John Herbert Harington (1764 -1828)

jurist, orientalist, and colonial administrator.

HARINGTON began his career with the East India Company in 1780, taking up a junior position in revenue administration for Bengal and spending the rest of his working life in India in the Bengal Civil Service. Rising rapidly through the ranks, Harington concerned himself with the legal affairs of the EI Company government, based in Fort William. As his interest in law grew, so, too, did his interest in Indian civilisation, and he was an active member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. In 1801, Harington was appointed Puisne Judge of the Sadr Diwani and Nizamat Adalat; by 1811, he was Chief Judge. His key work, Analysis of the Laws and Regulations of the Fort William Government in Bengal (1805-17), was a standard text for colonial administrators and lawyers in the nineteenth century. Harington became Professor of Law at Fort William College and a member (later President) of its Council, and was member of the Supreme Council and President of the Board of Trade 1822-23, and again 1825-27. In a different vein, Harington organized the first publication from manuscript of the Persian poet, Sa’di. He died on 9 April 1828 shortly after returning to London.



Francis Buchanan [later Hamilton] (1762-1829)

botanist, surgeon, and East India Company man.

BORN in Perthshire into the minor aristocracy, Buchanan took an MA from Glasgow in 1779 and an MD from Edinburgh University in 1783. Hoping to pursue a career as a botanist, Buchanan joined the East India Company, spending a decade as a ship’s surgeon before securing the post of Assistant Surgeon for Bengal in 1794, where he participated in Britain’s first political mission to Ava and collected a substantial Burmese herbarium along the way.

After the fall of Mysore and victory over Tipu Sultan, Wellesley appointed Buchanan to survey the newly conquered territory. Buchanan collected a multitude of new plant specimens and continued his botanising as a member of the British Embassy to Kathmandu in 1802. By 1804, Buchanan had been appointed Wellesley’s personal surgeon and made director of the Natural History Project of India, an enterprise that would attempt to classify and illustrate all the animals and birds of Southern Asia. Buchanan returned to London in 1805 and in 1806 was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1807, Buchanan was promoted to Surgeon and returned to India, embarking on a topographical survey of Bengal that would occupy most of his time in India. In 1814, he was appointed superintendent of the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta, but only a year later ill health forced a return to Scotland, where he inherited his mother’s estates and changed his name to Hamilton. By the time of his death in 1829 he was chief of Clan Buchanan.

Elias Greig and William Christie, University of Sydney