BUCHANAN-HAMILTON, Francis (until 1815 Francis Buchanan). Branziet, Callander, Pertshire 15.2.1762 — 15.6.1829. British (Scottish) Physician in India, Traveller, Naturalist, a Pioneer of Burmese Studies and of Indian Archaeology. Son of Thomas B., a doctor, and Elizabeth Hamilton, took himself a M.D. at Edinburgh in 1783. After serving on a war ship joined the E.I.C.’s service in 1794. “Employed on a mission to the court of Ava, and on various botanical, zoological and statistical inquiries in Chittagong and Tippera, and, in 1800-01, through Mysore, Canara and Malabar, on which he wrote a full report.” His information about Burmese Buddhism hailed from Father —> Sangermano, whom he had met during his mission to Ava. In 1802 he visited Nepal, then surgeon to Lord Wellesley, and accompanied him to England in 1805. Returned soon to India, made survey and research in Bengal (including Bihar and Assam). In December 1811 he found the remains of Buddh Gaya. In 1814-15 Superintendent of the Botanic Garden in Calcutta (succeeding Roxburgh), then retired because of ill-health and returned to Scotland. Succeeding on his mother’s property in 1815 he took the surname Hamilton, but is commonly referred to as Buchanan-Hamilton. Again succeeded Roxburgh as the Keeper of Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh in 1815-29. Married with Anne Brock, one son.
Several reports and studies remained in manuscript form, and were published only much later. As naturalists he found many new species, especially of plants and fishes, and often depicted them in watercolours. In India he knew no local languages.
Publications: “On the Religion and Literature of the Burmas”, As. Res. 6, Repr. 1801, 163-308; “Kammua-za tr. from the Latin version made from Pāli by Vincentius Sangermano”, Ibid. 279-289
– “On the Srawacs or Jains”, TrRAS 1, 1827, 531-540; “Description of the Ruins of Buddha Gáya”, TrRAS 2:1, 1829, 40-51, and other articles.
– An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal and of the territories annexed to this Dominion by the House of Gurkha. 316 p. Edinburgh 1819.
– A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. 1-3. L. 1807, new ed. 1-2. Madras 1870; Journal of Francis Buchanan (afterwards Hamilton) Kept during the Survey of the District of Patna and Gaya in 1811-1812. Ed. by V. H. Jackson. Patna 1926 (orig. JBORS 8:3-4, 1922, 1-366; “The Journal of Dr. Francis Buchanan (afterwards Buchanan Hamilton) from the first November 1812 to the 26th February 1813, when carrying out his Survey of the District Shahabad. Ed. by C. E. A. W. Oldham ”, JBORS 11:3-4, 1925, 1-392; An Account of the District Purnea in 1809-10. Ed. by V. H. Jackson. 620+47 p. Patna 1928; Journal of Francis Buchanan kept during the Survey of the District of Bhagalpur in 1810-11. Ed. by C. E. A. W. Oldham. 259+40 p. Patna 1930 (= JBORS 15:3-4, 1929, 311-571); An Account of the District of Shahabad in 1809-10. Ed. by R. K. Jalan. 8+444 p. Patna 1934.
– Account of the Fishes found in the River Ganges and its Branches. 405 p. 39 pl. Edinburgh 1822.
Sources: A.J.A[rbuthnot], D.N.B. 7, 1886, 186; Buckland, Dictionary; *M. Vicziany, “ Imperialism, Botany and Statistics in Early Nineteenth-Century India: The Surveys of Francis Buchanan (1762-1829)”, Modern Asian Studies 20, 1986, 625-660; Wikipedia.
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