Hooker’s Australasian Collectors

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Flora Tasmaniae

Hooker mentioned most of these collectors in a section of his introduction to the Flora Tasmaniae called ‘Outlines of the progress of botanical discovery in Australia’ .

In addition to his friend, the Irish algologist, William Henry Harvey, Hooker noted that ‘amongst the other zealous collectors of the Algæ of the coast, not elsewhere mentioned in this sketch, are G. Clifton, Esq. Of Fremantle, Dr. Curdie, of Geelong, Mr. Rawlinson, and Mr. Layard of Melbourne, and in Tasmania, Mrs. M’Donald Smith, Mrs. W.S. Sharland, and especially the Rev. John Fereday, of Georgetown'.

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Archer, William (1820–74)

Born in Launceston, Tasmania. Trained in England as an architect. Studied Tasmanian plants in Kew herbarium 1856–58. Acknowledged by Hooker for ‘his observations and collections’. Sent algae to Harvey. Drew orchids for Flora Tasmaniae. Contributed an appendix on ‘vegetable products’ to Whiting’s Products and Resources of Tasmania 1862. Letters and herbarium at Kew. MSS at Tasmania University .

In the Flora Tasmaniae, Hooker singled out Archer for special mention:

It remains only to mention my friend William Archer, Esq., F.L.S. of Cheshunt, who, after a residence of upwards of ten years in Tasmania, during which he sedulously investigated the botany of the district surrounding his property, returned to England in 1857, with an excellent herbarium, copious notes, analyses, drawings, and a fund of accurate information on the vegetation of his native island, which have been unreservedly placed at my disposal. I am indeed very largely indebted to this gentleman, not only for many of the plants described, and much of the information that I have embodied in this work, but for the active interest he has shown during its entire progress, and for the liberal contribution of the thirty additional plates, all of which are devoted to the Orchideæ, and chiefly made from his own drawings and analyses. (Hooker 1859: cxxvii)

Sources

Published
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 1: 1840–1859, Bern, Peter Lang, 1998.
  • Chick, Neil The Archers of Van Diemen’s Land.
Archival

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Backhouse, James (1794–1869)

James Backhouse was mentioned by Hooker as an important collector, who added that his notes are ‘now in the Hookerian library’ .

In 1813 joined firm of Wagstaffe in Norwich to gain gardening experience. With his brother, Thomas, bought Telford’s nursery, York, 1815. Sailed to Australia as Quaker missionary in 1831. While in Australia, sent plants and seeds to York nursery and to W. J. Hooker. Toured in S. Africa, 1838- 40. Returned to England and nursery at York, 1841.#

Sources

Published
  • Backhouse, James Extracts from Letters... 1838–41.
  • Backhouse, James Narrative of Visit to Australian Colonies 1843.
  • Backhouse, James ‘Indigenous Plants of Van Diemen’s Land’ (in Ross’s Hobart Town Almanack and Van Diemen’s Land Annual 1835, 61–114).
  • Barker & Barker ‘Botanical contributions overlooked: the role and recognition of collectors, horticulturalists, explorers and others in the early documentation of the Australian flora’ (in Short, PS, A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, South Yarra, Victoria, Australian Systematic Botany Society, 1990).
Archival

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Bidwill, John Carne

See entry under Flora Novae-Zelandiae

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Clifton, George (1823-1913)

Prison officer. Born in England. Served in the Royal Navy. Emigrated to WA in 1851. Police officer at Fremantle. Returned to England in 1864, became governor of Portland prison and then of Dartmoor. Plant donor to the Melbourne Botanic Garden [Gibbney & Smith (1987)]. Mueller correspondent but none has been found.

Sources

Published
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 2, Bern, Peter Lang, (forthcoming).
Archival

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Curdie, Daniel (1810-84)

Medical practitioner and pastoralist. Born in Scotland. Arrived in Aust. in 1839. Established Tandarook sheep station near Camperdown, Vic. Limosella curdieana.

Sources

Published
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 2, Bern, Peter Lang, (forthcoming).
Archival

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Drummond, James (c.1784–1863)

b. Hawthornden, Midlothian c. 1784. d. Perth, WA, 27 March 1863. Brother of Thomas Drummond (c.1790–1835), employee of George Dickson, nurseryman, Edinburgh. Curator, Cork Botanic Gardens (1809–1829). To Swan River Colony, 1829. Government botanist and curator botanic gardens. Sent plants to William Jackson Hooker and James Mangles. Letters at Kew .

