Collecting localities



Biographical data


Heyne (or Heine), Benjamin


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 5: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement I)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: Jan. 1, 1770, Döbra near Pirna, Germany. Died: 1819, Vepery near Madras, India.



[F.M. 1, 1]: Surgeon of the Moravian Mission near Tranquebar, sailed for Madras in 1790; besides, acting botanist in the service of the English E.I.C.; in 1793 in charge of the pepper and cinnamon plantations. He was a member of the United Brotherhood (cf. sub Koenig). In 1812 he went on leave to Europe via Sumatra.1

[F.M. 1, 5]: Was educated at Dresden.3a According to recent information8 he sailed from Copenhagen with I.G. Klein in Sept. 1790, arriving at Tranquebar Jan. 11, 1792. In Aug. 1793 the Rev. Mr John of Tranquebar, at the request of Dr Roxburgh, selected him as a suitable person to attend to the plantation at Samulcottah; in Sept. Heyne arrived there from Tranquebar, and his appointment was approved of on Oct .4, 1793.4 When Roxburgh was ordered to proceed to Bengal, Heyne was appointed, in March 1794, to “act as the Company’s Botanist during the absence of Dr Roxburgh.5 He was, locally, appointed an Assistant surgeon on the Madras Medical Establishment on Apr. 30, 17996; surgeon in Jan. 1807; the office of Company’s Botanist at Fort St George held by Heyne was abolished in May 1808. His furlough to Europe was granted in 1811 (sailing in 1812, cf. Fl. Mal. 1); in 1813, when in England, he was elected to the Linnean Society; he returned to Madras, where he arrived on March 30, 1815. In April of the same year appointed Botanist and Naturalist. A member of the Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde Berlin. 

He employed Indian draughtsmen during his years as Company’s botanist on the Madras Establishment. He built up a large collection of flower paintings of which the India Office Library possesses, however, none. Many of his drawings passed to the second Lord Clive (Governor of Madras 1798-1803.)9

The genus Heynea Roxb. was named in his honour.


Collecting localities:

When sailing for Europe in 1812, he left Sangur o/b the ‘Harleston’ (Jan. 5); S. Sumatra: Bencoolen, near Marlborough; Rat Island (= P. Tikoes, W of Sumatra) (5 weeks’ stay); March 8 embarking again.



He made extensive collections in Madras, preserved in Herb. E.I.C. (cf. sub Wallich; = at present Kew [K]); dupl. identified by Dr A.W. Roth;2 duplicates distributed from there, e.g. in Herb. Deless. (Geneva [G]), Herb. Cambridge [CGE], and in Herb. Fischer (then Dir. of Imp. Bot. Gard. St Petersb. [LE]). Type specimens in Herb. Roth (= Berlin [B]).

Several dupl., possibly from India only, in the Royle collection in Herb. Liverpool [LIV]; probably originally given to his friend Dr Klein who collected in Madras for the English E.I.C. During a visit to Liverpool Mr Alston discovered labels with Klein’s handwriting.7 Some dupl. from India with Herb. Vahl in Copenhagen [C].

Heyne compiled a ‘Catalogue of the flora of Rat Island’ of about 70 species, which was lost.3



(1) Author of ‘Tracts, historical and statistical, on India, with Journals and several tours through various parts of the Peninsula; also an account of Sumatra in a series of letters’ (London 1814).

(2) cf. Alg. Konst- en Letterbode 18142, p. 33-34. A. W. ROTH: ‘Novae plantarum species praesertim Indiae Orientalis ex collectione Doct. Benj. Heynii cum descriptionibus et observation ibus’ (Halberstadii 1821; includes some from Sumatra!); cf. also Flora 172, 1834, p. 760.

(3) cf: Heyne, Tracts, historical and statistical etc., l.c. p. 421.

(3a) Inf. from the ‘Archiv der Brüder-Unität’, Herrnhut, Germany, Feb. 5, 1958, in litt.; the keeper of the records wonders whether Heyne was qualified to call himself Doct. Med.. A copy of his birth certificate was provided by the Lutheran minister at Döbra b. Pirna.

(4) Cf. Madras Publ. Consultations 16 Aug. 1793 and ibid. 4 Oct. 1793 (inf. in litt. by Commonwealth Relation Office, London).

(5) Cf. Madras Publ. Consultations March 1794; Public letter from Madras, July 25, 1794; approved in Public Despatch to Madras 10 June 1795 (inf. as under (4)).

(6) Cf. Despatch to Madras 10 June 1801 (inf. as under (4)).

(7) Cf. Liverpool Bull. 6, no 3, 1957, p. 19-42.

(8) Dr H. Mølholm Hansen in litt. 19.12.1957, citing from a MS of Kay Larsen: ‘Dansk-ostindiske Personalia and Data 1-3’ (København 1912), and from letters and reports published in ‘Neuere Geschichte der Evangelischen Missions-Anstalten zur Verkehrung der Heiden in Ostindien’ vols 46, 48, 50, and 61, and from unpublished letters to Vahl, Hornemann, and Jacob Glide in Copenhagen.

(9) Cf. M. Archer: ‘Natural History Drawings in the India Office Library’ (London 1962) p. 27, 28.


biographical data:

Catal. Scient. Pap. 3, p. 345; Cyclop. of India 2, 1885 (part. bibliogr.); Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; Bot. Tidsskr. 52, 1955, p. 56-57; Harms in Engl. & Prantl, Pfl. Fam. 2nd ed. 191, 1940, p. 117.