Henry Gilbert Michell Forlong

Last Name: 
First Name: 
Henry Gilbert Michell
Grave Plot No.: 
Date of birth: 
year of death: 
date of death: 
14 Dec 1847
Age at death: 
8m 17d
Son of James Forlong, indigo planter. His brother William James Forlong served in the Guides regiment at Mardan. James Forlong married twice in 1837 to Charlotte Heightley Nicholson and in 1846 to Constance Turton.
Full Epitaph: 
Sacred to the memory of/ HENRY GILBERT MICHELL/ the infant son of/ James Forlong Esquire/ and grandson of/ Sir Tho E Turton Bart/ Born on the/ 28 of March 1847/ Died on the 11 December 1847
Place of death: 
Tomb architecture: 
Pedestal tomb
Detailed information: 

His father, James Forlong, is a prominent figure in the Indigo revolt and was involved in the controversy regarding the indigo planters against the missionaries who criticised the indigo planting practices. James Forlong was the manager of the Handra Indigo plantation at Mulnath, near the Icchamati River. The proprietor of the plantation was a Mr Hill. A sketch of Mulnath House features in Colesworthy Grant's Sketches from a Rural Life (also see MSS Eur B369/4 http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/indiaofficeselect/OIOCShowDescs.asp?CollID=3...).

Forlong was called the 'white sheep among the black flock' by the Hindoo Patriot because of his supposedly liberal attitude attitudes and philanthropy, which included establishing a free hospital for his workers as well as English and Bengali schools, financed by planters' subscriptions. Thomas Machell, the well-known chronicler of the Indigo trade, served as an assistant to Forlong. Despite his liberal reputation, Forlong was nevertheless criticised by his cultivators, later on. Correspondence between Forlong, the Indian complainants and the British authorities can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/no3puxx.

Ranajit Guha states in his article 'Neel-darpan: the Image of a Peasant Revolt in a Liberal Mirror':

So, it appears, did Prankrishna Pal, identified by James Forlong of the Nischindipur factory as an influential zamindar and an enemy of the planters, who had been trying 'to induce the ryots not to sow indigo and to sow a large breadth of rice cultivation'. Two other landlords, Ramnidhi Chatterjee and Nabokisto Pal, both big talukdars, are also named by Forlong as active and powerful opponents

Guha goes on to describe Forlong as 'a liberal planter friendly to both sides' and mentions how Forlong testified to the Indigo Commission against the mahajani [usury] interests of the small talukdars [landholders]

James Forlong seems to have moved to Tirhoot in Muzaffarpore later on and is mentioned in the History of the Behar Indigo Factories by Minden Wilson. Forlong seems to have been made a colonel but Wilson remarks on his lack of military training. From Wilson's account it seems that Forlong died at sea on his voyage back to England. Forlong and his estate at Mulnauth are mentioned many times in the journals of explorer and entrepreneur, Thomas Machell.

A plaque dedicated to Charlotte Forlong (photo shown below) can be found in St. Andrew's Kirk, Calcutta. Colesworthey Grant's sketch of James Forlong is also included below.


1860, Bengal (India) Indigo Commission. Report of the Indigo Commission, 1860. Publication Bureau, University of North Bengal, 1992.
Balfour-Paul, Jenny Deeper than Indigo: Tracing the Footsteps of Thomas Machell, Forgotten Explorer. Medina Publishers. 2015.
Bose, Sugata. Peasant Labour and Colonial Capital: Rural Bengal Since 1770. Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Guha, Ranajit. "Neel-Darpan: The Image of a Peasant Revolt in a Liberal Mirror", Jl. Peasant Studies, ii, 1974.
Oddie, Geoffrey A. Missionaries, Rebellion and Proto-Nationalism: James Long of Bengal. Routledge, 2014.
Punekar, S.D, and Varickayil. Labour Movement in India: 1850-1890 : Mines and Plantation. Popular Prakashan, n.d.

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Photo 2 close up: 
This record has been created by:: 

Souvik Mukherjee