General Sir James Abbott dressed as an Indian noble by B. Baldwin 1841

Sir James Abbott (1807-1896) by B. Baldwin, 1841. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Sir James Abbott
March 12, 1807(1807-Template:MONTHNUMBER-12) – October 6, 1896(1896-Template:MONTHNUMBER-06) (aged 89)
Place of birth Kent, England
Place of death Isle of Wight]], England
Resting place Guildford Cemetery, Guildford, Surrey, England
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank General
Unit Bengal Artillery
Battles/wars First Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Relations Major General Augustus Abbott
Major General Sir Frederick Abbott]]
Major General Saunders Alexius Abbott
Keith Edward Abbott
Other work Colonial administrator

General Sir James Abbott, KCB (12 March 1807 - 6 October 1896), was a British army officer and administrator in colonial India.

Abbott is also the author of the poem "Abbottabad," which has been called 1 of the worst poems ever written.[1]



Abbott was the 3rd son of Henry Alexius Abbott, a retired Calcutta merchant of Blackheath, then in Kent,[2] 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)


Abbott joined the Bengal Artillery at the age of 16.[3] He made a name for himself in the northwest frontier region of India in the middle part of the 19th century. In 1839, he undertook a mission to the Khanate of Khiva as part of the Great Game, the contest for influence in Central Asia between the United Kingdom and the Russian Empire. His objective was to obtain the release of Russian slaves in the Khanate to deny the Russians a pretext for invading it. He failed, but shortly afterwards Richmond Shakespear succeeded.

He was one of Sir Henry Lawrence's Young Men, 'advisers' to the Sikhs, after the First Sikh War (1846).[4], who did sterling work in pacifying the Frontier and Northern Punjab and he was later to remain the 1st 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.[5] 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 1st Deputy Commissioner.[6] 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.[7] 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,as he was posted away from this charge in April 1853.

Abbott died in the Isle of Wight in 1896,[8] preceded by his wife Anna Matilda Abbott (1839–1870).


The poetry of Major Abbott

The poetry of Major Abbott

Abbott was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath in 1894.[3]

The Pakistani city of Abbottabad,[4] as well as the district, is named after him.[9]

A plaque commemorating Abbott's poem "Abbottabad" is displayed at Lady Garden Park within the city of Abbottabad.[10]

A portrait of Abbott dressed as an Indian noble, painted in watercolour in 1841 by B. Baldwin (see illustration), is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London, though it is not on display.

Poem by James AbbottEdit

  1. Abbottabad

See alsoEdit


  1. Stephen Moss. "Abbottabad – pretty Himalayan town, pity about the poem | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  2. Biog. Of Henry Alexius Abbot per the obituaries of his prominent sons
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 2
  4. 4.0 4.1 Isobel Shaw, Pakistan Handbook, Hong Kong, Local Colour Limited, (1998) P.519
  5. The Hazara District Gazetteer, 1883-84, Pub. by the Government of the Punjab, Lahore, 1884, pp.41-47
  6. Hazara India : Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition Article
  7. 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
  9. About Abbottabad - Abbottabad District website
  10. WAQAR ZEB, on April 24, 2009, said: (2009-04-24). "Photo of Major Abbott views about Abbottabad". Panoramio. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 

External linksEdit

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