Biographical data


Bontius, Jacobus


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


Born: 1592, Leiden, Holland. Died: Nov. 30, 1631, Batavia, Java.



Physician, educated at Leiden University (M.D. in 1614); in 1626 appointed Doctor, Dispenser, and Inspector of Surgeons in the D.E.I., sailing thither with the Governor General J.P. Coen in 1627. Possibly he soon made an official tour to the Moluccas and Timor, but was stationed at Batavia, successively in several positions. In the 4 years he passed in the tropics he found the energy and time to make the first investigations of Java’s nature in the environs of Batavia, making ample notes. In 1631 four books were ready for the press, but it took several years after his death before publication followed.1

He is commemorated in the genus Bontia L.



It is assumed that dried collections were never made, or at least are not existing anymore.



(1) J. Bontius: ‘De medicina Indorum’ (Lugd. Bat. 1642, 4 vols), the 1st and most important volume being: ‘Notae in Garciam ab Orta’.

His scientific inheritance was also published in G. Pisonis, medici Amstelaedamensis, de Indiae utriusque re naturali et medica etc. (Amstelaedami 1658, 14 vols), of which 6 vols contain Bontius’s work, ‘Historiae naturalis et medicae Indiae orientalis’.

His works were translated into English too, viz: ‘An account of the Diseases, Natural History and Medicines of the East Indies, translated from the Latin of James Bntius, Physician to the Dutch settlement at Batavia’ (London 1769).


biographical data:

Nat. Tijdschr. N.I. 30, 1868, p. 285-342, 475-477; Sirks, Ind. Nat. Onderzoek, 1915, p. 5-12; Encyclop. N.I. 1, 1917; L.S.A.M. von Römer, Historische Schetsen, Batavia 1921, p. 25-43; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; Ned. Kruidk. Arch. 50, 1940, p. 186 and l.c. 51, 1941, p. 345.