Geologist and mining engineer. Brother of Edward Forbes. Supervised mining and metallurgical works in Norway, 1848–57. Travelled in South America, 1857–60, in search of ores of nickel and cobalt for the firm of Evans & Askins, nickel–cobalt refiners of Birmingham. After more years of travelling, he settled in England and became foreign secretary to the Iron and Steel Institute in 1869. FRS 1858.