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regular-article-logo Saturday, 22 June 2024

Yesterdate: This day from Kolkata’s past, May 27, 1793

Robert Kyd, a British army officer and the founder of the botanical garden in Calcutta, died on this day

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya Published 27.05.24, 06:44 AM

Robert Kyd, a British army officer and the founder of the botanical garden in Calcutta, died on this day. He was buried in South Park Street Cemetery, though he had wanted to be buried in the botanical garden without any religious ceremony.

Kyd was born in Scotland. He joined the colonial service in 1764 and rose through the ranks, to be finally appointed secretary to the military department of inspection in Bengal, a post he retained till his death.

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Kyd was interested in horticulture and owned a private garden in Shalimar near Howrah.

In the 1780s, he wrote to John Macpherson, acting Governor-General of Bengal, suggesting the establishment of a botanical garden, not only to collect rare plants but also to benefit the British and the Indian populations and the British trade.

The plan was approved in 1787.

In a few decades, the garden was a major contributor to gardens in other parts of the world. It played a special role in the tea trade. The genus Kydia (Kydia calycina) in the family Malvaceae is named after Kyd.

He did not want a lavish amount paid on his last ceremony and left Rs 8 and Rs 6 to be paid monthly to his two Indian servants to compensate for their alienation from their native soil, family and community.

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