Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Farquhar, Robert Townsend

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FARQUHAR, Sir ROBERT TOWNSEND (1776–1830), politician, second son of Sir Walter Farquhar [q. v.], a well-known physician, was born 14 Oct. 1776. Shortly after attaining his majority he was appointed commercial resident at Amboyna, and after holding this post for several years he was named lieutenant-governor of Pulo Penang. At the peace of Amiens in 1802 he was appointed commissioner for adjusting the British claims in the Moluccas, and for the transference of those islands to the Batavian Republic. In 1807 he published ‘Suggestions for Counteracting any Injurious Effects upon the Population of the West India Colonies from the Abolition of the Slave Trade.’ The writer formulated a scheme for supplying the demands of the colonies with agricultural labourers, chiefly by the encouragement of the Chinese to extend their migration to the West Indies, the expense to be met either by the wealthy planters or the government. In 1812 Farquhar was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of the island of Mauritius. He drew up a chart of Madagascar and the north-eastern archipelago of Mauritius, and in issuing this chart to the public anticipated the discoveries of a later period by drawing attention to new fields for British trade. He showed the necessity which existed for ‘penetrating into the great countries of the Mozambique channel and the east coast of Africa.’ During his stay in the Mauritius, Farquhar made determined and successful efforts to grapple with the evils of the slave trade. The traffic was carried on, not by the respectable inhabitants, but by a number of French adventurers, concerned in privateering. Farquhar took vigorous measures to put an end to the traffic, and concluded treaties with Radama, prince of Madagascar, and the Imaum of Muscat. These treaties were scrupulously observed, and the slave trade was eventually suppressed in the Mauritius, though it continued to be carried on in the isle of Bourbon. Farquhar resigned the government of the Mauritius in 1823, and on the voyage home visited Madagascar, to take leave of the chiefs. He was received with great ceremony, and thousands of the natives from the interior brought free-will peace-offerings, as a recognition of the efforts of the ex-governor in behalf of the native population. Upon his return to England, Farquhar was elected to parliament in 1825 for the borough of Newton in Lancashire. In 1826 he was returned for Hythe, and this constituency he continued to represent until his death on 16 March 1830. Farquhar, who was a director of the East India Company, was created a baronet in 1821. He married in 1809 a daughter of J. Francis-Louis Latour, esq., of Madras, and was succeeded by his son, Walter Minto Farquhar, M.P. for Hertford, who was born 26 Oct. 1809, graduated at Christ Church, Oxford, and died 18 June 1866 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.)

[Gent. Mag. 1830; Ann. Reg. 1830.]

G. B. S.