James Silk Buckingham, an English traveller and author, born at Flushing, near Falmouth, in 1786, died in London, June 30, 1855. He was educated for the church, but went to sea, and was for several years master of a vessel. In 1813 he was engaged by the pasha of Egypt to determine the best site for a canal across the isthmus of Suez; but after he had traced the course of the ancient canal the project was abandoned, and he was commissioned to purchase ships in India and establish a trade between that country and Egypt. Having failed to accomplish this, he assumed command of a large ship belonging to the sultan of Muscat, to be employed in the China trade on the sultan's account. In 1816 he established a journal in Calcutta, but was expelled from India on account of his censures of the Indian government. He returned to London, and established the "Oriental Herald" and the" Athenaeum." Between 1822 and 1830 he published his " Travels in Palestine," " Travels in Arabia," "Travels in Mesopotamia," and "Travels in Assyria and Media," and subsequently two volumes on Belgium, the Rhine, and Switzerland, and two volumes on France, Piedmont, and Switzerland. He delivered lectures throughout the United Kingdom on British India, against the company's commercial policy, against impressment of seamen, intemperance, the corn laws, and other important subjects.
Joining in the popular agitation of the reform bill, he was in 1832 elected member of parliament for Sheffield, and retained his seat till 1837, after which he travelled extensively in America, lecturing on temperance and anti-slavery. He published his travels in ten octavo volumes, three being devoted to the northern United States, three to the slave states, three to the eastern and western states, and one to Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. In 1849 he published a volume on " National Evils and Practical Remedies," in 1851 became president of the London temperance league, and in 1855 published the first two volumes of his autobiography, but died before the work was finished. A few years before his death the East India company had granted him a pension of £300, and he also had a literary pension of £200 from the crown.