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Title Letters, Papers and Reports from Francis Blackwell Forbes in China
Reference Ms. N-49, box 22
Library Massachusetts Historical Society
Collection Forbes Family Papers
Collection Series Francis Blackwell Forbes Papers, 1839-1931
Date 1858-1902
Description Includes letters to Forbes's family and material related to the Burlingame Mission, silk consumption, the Shanghai Country Club, and the liquidation of the Shanghai Silk Filature Company.
Document Type Correspondence, Manuscript, Clipping, Ephemera, Business Records
Theme(s) Trade and Commerce; Social Life; Regulation and Legislation; Politics, War and Diplomacy
Keywords regulations, merchant, weather, trade, family, news, friends, business, factory, community, goods, commodity, cargo, ship, committee, finance, accounts, captain, mission, silk, market
Countries USA; China; France
Places Paris
Ports Shanghai, China; Guangzhou, China; Hong Kong, China; Macau, China
Company Russell and Company; Shanghai Silk Filature Company
People Anson Burlingame
Additional Information

Francis 'Frank' Blackwell Forbes (1839-1908) was the son of clergyman John Murray Forbes (1807-1885). He had a brother named John Murray Forbes, Jr (1844-1921) and a sister named Adelaide Forbes Carmichael. In 1857 Forbes went to China, where he became a partner in Russell and Company. He was also active in the Shanghai Steam Navigation Company, which operated a fleet of flat-bottomed steamers up and down the Yangtze River. In 1867, he married Isabel Clarke, and they had four daughters (one of whom died young) and three sons: Francis Murray Forbes (1874-1961), who lived with cousin James Murray Forbes while he was in school and starting off in business; Charles Stewart Forbes (1877-1949); and James Grant Forbes (1878-1955).

While in the Far East, Francis Blackwell Forbes developed an interest in Chinese botany and became a leading specialist in the subject. He also took part in promoting what became the Shanghai Country Club, served as consul in Shanghai for Norway and Sweden, and wrote some papers on the Burlingame Mission. In the early 1880s, Forbes moved from China to Europe, spending most of the next 20 years in England and France. He became managing director of the Serrell Automatic Silk Reeling Company and was hit hard by the company's failure in 1894, as well as the earlier failure of Russell and Company in 1891. During the later years of his life, he became interested in bimetallism and corresponded widely with silverites in Europe and the United States.

Please note that some of the metadata for this document has been drawn from the Massachusetts Historical Society catalogue.

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