Hooker said of Drummond:

Early in 1839, Mr. James Drummond, a resident in the Swan River, at Hawthornden, near Guildford, commenced preparing for sale in Europe sets of the plants of his district, which include a vast number of novelties, and rival in interest and importance those of any other part of the world. Mr. Drummond’s exertions were actively continued for upwards of fifteen years, during which he made extensive journeys as far as King George’s Sound in a south-east direction, and the Moore and Murchison rivers to the northward. Some accounts of his journeys and discoveries will be found in the ‘Botanical Journal,’ vols. ii., iii., and iv., in the ‘London Journal of Botany,’ vols. i., ii., and iii., and in the ‘Kew Journal of Botany,’ vols. I., ii., iv., v. (Hooker 1859: cxxvi)

Sources

Published
  • Barker & Barker ‘Botanical contributions overlooked: the role and recognition of collectors, horticulturalists, explorers and others in the early documentation of the Australian flora’ (in Short, PS, A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, South Yarra, Victoria, Australian Systematic Botany Society, 1990).
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 1: 1840–1859, Bern, Peter Lang, 1998.
  • Lines, William J. An All Consuming Passion: Origins, Modernity and the Australian Life of Georgiana Molloy, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996.
Archival

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Ronald Campbell Gunn

Gunn, Ronald Campbell (1808–81)

Emigrated to Tasmania in 1839, superintendent of convict prisons and a police magistrate. Correspondent of William Jackson Hooker and Lindley, also JE Gray (British Museum (Natural History)) . Plants at Sydney, BM(NH), Kew & Oxford. Letters at Kew, Mitchell Library. MSS at RHS .

In 1855 elected to the Launceston seat in the Legislative Council, but soon retired to win the Selby seat in the House of Assembly. Retired from Parliament in 1860, became deputy-commissioner for Crown lands in northern Tasmania. Provided evidence on state of prisons to Backhouse. FLS (1850) and FRS (1854). Edited Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science for 7 years from 1842. Contributed to London J. of Bot. First wife died 26 June 1836, giving birth to 6th child. Gunn remarried in 1841, Margaret Legrand (1817–95), with whom he had another 5 children. Left his herbarium to the Royal Society of Tasmania, from where it went to the National Herbarium in Sydney. Family papers ‘in private custody’ (T.E. Burns, J.R. Skemp, Australian Dictionary of Biography: 492–3).

Hooker said of Gunn:

Ronald Campbell Gunn, Esq., F.R.S. and L.S., to whose labours the Tasmanian Flora is so largely indebted, was the friend and companion of the late Mr. Lawrence, from whom he imbibed his love of botany. Between 1832 and 1850, Mr. Gunn collected indefatigably over a great portion of Tasmania, but especially at [lists localities]… There are few Tasmanian plants that Mr. Gunn has not seen alive, noted their habits in a living state, and collected large suites of specimens with singular tact and judgement. These have all been transmitted to England in perfect preservation, and are accompanied with notes that display remarkable powers of observation, and a facility for seizing important characters in the physiognomy of plants, such as few botanists possess.

I had the pleasure of making Mr. Gunn’s acquaintance at Hobarton in 1840, and am indebted to him for nearly all I know of the vegetation of the districts I then visited; for we either studied together in the field or in his library; or when he could not accompany me himself, he directed one of his servants, who was an experienced guide and plant-collector, to accompany me and take charge of my specimens. I can recall no happier weeks of my various wanderings over the globe, than those spent with Mr. Gunn, collecting in the Tasmanian mountains and forests, or studying our plants in his library, with the works of our predecessors Labillardière and Brown. (Hooker 1859: cxxv)

Sources

Published
  • Balaam, Violet E. ‘Ronald Campbell Gunn’, Victorian Naturalist, 82 (3), (1965), 90-91.
  • Barker & Barker ‘Botanical contributions overlooked: the role and recognition of collectors, horticulturalists, explorers and others in the early documentation of the Australian flora’ (in Short, PS, A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, South Yarra, Victoria, Australian Systematic Botany Society, 1990.
  • Baulch, W ‘Ronald Campbell Gunn’ in Burns & Skemp, 1961 (below).
  • Buchanan, AM ‘Ronald Campbell Gunn (1808–1881)’ (in Short, PS, A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, South Yarra, Victoria, Australian Systematic Botany Society, 1990).
  • Burns, TH & Skemp, JR ‘Van Diemen’s Land Correspondents: Letters from RC Gunn, RW Lawrence, Jorgen Jorgenson, Sir John Franklin and others to Sir William J Hooker, 1827–1849’, The Records of the Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston, 1961.
  • Ducker, Sophie C. The Contented Botanist: Letters of W.H. Harvey about Australia and the Pacific, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1988.
  • Endersby, Jim ‘Joseph Hooker: the making of a botanist’. Endeavour, vol. 25, No. 1, March 2001: 3–7.
  • Endersby, Jim ‘“From having no Herbarium.” Local knowledge vs. metropolitan expertise: Joseph Hooker’s Australasian correspondence with William Colenso and Ronald Gunn’. Pacific Science, forthcoming (2001).
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 1: 1840–1859, Bern, Peter Lang, 1998.
  • Maiden, J.H. ‘Records of Tasmanian Botanists’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, (1909), 9-29.
  • Reynolds, J. ‘Ronald Campbell Gunn’, Tasmanian Naturalist, 1 (1926).
  • Willis, J.H. ‘Botanical Pioneers in Victoria’, Victorian Naturalist, 66 (1949), 83-89; 103-109; 123-107.
  • Yaldwyn, John & Hobbs, Juliet (eds.) My Dear Hector: Letters from Joseph Dalton Hooker to James Hector 1862–1893, Wellington, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 1998.
Archival

