Papers of Francis Hamilton Buchanan (1762-1829)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-312
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, and Latin.
  • Physical Description
      9 volumes, 1 letter.
  • Location
      Gen. 129 (Ja.9); Dc.6.97; Dc.1.71-74; Dc.1.11-14

Scope and Content

The papers consist of; a letter to Professor Robert Jameson (1774-1854) asking him to inspect a box of Indian drugs, at Gen. 129 (Ja.9); the observations and notes Enumeratio plantarum quas in adeundo civitatem Barmanorum regiam et dehinc redeundo anno 1795 observavit F.B. at Dc.1.11; commentary on the Herbarium Amboinense of G. E. Rumphius, at Dc.1.12-13, and notes from the same at Dc.6.97; botanical notes and papers, 1798-1801, at Dc.1.14; and, a commentary on the Hortus Malabaricus of H. A. van Rheede van Draakestein, at Dc.1.71-72.

Administrative / Biographical History

The surgeon and botanist Francis Hamilton Buchanan was born in Branziet, near Callander, in Perthshire, on 15 February 1762. He studied for the medical profession and was awarded his degree in Edinburgh 1783. He first took a post as a surgeon on board a man-of-war but in 1794 he entered the service of the East India Company as a surgeon and medical officer in Bengal. While in India performing his duties he devoted himself to agricultural, botanical, cultural, historical, and other research in Ava, Pegu, the Andaman Islands, the mouth of the Brahmaputra, Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. In addition to duties in southern India, he visited Nepal in 1802. On his return from the mountain kingdom, Buchanan was appointed surgeon to the Governor-General of India, Lord Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington), and he accompanied Wellesley to England in 1806. Shortly after this he was given the task of carrying out a statistical survey for the East India Company in Bengal which he worked on until 1813. In 1814, Buchanan was appointed Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta and in 1815 he returned to Britain, spending his latter years mainly in Scotland on his Bardowie estate. Buchanan published A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar (1807), as well as a description of the fish in the Brahmaputra (1822), and a A history of Nepal. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and was a member of the Royal Asiatic Society. Francis Hamilton Buchanan died on 15 June 1829.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.3. Brown-Chaloner. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Buchanan related material (check the Indexes for more details): reference to his Hortus Malabaricus in a letter from R. Kippist to H. Cleghorn, 1875, at Gen. 1730-1732; and, in the same location a letter to Buchanan from Sir D. Brewster, 1827. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: catalogues of plants, 1795-1798, Natural History Museum; papers (20 vols), 1795-1814, British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, Ref. MSS Eur C 12-14, D 70-98, E 68-73, G 10-25 then Kurukh D 1 then NHD 2-3; descriptions of fish, 1798, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MSS 9882, 19296; correspondence and papers, 1797-1829, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD161 NRA 8142 Buchanan; papers, Linnean Society of London, Ref. Buchanan MSS NRA 9516 Linnean Society, and letters (32), 1783-1825, to Sir James E Smith; correspondence with Constable and Co., 1817-1822, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 790-91; and, letters to William Roxburgh, 1795-1812, Natural History Museum.