Francis Blackwell Forbes

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Francis Blackwell Forbes (New York, August 11, 1839 - Boston, Massachusetts, May 2, 1908) was a China merchant, opium trader and botanist, son of Rev. John Murray Forbes, Rector of St. Luke's, New York (New York, May 5, 1807 – Elizabeth, New Jersey, October 11, 1885) and his wife (m. December 26, 1838) Anne Howell ( – July 21, 1849).


He and other members of the Forbes family actively engaged in the opium trade and in the Old China Trade during the First and Second Opium Wars, amassing a large fortune. Due to his family's deep involvement with the opium trade and opium, Forbes developed a lifelong interest in the poppy and other plants, and in Chinese botany in general.

He married in New York City, New York on May 8, 1867 Isabel Clark, born in New York, c. 1846, daughter of William Mather Clark, a banker (Litchfield, Connecticut, May 26, 1805 – Berkley House, 5th Avenue, New York City, New York, November 21, 1878) and wife Isabella Staples (New York, c. 1805 – living 1870). She died of coronary thrombosis, with underlying arteriosclerosis in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 1, 1931 with the age estimated of 89 years and 2 months. They were the parents of William Hathaway Forbes and James Grant Forbes.

He was the grandson of James Grant Forbes I and cousin of John Murray Forbes. He is a maternal great-grandfather of 2004 US Presidential candidate John Kerry.

Botanical works and honors[edit]

His most extensive work is An Enumeration of All the Plants Known from China Proper, Formosa, Hainan, Corea, the Luchu Archipelago, and the Island of Hong Kong, which he published together with the British botanist William Hemsley in 1887 (with illustrations by Matilda Smith). This checklist includes some species that were first described by Forbes and Hemsley.[1]

Henry Fletcher Hance named the species Euonymus forbesii after Forbes.[2]


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