Collecting localities



Biographical data


Bladh, Pet(t)er Johan


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


Born: 1746, Vasa, Finland. Died: 1816, Bennvik at Narpes, Vasa Prov., Finland.



Passed his youth at Vasa in Finland, and studied for some time at Åbo. From 1766-84 in the employ of the Swedish East India Company, the years 1777-83 permanently stationed in China, but in total staying there much longer. From 1766-75 he accompanied several voyages to the East (see below), respectively as a clerk, 2nd, and 1st assistant of the supercargo; in 1776 appointed supercargo and from the next year stationed at Canton, where he later became agent of the trading-station. In 1784 he returned definitely to Europe, and settled as soon as possible in Finland, taking with him all of his curios to Bennvik estate, where everything was Chinese. In 1808, during a war, his house was badly plundered by the Russians. In business, and ‘kansliråd’ at the nearby Kaskö (= Kaskinen).

He always had a keen interest in natural history and in 1770 attended Bergius’s lectures, and courses in mineralogy, and chemistry at Stockholm as a visitor. A correspondent of C.P. Thunberg,1 who named the genus Bladhia after him (= Ardisia), but also of A.J. Retzius, and A. Bäck. In 1779 he was appointed member of the Royal Swedish Academy at Stockholm.


Collecting localities:2 

.In the East-Indiaman ‘Lovisa Ulrica’ from Göteborg (Dec. 16, 1766) via Cadiz and Java to Canton (arrival Aug. 25, 1767), back in Sweden June 17683.-In the ‘Adolph Friederic’ from Göteborg (Dec. 1768) to East India, returning June 1, 1770.-In the ‘Stockholms Slott’ from Vasa.-In the ‘Stockholms Slott’ from Jan. 9, 1772-June 1, 1773, bringing A. Sparrman to the Cape.-In the ‘Sophia Magdalena’ (Capt. C.G. Ekeberg), Jan. 1774-June 1775; in 1774, having visited Batavia and Angkè on the N. coast of W. Java4.-In the ‘Stockholms Slott’, Jan. 1777, to Canton (see also A. Alnoor and H.P. Wennerberg), passing Sunda Straits ín July of the same year, meeting Thunberg at Anger (= Anjer), W. Java5, subsequently Nord Ejland (= prob. Noordeiland or P. Moendoe), and passing Banka Straits; back in June 1778.

Evidently most of the China voyages were made via Java.



In Herb. Bergius (= R. Swed. Ac. Sc. Stockholm [SBT])6, at least from Ind. Or. and China; also in Herb. Linnaeus (= Linn. Soc. Lond. [LINN]), Herb. Retzius (= Lund [LD])7, Herb. Thunberg (= Uppsala [UPS]), and Herb. Bäck (= Uppsala [UPS]), but possibly from China and Macao (coll. there at least in 1782) only; in Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM] (with Herb. Banks).

In 1777 Bladh wrote to Thunberg8 that he was looking for a suitable correspondent at Batavia, partly for making scientific collections, partly for other information. Thunberg (who recently had visited Batavia) brought him into connection with a Dutch physician, J. Hoffman. Whether the latter really made collections for the Swedes is not yet known to me.

Bladh also made zoological and ethnographical collections.



(1) Several MS letters from Bladh to Thunberg in Library University of Uppsala; much of Bladh’s correspondence preserved in Vasa (Finland); other MSS of Bladh at Göteborg.

(2) Cf. B. Lunelund: ‘Peter Johan Bladh och Svenska Ostindiska compagniet åren 1766-84’ (Svensk. Litteratursällsk. Hist. Litteraturhist. Stud. 16, Helsingfors 1940, p. 298-341).

(3) Description of Bladh’s voyage with Holmer’s papers in Sjöhistorisk. Mus., Stockholm; Bladh’s ‘Utgiftsbok’ of this voyage, together with other papers of his in Osterbottens Historiska Museum (Vasa, Finland) (the book contains all purchases and expenditures made at Cadiz, Java, and Canton) (n.v.).

(4) See letter from Bladh to Thunberg, dated Canton, Dec. 15, 1774, in MS collection University Library Uppsala.

(5) See other letter from Bladh to Thunberg at Uppsala; also letter from Thunberg to Bergius, dated Ceylon, Oct. 7, 1777, in R. Swed. Ac. Sc. Stockholm.

(6) Cf. A. Holmberg in Personhist. Tidskr. 43, 1944-45, p. 104 (written ‘Blad’).

(7) In Dec. 1780 A.J. Retzius thanked Bladh for a despatch of plants, and said to be jealous of Thunberg, who was ahead of him by naming the genus Bladhia! (MS letter in Vasa).

(8) See letter dated July 1777 in University Library Uppsala.


biographical data:

Bretschneider, Hist. Bot. Disc. China 1898, p. 111-112; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; B. Lunelund: ‘Peter Johan Bladh och Svenska Ostindiska compagniet åren 1766-84’ (Svensk. Litteratursällsk. Hist. Litteraturhist. Stud. 16, Helsingfors 1940, p. 298-341); O. Gerz, Kungl. Fysiogr. Sällsk. i Lund 1772­1940, 1940, p. 94, 220.