Collecting localities



Biographical data


Horsfield, Thomas


(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: 1773, Bethlehem, Penn., U.S.A. Died: 1859, London, England.



Took his degree of M.D. in the University of Pennsylvania in 1798; he was a pupil of Prof. B.S. Barton. He visited Java in 1800 as a ship’s doctor and decided to return there. From 1802-10 he made extensive travels in the employ of the Dutch, and since 1811 in that of the English Government, in part of the Malay Archipelago, to make botanical, zoological and geological investigations, principally on Materia Medica and botany.1 Since 1804 he was aided by the Batavian Society of Arts & Sciences, who put at his disposal a draughtsman of the Naval School at Semarang.2 In 1819 he sailed for England and from 1820 till his death he was Keeper of the E.I. Comp. Museum in London.

Several plants of the Malay Archipelago were named in his honour.


Collecting localities:3















1802-03. W. Java: neighbourhood of Batavia and the Priangan Regencies as far as the boundary of Cheribon, and the southern coast of the island, visiting Mt Guntur, Mt Tangkuban Prahu, etc.4-1804. Centr. Java: in the early part of the year along the N. coast from Cheribon to Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang, visiting Mt Ungarang, Merbabu and Merapi (many plants collected at Sello); Djokja, S. coast; Solo, excursions in the neighbourhood (Mt Lawu and mud-wells of Kuwu); W. Java: G. Tangkoeban Prahoe (July); G. Guntur.-1805. From Surakarta (= Solo) (Nov. 9) to E. Java:5 investigation of the Solo River; Grissee (18); Surabaya (till Dec. 12); Pasuruan; Mt Tengger; Pasuruan (till Jan. 20); Surabaya. - 1806. In the middle of April to Banger (Bangil), Lumadjang (May); Mt Smeru and Lamongan (May); Puger and environs (beginning of June); the southern beach near Batu Ulu; Djember; G. Jang; Bondowoso; spurs of Mt Ringgit; Panarukan; excursions in the vicinity of Banjuwangi (July-Aug.): Blambangan (Sumberwaru, Badjulmati), Mt Idjen (Merapi), Ulu Pampang and to Mt Sumbulungan and Mt lkan and I day in Bali. In the month of September lying ill at Banjuwangi; in the beginning of Oct. along the N. coast to Pasuruan (till mid-Nov.); MtTengger(Dec.).-1807. Malang Regency and neighbouring districts (Jan.); Surabaya (Febr. 3).-Short visit to Madura; along the N. coast to Centr. Java: Semarang (end of the year).-1808. For several months in the neigbourhood of Semarang; residing at Solo (= Surakarta) from 1808-12, exploring the coastal mountains S of it, etc.-From Nov. 1812-Aug. 1813 to Banka and S. Sumatra (Palembang).6-In Sept. 1813 back in Centr. Java: Solo.-1814.7 From Surakarta (Aug. 2) to Jokjakarta (= Djokja); to the south via Bantul, Brossot and Kadilangu; in NW. direction (5) towards the interior via Bubutan, Jonno, Weddi (6); via Ngambal to Bedati (7); Patanaän, Kaleng, Wetton to Karang-bol(l)ong (8); visit to bird’s nests caves and exploration of the neighbourhood; the 14th setting out in northern direction, halting at Rangka; Jati-Nogoro (15) and a western course to Selondokko; Banyumas (= Banjoemas) (16); visit to SW. districts of Banjoemas, e.g. at Maos (20) and Penggalan (21); in southern direction to Bunton (22) near the sea and Talachap (= Tjilatjap); to Sukorodsho (= Soekaradja) and Purwokerto; in W. direction (Sept. 8) to Adshibarang (= Adjibarang); return (11) to Purwokerto; Probolingo (= Poerbolinggo) (12); via Sukorodsho and Purwokerto to Kumutuk for an exploration of the slopes of G. Gedè ( ? Slamat; large additions to his herbarium); Segalo, Kutto-waringin, Bandshar (= Bandjar) (Oct. 18); northward to Karang-Kobar Distr. (19), Pagger-pella; Karang Kobar (20), Kali-lunyar (= Kaliloendjar) (21), Nusupan (22), Batur (23); eastward (27) via Konang near G. Di(y)eng and Prau, descent of G. Pra(h)u (collecting plants); Kayu-rangkang, Kalibebber; to Kerteg (31); to Jittis and Pakkiswing (Nov. 2), Kamantran and Koppeng; in E. direction to Kali-Gandu; return to Souracarta (4).-1815. In the middle of the year to E. Java: Kediri, Mt Kloet and back to Solo (Nov. 2).-1816. Centr. Java: visiting Mt Prahoe (Diëng) (Oct.), the south coast and Mt Merapi.-1817. Back at Solo and exploration of the neighbourhood.-1818. Semarang and Buitenzorg (W. Java).-In the middle of the year to Sumatra: early in July leaving Bencoolen for Padang (West Coast) with Raffles (see there); Isl. Bitang(g)or (or on the voyage home ? ); Sept. 16th starting the march into the interior, Minangkabau.-At the end of the year back in W. Java: Batavia; Bantam (Mt Karang); Tjiandjoer, G. Gedeh; Centr. Java: Semarang, embarking in Jan. 1819, arriving in London in July.



