OXUDERCIDAE (p-z)". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  10. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara (22 September 2018). "Order CYPRINIFORMES: Family LEUCISCIDAE: Subfamilies LAVINIINAE, PLAGOPTERINAE and POGONICHTHYINAEs". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  11. ^ Conway, K.W., Dittmer, D.E., Jezisek, L.E. & Ng, H.H. (2013): On Psilorhynchus sucatio and P. nudithoracicus, with the description of a new species of Psilorhynchus from northeastern India (Ostariophysi: Psilorhynchidae). Zootaxa, 3686 (2): 201–243.
  12. ^ Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara (22 September 2018). "Order SILURIFORMES: Families RITIDAE, AILIIDAE, HORABAGRIDAE and BAGRIDAE". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  13. ^ a b Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara (22 September 2018). "Order MUGILIFORMES". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  14. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Buch.-Ham.

Further reading edit

External links edit