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Harvey, William Henry (1811–66)

Irish botanist and algologist. Lifelong friend of William Jackson Hooker. Emigrated to S. Africa in 1835, returned to Britain for health reasons in 1842. Keeper of University Herbarium, Dublin until 1848, when he became Professor of Botany for the Royal Dublin Society . Collected WA & Tasmania (1854–56). Letters at Kew, BM(NH), Trinity College Dublin & Harvard. Notes at National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin .

In the introduction to the Flora Tasmaniae, Hooker mentioned the importance of Harvey’s 1854 visit to Australia .

Sources

Published
  • Ducker, Sophie C. The Contented Botanist: Letters of W.H. Harvey about Australia and the Pacific, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1988.
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 1: 1840–1859, Bern, Peter Lang, 1998.
  • Yaldwyn, John & Hobbs, Juliet (eds.) My Dear Hector: Letters from Joseph Dalton Hooker to James Hector 1862–1893, Wellington, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 1998.
Archival

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MacGillivray, John (1822–67)

MacGillivray was the Herald’s naturalist (also on Rattlesnake, 1846–50) and a source for the Flora Tasmaniae. Settled in NSW .

Sources

Archival

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Mangles, James (1786–1867)

FRS 1825. Entered Royal Navy, 1800; retired as Commander. Visited Swan River Settlement, W. Australia, 1831. James Drummond, Mrs. Molloy and others collected W. Australian plants for him.

Hooker mentioned John Lindley’s ‘Sketch of the Vegetation of the Swan River Colony’, and noted that Lindley acknowledged the work of ‘Captain Mangles R.N. and R. Mangles Esq.’ .

Sources

Published
  • Lines, William J An All Consuming Passion: Origins, Modernity and the Australian Life of Georgiana Molloy, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996.
Archival

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MacDonald-Smith, Charlotte ( –1838)

Charlotte Smith (née Macdonald), was married to the local shopkeeper at Circular Head, on the north western shore of Van Diemen’s Land, where Gunn was briefly stationed in the late 1830s. Gunn mentioned her in a letter to William Hooker, when he noted that some of the algae he was sending had been collected by a ‘Mrs John Grant Smith’, who not only collected seaweeds but also assisted Gunn by changing the drying paper for his specimens while he was out collecting. Very little is known about her, beyond these references and the fact that Lindley named the orchid genus Macdonaldia in her honour.

Sources

Published
  • Buchanan, AM ‘Ronald Campbell Gunn (1808–1881)’ (in Short, PS, A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, South Yarra, Victoria, Australian Systematic Botany Society, 1990).
  • Burns, TH & Skemp, JR ‘Van Diemen’s Land Correspondents: Letters from RC Gunn, RW Lawrence, Jorgen Jorgenson, Sir John Franklin and others to Sir William J Hooker, 1827–1849’, The Records of the Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston, 1961.
  • Lindley, John ‘A Sketch of the Vegetation of the Swan River Colony’. In Edwards’s Botanical Register - Appendix to Vols. 1–23 (1 Jan. 1840).

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Oldfield, Augustus Frederick (1820–87)

Botanical collector in Tasmania, NSW and WA in 1850s. Sent plants to Ferdinand von Mueller. Returned from Australia in 1862. Herbarium and letters at Kew. MSS at Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney .

Mentioned in the introduction to Flora Tasmaniae as ‘a zealous collector and as a careful and acute observer’. However, Hooker also commented, ‘now, I believe, in Western Australia’, which suggests they had lost touch by the time the volume was published .

Sources

Published
  • Home, R.W. et al (eds.) Regardfully Yours: Selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller. Volume 1: 1840–1859, Bern, Peter Lang, 1998.
  • Maiden, J.H. ‘Records of Tasmanian Botanists’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, (1909), 9–29.
Archival

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