Herb. Mus. E.I.C. Lond. = Herb. Linn. Soc. Lond. [LINN]: Java (identified by Miquel!) and Sumatra, 2196 nos (pres. 1858/59) partly labelled by Miquel8 (now in Kew [K], see below); Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]: with Herb. Banks (349 plants, pres. 1814-15), and 964 nos (list in Bot. Dept Br. Mus.) presented by the Dir. of the E.I.C. in 1858, including types Plantae javanicae Bennett & Brown;9 Herb. Kew [K]: Horsfield’s own set from Java, bought at a sale, wanting the Monocotyledons and Cryptogams, and Herb. Java and ? Sumatra (pres. by Linn. Soc. in 1913).10 Some duplicates in Herb. Bog. [BO], Utrecht [U], Cambridge (Java) [CGE], Sing. [SING], Herb. Turckzaninow (Kharkov [now KW and LE]), Herb. Bot. Gard. St Petersb. (= Leningrad [LE]): 604 Java plants (pres. 1884); Herb. Copenhagen [C]; and Gray Herb. [GH]. Some dupl. from Java in the Royle collection, Herb. Liverpool [LIV].

A manuscript list of Javanese Plants with letters and 33 original pen and ink sketches in Libr. Brit. Mus.; original drawings of Bennett & Brown, Plant. Jav. rar., in Bot. Dept Brit. Museum too.

In the India Office is a volume of 337 folios which appears (according to Dr John Bastin) to be Bennett’s (?) rearrangement of Horsfield’s papers, giving Javanese and (or) Latin names of plants.... Catalogues of plants etc. The official description in the I.O. includes: localities where found. The lists are mainly in two handwritings, one that of Horsfield, the other that of a copyist (B. i.l. July 1970). An ‘Algemene naamlijst der Planten van Java’ from about 1810 is in the Rijksarchief in The Hague (Arch. Binnenl. Zaken, afd. Onderwijs, exh. 8 maart 1837 nr. 114).

His collection of drawings in the India Office Library includes some of mosses from Java (nos 1638-1642)11.



(1) Th. Horsfield: ‘The natural history of Java: including besides the flora Javana, a detailed account of the zoology and mineralogy of that interesting island’ (London 1817); ‘ Zoological researches in Java and the neighbouring islands’ (London 1824); ‘On the mineralogy of Java, Essay I’ (Transact. Bat. Soc. Arts & Sci. or Verb. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 8, 1826, p. 139-173, 2nd ed.; 1st ed. in 1816); ‘Essay on the Geography, Mineralogy and Botany of the Western portion of the Territory of the Native Princes of Java’ (l.c. 8, 1826, p. 175-312); and papers on medicinal plants.

(2) cf. Verb. Bat. Gen K. & W. 7, 1814, p. iv.

(3) For Java cf. postscript and map in ‘Plantae javanicae rariores’ l.c. sub 9.

(4) cf. Transact. Bat. Soc. Arts & Sci. or Verb. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 8, 1826, p. 143 seq.

(5) Th. Horsfield: ‘Over de rivier Solo en een reis naar de Oosterstreken van Java’ (Verh. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 7, 1814, pt IV, p. 1-16); ‘Reis naar de Oosterstreken van Java’ (l.c. p. 17-31).

(6) Th. Horsfield: ‘An account of the Island Banca in the East-Indies, containing the Natural History of that Island, the particulars of its tin mines, etc.’ (London 1817); ‘Verslag aangaande het eiland Bangka’ (transl. by P.J. Veth from the Journ. Ind. Arch. and East. Asia 1848 and published in Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. 12, 1850, p. 192-226, 358-382; l.c. 13, 1851, p. 388-405 and 14, 1852, p. 321-345).

The cited English paper was not published in 1817, and never before 1848 in J. Ind. Arch. and East. Asia. Dr J. Bastin has drawn my attention to this error which was probably based on an advertisement in some copies of Raffles’ History of Java.

(7) cf. Transact. Bat. Soc. Arts & Sci. or Verb. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 8, 1826, p. 175-312; catalogue of the plants observed on l.c. p. 297-312.

(8) cf. Journ. Proc. Linn. Soc. Bot. Lond. 4, 1860, p. 197-198.

(9) J.J. Bennett & R. Brown: ‘Plantae javanicae rariores descriptae iconibus illustratae, quas in insula Java, annis 1802-18 legit et investigavit Thomas Horsfield. Etc.’ (1838-52). With postscript and map (1855).

Some of his plants were described by Miquel in his ‘Flora Indiae Batavae’ and by Turczaninow in his ‘Animadversiones etc.’.

Acanthaceae of Java by S. Moore in Journ. Bot. 63, 1925, p. 166-170.

On the drawings see Cl. Nissen, ‘Die botanische Buchillustration’ 1951, vol. 2, p. 86.

(10) cf. Kew Bull. 1913, p. 262.

(11) Cf. M. Archer: ‘Natural History Drawings in the India Office Library’ (London 1962) p. 47, 81.


biographical data:

Verb. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 7, 1814, preface iii; Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. 10, 1860, p. xix-xxi; Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. 1860 (Meeting May 24th), p. xxv-xxvi; Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 27, 1889, p. 149, and 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; Nat. Tijdschr. N.I. 21, 1890, p. 368; Greshoff, Nuttige Ind. planten, 1894, p. 95-96; Encyclop. N.I. 2, 1918; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; Boelman, Bijdrage t.d. gesch. v. d. geneeskruidcultuur in Ned. O.-Indië, Utrecht 1936, p. 57-65; Torreya 42, 1942, p. 1-9, incl. bibliogr.; Portr. in Str. Times Annual for 1971, p. 60; J.B. Stanley: ‘Horsfield in the Indies’ (ibid. for 1972, p. 85-88, portr., ill.).