Collecting localities



Biographical data

Photo gallery


Griffith, William


(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: 1810, Ham Common, Surrey, England. Died: Febr. 9, 1845, Malacca.



Educated at London University, surgeon in the service of the East India Company (since 1832); appointed civil surgeon of Malacca in mid-1841; recalled to take charge of the Botanic Gardens, Calcutta in 1842, and Professor of Botany there; return in Malacca early in 1845.

His ‘Posthumous Papers’, bequeathed to the E.I.C., were arranged by John MacClelland.1 His special interest was morphology. Ridley2 refers to a George Griffith, probably a mistake.


Collecting localities:

Mostly in British India.-Malay Peninsula. Malacca: first stay (1841-mid-1842), making journeys to Naning, Mt Ophir and Mt Mering (Febr. 1842); second stay (arriving Jan. 9, 1845), visiting P. Penang on the way to Malacca.



Herb. Kew [K];3 dupl. in Calcutta [CAL].4 Other duplicates in Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]: 431 Malacca plants (purch. 1869) with Herb. Ward; Herb. Boiss. (Geneva [G]); Herb. Decand. (Geneva [G]) (546); Univ. Dublin [TCD]; Herb. van Heurck (= Antwerp [AWH]) (2370); Herb. Oxford (with Herb. Fielding [OXF]); Munich [M]; Imp. Gard. St Petersb. (= Leningrad [LE]) and Acad. Sci. ditto; Leiden [L]; Vienna [W]: e.g. Malacca orchids with Herb. Reichenbach; Bot. Gard. Zurich [Z]; Sing. [SING]; Florence [FI]; Madrid [MA]; Berl. [B]: Malacca plants; Paris [P]; some pharmaceutical plants in the Hanbury Herb. (Lond.); in Herb. Martius (= Brussels [BR]). A set of dupl. was presented by Kew to Herb. State Mus. Stockholm [S] in 1865. Also dupl. in Herb. Edinb. [E].

He employed the native collector E. Fernandez (see there), and in 1845 Verapha and Ninghul (see there).

Among his miscellaneous collections was one of: Malacca, Tenasserim, and Afghanistan plants, distributed and numbered by himself. The best sets of these went to the late Dr Lemann, and the majority form part of the Cambridge Univers. Herb. [CGE]; the second sets were communicated by Griffith to Sir W. Hooker’s Herb. [K]; others were sent to Dr Gardner of Ceylon and Dr Wight of Madras. Of these Gardner’s was sold at his death, when Sir W. Hooker purchased the Malacca specimens. His private collection was bequeathed to the E.I.C., and distributed by Kew.3

Several plants of the Malay Peninsula were described.5



(1) ‘Journals of travels in Assam, Burma, Bootan, Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries’ (Calcutta 1847; with notice of ... and a few extracts from his private correspondence); ‘Itinerary notes on plants collected in the Khasyah and Bootan mountains, 1837-38, in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, 1839 to 1841’ (Calcutta 1848; incl. ‘Notes on the vegetation about Malacca’ on p. 368-374; ‘Letters to Dr R. Wight’, etc.); and many systematic papers, cf. Hook. Lond. Journ. Bot. 7, 1848, p. 446-449, and Journ. Bot. & Kew Gard. Misc. 2, 1850, p. 352.

(2) cf. Journ. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. no 25, 1894, p. 166.

(3) J.D. Hooker: ‘Catalogue of the plants distributed at the Roy. Gard. Kew ... from the herbaria of Griffith, Falconer and Helfer’ (London 1865, iv + 58 pp., printed for private distribution) (plants of different collectors not separately mentioned!). Griffith’s herbarium was originally presented to the Herb. Linn. Soc. (cf. Bot. Zeitung 8, 1850, p. 632).

(4) cf. Journ. As. Soc. Bengal 25, 1856, p. 410-411; Hook. Journ. But. & Kew Gard. Misc. 9, 1857, p. 34.

(5) W. Griffith in ‘Notulae ad plantas Asiaticas’ (Calcutta 1847-54, in Posth. Papers arranged by J. M’Clelland).

By Hooker f in Transact. Linn. Soc. Lond. 231, 1860, p. 155-172, pl. 20-28.


biographical data:

Proc. Linn. Soc. 1, 1845, p. 239-244 (copied in ‘Journals of travels’ l.c. LITER. sub 1); Madras Journ. Lit. & Sci. 14, p. 187; Journ. Nat. Hist. 6, p. 294; Journ. Agr. Hort. Soc. Calc. 4, 1845; Hook. Lond. Journ. Bot. 4, 1845, p. 371-375; Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Gard. Chron. 18992, p. 252; J.D. Milner, Catalogue portraits at Kew, 1906, p. 55; Buckland, Dict. Ind. Biogr., 1906; Oliver, Makers of British Botany, 1913, p. 178-191, w. portr.; Dict. Nat. Biogr. 23, p. 240; Burkill in Gard. Bull. Str. Settlem. 4, 1927, nos 4-5; Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger, 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.


photo gallery:

c. 33 years old

Drawn on stone by Edward Morton from a daguerrotype.