James Forsyth

Birth: 1838


James Forsyth (1838-1871), Indian traveller, was born in 1838. After receiving a university education in England, and taking his degree of M.A., he entered the civil service, and went out to India as assistant conservator and acting conservator of forests. In a short time he was appointed settlement officer and deputy-commissioner of Nimar, and served with distinction under Sir Richard Temple, chief commissioner of the Central Provinces. Forsyth acquired wide reputation as a hunter.

He was a true sportsman, and spoke severely of 'poaching proclivities' and 'unsportsmanlike conduct.' In 1862 he published a comprehensive treatise on the 'Sporting Rifle and its Projectiles.' Forsyth, who was attached to the Bengal staff corps, made a complete tour of the Central Provinces of India in 1862-4, penetrating to Armar-Kantak, near the sources of the Nerbudda, the Mahanuddy, and the Sone.

He thence proceeded across the rich plain of Chutteesgurh to the sal forests in the far east. In 1870 he prepared an account of his explorations, with which he proceeded to England towards the close of that year. Arrangements were made for the publication of the work, but the author died while the sheets were passing through the press.

The work appeared posthumously (November 1871), under the title of 'The Highlands of Central India; Notes on their Forests and Wild Tribes, Natural History, and Sports.' This narrative contained much valuable information respecting the wild hill tribes, some graphic descriptions of scenery, an interesting account of the forests and the system of conservancy, and full details of the sporting capabilities of the Central Provinces. It was a complete guide and exposition of the central highlands of India. Forsyth died in London 1 May 1871.

[Athenaeum, 25 Nov. 1871; Forsyth's Works.]


George Barnett Smith, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 20. pg. 31-32.

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