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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Forbes, Henry Ogg

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Forbes, Henry Ogg, A.L.S., F.R.G.S., F.Z.S., ex-Director of Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, N.Z., is the son of Rev. Alexander Forbes, M.A., and Mary (Ogg) his wife. He was born at Drumblade, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and was married in Java on April 5th, 1882, to Annabella, daughter of William Keith, of Aberdeen. From Oct. 1878 to the end of 1883 he was engaged in exploring the islands of the Dutch East Indies, travelling in Java and Sumatra; and after April 1882, accompanied by his wife, he visited the Moluccas and Timorlaut (where, in daily peril of their lives, they were forced to spend three months), Bouru, and Timor. The results of these years have been published in "A Naturalist's Wanderings in the Eastern Archipelago" (Sampson Low) and by Mrs. Forbes in a volume, "Insulinde: Experiences of a Naturalist's Wife in the Eastern Archipelago" (Blackwood). On the publication of the "Wanderings" Mr. Forbes started for New Guinea to attempt the exploration of Mount Owen Stanley. This expedition was under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Scientific Geographical Society, and under the recognition of the Government, by whom it was recommended to Sir Peter Scratchley, K.C.M.G., then appointed first Special Commissioner over British New Guinea. With twenty-five Malays and Amboinese carriers, he reached Port Moresby in Sir Peter's yacht, the Governor Blackall. Arriving too late for the dry season of that year, he established a camp to the east of the Astrolabe mountains, in the Sogeri country, whence explorations were conducted for many miles round the camp, and surveys made of the region. Toward the end of the year, he accompanied Sir Peter as a scientific expert on his journey along the north-eastern coast to Nutre rock and the Boundary Cape, on the 8th parallel of south latitude, the line of separation between the German and English spheres of influence. On this journey Sir Peter contracted the illness which so suddenly and unexpectedly proved fatal. His illness and death prevented the signing of the papers to authorise the payment of the contribution which was largely to support the expedition. Mr. Forbes maintained the expedition at Sogeri as long as the public and his own private resources could afford, in the hope that Sir Peter's successor, the Hon. J. Douglas, would contribute the sum well known to have been promised by Sir Peter Scratchley to the expedition, but not seeing his way to do this, he appointed Mr. Forbes Resident at Dinner Island, and subsequently Government Meteorologist at Port Moresby, whence he was in 1887 instructed to conduct an exploration towards Mount Owen Stanley via the Goldie Valley. This expedition reached the very base of the mountain, and would have without doubt attained the summit but for the unexpected attack on the main camp by the natives of Ebe, during Mr. Forbes' absence, in which everything was looted. This calamity necessitated a withdrawal from the region back to the coast, which was effected without loss of life, though after many hardships. Returning to England in March 1888, Mr. Forbes was appointed in July to succeed the late Sir Julius von Haast as Director of the Canterbury Museum at Christchurch, N.Z., a position he held till 1892. He has contributed to the transactions of various learned societies.