John Malcolm Forbes

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Not to be confused with Malcolm Forbes.

John Malcolm Forbes (1847–February 19, 1904[1]) was a businessman and sportsman. He was born in Milton, Massachusetts in 1847 into the wealthy Forbes family of Boston. He was a prominent yachtsman and breeder of Standardbred horses.


Forbes has been described as one of the most important harness racing breeders of all time.[2] In 1890 he purchased Jack, 2:12, for a speedway horse. As his interest grew he established Forbes Farm by buying and consolidating the Hunt, Davenport and Farrington farms. The Farrington farmhouse once stood on the site of the current Prowse residence.

He purchased Nancy Hanks for $41,000 and Arion for $125,000. With Arion, Bingen, Nancy Hanks, Peter The Great, and others, Forbes Farm became the outstanding stud farm in the East. Forbes main objective is to improve the quality of the light driving horse, which, before the advent of the automobile, was in great demand throughout the country. Though Forbes never raced a stable, he was an expert on breeding fast horses, until his death in 1904.

Forbes made national headlines by paying Senator Leland Stanford of California the enormous sum, at the time, of $125,000 for the stallion Arion.[3] At the time this was highest price ever paid for a horse anywhere in the world. Adding Bingen and Peter the Great, Forbes owned the three fastest trotting stallions. He added the legendary undefeated mare Nancy Hanks, model for the horse and sulky weathervanes one sees today. These horses were inducted into the Standardbred Hall of Fame.


By 1890, Forbes was a well-known businessman and also an avid sportsman.

America's Cup[edit]

Forbes owned and skippered the yacht Puritan which successfully defended the America's Cup in 1885.

In 1885, Forbes led the first of three successful America's Cup defense efforts for the New York Yacht Club. Edward Burgess was the designer and the syndicate initially funded and campaigned Puritan to a successful defence in 1885 and became a template for America's Cup campaign management which was used throughout the 20th century.


Forbes is the ancestor of American television producer Jonathan Meath.[4]


  • The complete book of harness racing by Philip A Pines
  • Canton Historical Society.
  1. ^ "Death of J. Malcolm Forbes", The New York Times, February 20, 1904.
  2. ^ Robert Temple, The History of Harness Racing in New England (Xlibris, 2010), ISBN 978-1450054720, p. 76. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  3. ^ Phillip Thurtle, The Emergence of Genetic Rationality: Space, Time, and Information in American Biological Science, 1870-1920 (University of Washington Press, 2007), ISBN 978-0295987507, pp. 63-64. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  4. ^ "Mary Stewart Hewitt". Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. Jan 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-14. "She is survived by her husband, Peter M. Hewitt; two daughters, Margaret F. Meath of Lorton, Va., and Sarah M. Tibbetts of Scituate, Mass.; two sons, James S. Huntington-Meath of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Jonathan G. Meath of Cambridge, Mass." 

External links[edit]