Major-General Thomas Hardwicke (1755-1835)

soldier, natural historian, and East India Company man.

HARDWICKE joined the East India Company in 1777 as a soldier, working his way up to the rank of major-general in 1819. During his career as a soldier, he travelled widely throughout the Indian subcontinent, exploiting his itinerant lifestyle to pursue a passion for natural history and commissioning countless unknown local artists to record the many zoological specimens he collected along the way, whether live or dead. Together these amounted to the most extensive record of Indian fauna ever assembled by a single individual, with 4,500 pieces eventually published as Illustrations of Indian Zoology (1830-35). Hardwicke was known by, and corresponded with, many other zoologists and naturalists working on the subcontinent, as well as with Sir Joseph Banks back in England. In 1813, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Hardwicke retired from the army and returned to England in 1826, where he financed the publication of his collection of illustrations, dying in 1835 before the text for Illustrations of Indian Zoology was complete. His collection was bequeathed to the British Museum, from where parts of it were removed to the Natural History Museum.

Elias Greig and William Christie, University of Sydney

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