James Abbott (Indian Army officer)
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|Sir James Abbott|
James Abbott in Afghan dress. (B. Baldwin, 1841)
12 March 1807|
|Died||6 October 1896
Isle of Wight, England
|Buried at||Guildford Cemetery, Guildford, Surrey, England|
|Service/branch||British Indian Army|
|Battles/wars||First Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
|Relations||Major General Augustus Abbott
Major General Sir Frederick Abbott
Major General Saunders Alexius Abbott
Keith Edward Abbott
|Other work||Colonial administrator|
James Abbott was the 3rd son of Henry Alexius Abbott, a retired Calcutta merchant of Blackheath, then in Kent, and his wife Margaret Welsh, the daughter of William Welsh of Edinburgh. He had the following siblings:
- Margaret (1801–1877)
- Major-General Augustus Abbott, C.B. (1804–1867)
- Major-General Sir Frederick Abbott, C.B. (1805–1892)
- Emma Abbott (1809–1875)
- Major-General Saunders Alexius Abbott (1811–1894)
- Keith Edward Abbott, Consul General (1814–1873)
- Edmund Abbott (1816–1816)
Journey to Khiva: In 1839 the British learned that Russia was planning an invasion of the Khanate of Khiva. In December 1839 acting Captain Abbott was sent from Herat to Khiva in an attempt to negotiate the release of Russian slaves and thereby deny the Russians a pretext for invasion. If war had already broken out, Abbott was instructed to attempt to negotiate a settlement. Abbott reached Khiva in late January, a week or so before the Russians were forced to turn back due to an unusually cold winter. The Khivans knew little of Brittan and he was hampered by a lack of understanding of Khivan language and culture. The attempt to release Russian slaves failed. He did agree with the Khivan ruler, Allah Quli Khan, to establish a British agent in Khiva and to travel to Russia to negotiate between the two powers. He had no authorization to serve as the Khan's agent, but had no way to communicate with his superiors in India. In March 1840 Abbott set off from Khiva to Fort Alexandrovsk on the Caspian Sea. His caravan was attacked by Kazakhs and he was wounded in the hand and taken hostage, but he and his party were released because they feared retribution. He reached St Petersburg but the attempt at mediation failed. His bravery was recognized through promotion to full Captain. In May 1840 Lieutenant Richmond Shakespear of the Bengal Artillery went from Herat via Merv to Khiva. He was successful and escorted 416 Russian captives to the Caspian. Shakespear was knighted for this undertaking.
Later: He was one of Sir Henry Lawrence's "Young Men", "advisers" to the Sikhs, after the First Sikh War (1846), who did sterling work in pacifying the Frontier and Northern Punjab; and he was later to remain the first Deputy Commissioner of Hazara (1849–1853).
As part of the terms of the Treaty of Lahore signed after the defeat of the Sikhs in the First Sikh War, Hazara and Kashmir were to be transferred to Raja Gulab Singh, Dogra; Hazara, however, proved an intractable charge and was returned to the Lahore government by Gulab Singh in January 1847, in exchange for Jammu. Thereafter, the Lahore government appointed Sardar Chatar Singh as 'Nazim' (Administrator) for Hazara and deputed Abbott along with him as his assistant to try to restore law and order and make an 'honest assessment'of the revenues of the area and he did a very good job of it. Subsequently, after the Second Sikh War of 1848-49, when the Punjab was formally annexed by the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), this area also came under its writ and Abbott was duly appointed as its first Deputy Commissioner. Abbott's original seat of government in the Hazara was at Haripur but he eventually decided to shift this up into the hills for climatic and strategic reasons. Thus, a site was selected and acquired in late 1852, and Abbott thereafter shifted his headquarters there in January 1853, founding a small town and military cantonment which was to grow over time. Unfortunately, Abbott himself could not long witness the growth of his town, which was later named after him, as he was posted away from this charge in April 1853.
Honours and legacy
A portrait of James Abbott dressed as an Afghan noble and relating to his Central Asian journey, was painted in watercolour in 1841 by B. Baldwin (see illustration), now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London, though it is not currently on display.
- Biog. Of Henry Alexius Abbot per the obituaries of his prominent sons
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 2
- Great British Adventurers by Nicholas Storey. Pen and Sword Books Ltd, Yorkshire, UK, 2012. ISBN 9781844681303 p29-32
- Notes on Western Turkistan: Some Notes on the Situation in Western Turkistan By George Aberigh-Mackay. Thack, Spink & Co, Calcutta, 1875. p42
- Isobel Shaw, Pakistan Handbook, Hong Kong, Local Colour Limited, (1998) p.519
- The Hazara District Gazetteer, 1883-84, Pub. by the Government of the Punjab, Lahore, 1884, pp.41-47
- Hazara India : Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition Article
- Omer Tarin and SD Najmuddin, "Five Early Military Graves at the Old Christian Cemetery, Abbottabad, c 1853-1888", in the 'Kipling Journal', December 2010, Vol 84 No 339, p.37 ISSN 0023-1738
- "Sir James Abbott". findagrave.com. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- About Abbottabad - Abbottabad District website
|Wikisource has the text of the Dictionary of National Biography 1901 supplement's article about Abbott, James.|