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Glenbuchat Heritage

11 Forbes USA Family History
The Glenbuchat Image Library
11 Forbes USA Family History

Click for Alexander Walker Introduction

The first member of the Forbes family to live in the United States was John Forbes (1740–1783). John Forbes Rev. was born in Deskrie, Strathdon Scotland. He went from Scotland to America in 1764 as Judge in the British Admiralty at St. Augustine, Florida, and then became minister of the church. He returned to Scotland 1783 where he died. He married Dorothy Murray on February 2, 1769 in Milton, Massachusetts, where one of his three sons was born.

Captain Robert Bennet Forbes (1804 – November 23, 1889), the Rev John’s grandson, and son of Ralph Bennet Forbes, was a sea captain, China merchant, ship owner, and writer. He was active in ship construction, maritime safety, the opium trade, and charitable activities. "As a member of the Forbes family of Boston, much of his wealth was derived from the opium and China Trade and he played a prominent role in the outbreak of the Opium War. Despite the ethical problems of dealing in opium, he was known to engage in humanitarian activities, such as commandeering the USS Jamestown to send food to Irish famine sufferers in 1847."

Robert Bennet Forbes, attended Milton Academy for 3 years, but due to his father's financial difficulties, had to leave school and go to work. After a short stint as clerk for his Perkins uncles, he sailed to China at the age of 13 and eventually became a sea captain and China trader associated with Russell & Co. He received his first command at the age of 20, and he was prosperous enough at 28 to return to Boston and set up shop as a merchant. In 1834, he married Rose Greene Smith (1802-1885), and the couple moved to Milton, Mass., where Forbes had built a house the previous year. Unfortunately, Forbes was hit hard by the Panic of 1837 and was forced to return to China to rebuild his fortune. He lived in the Far East from 1837 to 1840 and again from 1849 to 1851; during that time, he became the head of Russell & Co., played a prominent role in the outbreak of the Opium War, and served as United States vice-consul.

The Forbes family built a mansion at Milton called Forbes House (see map and picture above)

Alexander Walker’s move to Bath on Hudson

Forbes Manor
The fact that Alexander’s 7th child was born in New York initially posed a bit of a mystery.
The matter became clear when exploring a connection between Alexander Ramsay, editor of the Banffshire Journal and Alexander Walker, revealed a publication of Alexander’s Collection available from ABAA bookshop 20 West 44th Street, 507 New York, NY 10036

“Reviews of Walker's "Scottish Dance Music."
Lately Published, Price 10s., 6d. first edition 1871 Banff, (Scotland). Printed at the Banffshire Journal Office, 1871. Original printed wrappers; some staining, else very good. First edition. “Excerpts from 1866 reviews published in Scottish newspapers. A broadside "Paragraphs from Scotch Newspapers, Referring to Alexander Walker's leaving Castle Newe for America in 1870..." (11 x 8 1/2 inches; Banff, 1871) is tipped to the inside rear wrapper. Composer of over 200 airs and Castle Newe's noted gardener, Walker continued his work at Bath-on-Hudson, New York.”

This gave the first clue that in 1871, a year after arriving in the USA, Alexander was in Bath on Hudson, New York. It is unclear if the phrase “continued his work” means his gardening or his composing. Bath-on-Hudson was a small community just across the Hudson River from Albany. It was eventually joined into the city of Rensselaer, NY Se above for picture and map of Forbes Manor)

(From: http://bathonhudson.blogspot.co.uk/)
“The area was originally colonised by the Dutch West India Company and eventually a descendant of the original Dutch colonisers, William Paterson Van Rensselaer built Beverwyck Manor on the eastern bluffs of the Hudson River. The beautiful Greek revival mansion was designed by architect Frederick Diaper, and completed in 1842.

In 1850, the mansion, with 900 acres, was purchased as a country house by Paul S. Forbes,(and changed the name to Forbes Manor)
(Paul Siemens Forbes – Both Robert Forbes of Milton and Paul Forbes are grandsons of Rev John Forbes - see Forbes family connection in family tree at end of article) a wealthy New York City merchant in the China trade with Russell & Co. Mr. Paul Forbes was a gentleman of refined tastes and great wealth, engaged in the China trade, who with his family enjoyed the beauties and luxuries of this quiet, secluded natural park a part of each year until the time of his death in 1886

Paul S Forbes was a relative of the Forbes of Milton Massachusetts and it seems that Alexander Walker was staying at the estate in 1871 in bath on Hudson, presumably as gardener, when the Review of his work was being published. It is therefore likely that he was there when his 7th child Jessie Walker was born in 1872.
The estate was known as Forbes Manor long after the family closed the mansion and moved away. Abandoned for decades, the Forbes estate was used for picnics, baseball games, and gypsy encampments, while the mansion slowly fell into decay. In 1905, the Forbes Manor Improvement Company replaced the roof and began work on development projects including a brickyard, a box factory, and a horse racing track. The estate was briefly rechristened “Van Rensselaer Park”, and continued to host excursions and church picnics.”

12. Alexander Walkers’s move to Williamstown Berkshire County Mass





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