ABBOTT, James. Calcutta 12.3.1807 — Ellerslie, Ryde, Isle of Wight 6.10.1896. British Colonial Officer, Poet and Indologist. In India 1823-67. Son of merchant Henry Alexius A. and Margaret Welsh, brother of major-general Augustus A. (1804-67, 1819-59 in India), major-general Sir Frederick A. (1805–92, 1823-47 in India) etc. Educated at Blackheath (Kent) and at E.I.C. Military College in Addiscombe, 1823 to India. In 1825-26 participated in the siege of Bharatpur in Bengal Royal Artillery, then 1835-36 in the Revenue Survey in Gorakhpur. In 1838 he participated in the Afghanistan war and 1839 went on a mission to Herat and further in 1839 to Merw and the Chan of Khiva as envoy, being the first British beyond the Oxus and in Khiva. In 1840 went as the envoy of Chan via Caspian–Orenburg–Moscow to the Czar. Returned via England to India in 1841. Captain 1841. Was a short period in civil offices in Rajasthan. 1845-53 Commissioner of Hazara, fought in the Sikh war 1848-49 with headquarters in future Abbottabad. Colonel 1861, 1867 major-general and left India, 1877 general, retired 1879.

“A paragon of an empire builder”, therefore much lauded in obituaries etc. As a scholar he was one of the first to study the Greek period of North-west India on spot and to develop a historical topography. Married 1844 with Margaret Anne Harriet (d. 1845, one daughter) and 1868 with Anna Matilde de Montmorency (1839–1870, one son). C.B. 1873, K.C.B. 1894.

Publications: 5 collections of poetry, 1841–1880.

Narrative of a Journey from Meerut in North India to Khiva, Moscow, and St. Petersburg during the late Russian invasion of Khiva, with some account of the court of Khiva and Kingdom of Kharesm. 1–2. 1843, 2nd ed. 1867, 3rd 1884.

– “Some account of the Battlefield of Alexander the Great and Porus”, JASB 17:2, 1848, 619-633 (& 18:1, 176f.); “On the Sites of Nikaia and Bouképhalia”, JASB 21, 1852, 214-263; “Gradus ad Aornon”, JASB 22, 1853, 309-365; “Aornos”, JASB 32, 1863, 409-420.

– “On a Sculpture from the Site of the Indo-Greek City Bucephalia”, JASB 16:2, 1847, 664-666; “Remains of Greek Sculpture in Potowar”, JASB 18:1, 1849, 131-137; “Note on the Ruins at Maunkyala”, JASB 22, 1853, 570-574; “Indo-Grecian sculptures from the North-western Frontier”, JASB 23, 1854, 394f.

– “On the Ballads and Legends of the Punjab”, JASB 23, 1854, 59-91, 123-163.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; R. N. Cust, JRAS 1897, 126–130 with bibliography; R.H.W. in D.N.B. Suppl. 1, 1901; Wikipedia (with picture).


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