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Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Photographs - I Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Photographs - I FORBES, JAMES (1749 - 1819)
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Oriental Memoirs. Selected from a series of familiar letters written during seventeen years Residence in India. London, 1813 4 vols. Text, with 29 hand colored plates and 79 Steel Engravings
JAMES FORBES (1749–1819)
Although his family claimed descent from Scottish nobility, the Earls of Granard, Forbes was the son of a London Merchant, Timothy Forbes. After a formal education, he was appointed to the lowly rank of Writer in the East India Company at the customary age of sixteen. Sailing in March 1765 on board the Royal Charlotte, his diverse interests became apparent during the voyage. By the time he reached India, he had already sent home several letters giving “an account of the manners and customs of different nations and the various productions of a nature in foreign climates”.
Forbes spent the first six years in Bombay, after which he rose rapidly through the company’s ranks. Subsequently all his major postings were in other places in Western India. In 1772 he was appointed Member of Council at Anjengo. In 1775, he was assigned as secretary to Colonel Thomas Keating, whose army in Gujarat was assisting the Peshwa, Raghunath Rao. Soon afterwards, affilicted by illness, Forbes returned to England but was back in Bombay by mid–1777.
Forbes was adventurous and independent. He was an amateur artist, who sketched the Indian environment with no other training, as he himself stated, except encouragement from his friends. After five years in Bombay, he sailed to Surat. Forbes sailed southwards to Anjengo to take up an appointment as member of council. Forbes also visited the Dutch settlement of Cochin. Where he explored the Malabar Coast and studied the traditions of the people.