Archibald CAMPBELL b Islay 1805, s/o Archibald Campbell, tacksman of Ardmore, Kildalton Parish
This is an article in the latest issue of The Ileach (I receive mine in e-format – you might want to consider doing the same)
This article is an excerpt from a book written by Les Wilson. It is shared with permission of the author, Les Wilson, via The Ileach. If you connect with this family, Les would be happy to hear from you. leswilsonislay@...
Putting the Tea in Britain Islay author, Les Wilson, relates the story of Islay’s Archibald Campbel
Islay is famous for malt whisky, but it has a claim to be the birthplace of another famous drink – the finest tea in the world, Darjeeling. Les Wilson, the author of a new book about Scotland’s role in the history of tea, reveals all: I n 1840 a rising star of the British Empire was sent on a mission to establish a British outpost on a mountain ridge that the native tribes people called Dorji Ling ‘the place of thunderbolts’ in the foothills of the Himalayas. Archibald Campbell was born on Islay in 1805, the sixth child and third son of Archibald senior, the tacksman of Ardmore in the parish of Kildalton. Young Archibald would lead an extraordinary and adventurous life. He graduated in medicine from Edinburgh University and travelled to India as an East India Company ship’s surgeon. After a spell as a military doctor in India, Campbell was appointed surgeon at Kathmandu in Nepal. A natural linguist (he would have left Islay bilingual in English and Gaelic) he quickly picked up Nepalese. The ‘intelligent and zealous’ doctor was soon assigned diplomatic duties, and his appointment to Darjeeling was a move in ‘the great game’ to protect Britain’s ‘buffer state’ of Sikkim, from being conquered by the warlike Nepalese Gorkhas who might then go on to threaten British Assam. Campbell energetically began to develop his little mountain fiefdom in the British manner – building roads, European-style houses, a church and a bazaar to bring traders. Doctors at this time relied entirely on plant-based medicines and Archibald Campbell was a skilled botanist. Among the plants he introduced to his estate was tea – plants from the stock recently smuggled from China by another Scottish tea pioneer, Robert Fortune. Campbell’s flourishing tea bushes encouraged other growers, many of them Scots, and by 1856 there were 39 tea gardens with 10,000 acres under cultivation. Today there are more than 80 tea gardens in the valleys around Darjeeling. Ones like Bannockburn and Glendale serve as working memorials to the Scots who first cleared, planted and named them. Campbell was delighted to host the plant-hunting expedition led by the famous botanist Joseph Hooker who was on his way to Sikkim. Hooker had been raised in Glasgow and Helensburgh from where he made youthful botanical expeditions to Arran and Argyll. The two men became firm friends and Campbell accompanied Hooker into Sikkim. But while the Raja of Sikkim had given permission for the expedition, he had forbidden the pair to cross into Tibet. When they disobeyed this rule, they were arrested, and handed back over to Sikkim Sepoys who bound and beat Campbell, threatening him with knives. The hardy Ileach, reported Hooker, ‘defended himself with a stick.’ The Sikkimese resented Campbell for the part he played in Britain’s interference in their country and that night, when Campbell tried to leave the overcrowded hut they had been put in, things turned nasty. Hooker recalled: ‘He had scarcely left when I head him calling loudly to me, “Hooker! Hooker! The savages are murdering me!” I rushed to the door and caught sight of him striking out with his fists, and struggling violently; being tall and powerful, he had already prostrated a few, but, a host of men bore him down, and appeared to be trampling on him; at the same moment I was myself seized by eight men, who forced me back into the hut …’ Campbell was tortured and threatened with execution, and it was only the arrival of a British regiment on Sikkim’s border that secured the release of the two men. Despite its dramatic ending, the expedition was a huge scientific success, and Joseph Hooker would eventually succeed his father as the Director of Kew Gardens. As for Campbell – his legacy is the greatest tea in the world.
Putting the Tea in Britain: The Scots Who Made Our National Drink, by Les Wilson, was published by Birlinn on 3 June.
I’m not related. Checking the OPR transcriptions, I suspect this might be the family:
This Archibald is not in my tree. Found my CAMPBELL line in LDS's Family Search, back to the 1550's. if one can believe what one reads?
Will subscribe to The Ileach when I am able to return to Islay.
Thanks for sharing this.
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