Collecting localities



Biographical data


Nelson, David


(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)


Died: July 20, 1789, Koepang, Timor, Lesser Sunda Islands.



Gardener of the Botanic Garden at Kew; Assistant Botanist attached to Cook’s 3rd and last voyage (see below), during which both Cook and W. Anderson, the latter originally in charge of the botany department, died. In 1787 he accompanied the notorious voyage of the ‘Bounty’ under command of Capt. Bligh (see below); when he died after a month’s stay in Timor, he was buried in the same grave as Zipelius and Riedlé.

He is commemorated in the genus Nelsonia R.Br.


Collecting localities:

Voyage in the ‘Resolution’ and ‘Discovery’, 1776-80.1 So-called Cook’s 3rd Voyage. Sailing from Plymouth (July 12, 1776); Teneriffe, Cape of Good Hope, Kerguelen, Van Diemensland, New Zealand, Tahiti, Friendly Islands and other Pacific Isls, Society Isls, Sandwich Isls, coast of N. America and E. Asia, Japan, Macao, Canton, P. Condor; passing Banka Strait to Sunda Strait (Febr. 1780); Krakatau (c. 10-17), Prinsen Isl. (18); home voyage via the Cape and St Helena; back at Lenore (Oct.).-Voyage in the ‘Bounty’, 1787-89.2 Leaving Spithead (Dec. 23, 1787), via Teneriffe, Tierra del Fuego, Cape of Good Hope, New Holland, Tahiti; the mutiny took place when passing S of Tofua, Bligh and 18 others were set adrift in an open cutter, in which they reached Timor (Coupang, June 14, 1789), where Nelson died on the 20th. Bligh purchased the schooner ‘Resource’, reached Batavia on Oct. 1, returning to England on March 14.



Herb. Banks = Brit. Mus. [BM]: Australian, Cape and Timor plants. No list of his plants is preserved, but they are referred to incidentally;3 also mentioned in the Solander (see there) MSS.

Possibly plants were collected in Sunda Strait in 1780.

According to Dr Newcombe his botanical specimens of Cook’s last voyage seem to have become mixed with those of Menzies (cf. Arch. Brit. Columbia, Mem. no 4, 1923; n.v.).



(1) J. Cook: ‘A voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken by the command of his Majesty, for making discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere etc. in his Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Discovery in the years 1776-80’ (London 1784, 3 vols + atlas; the 3rd vol. by J. King). As the original edition was not available in Java, the French translation was used.

For itinerary in Alaska cf. Bot. Not. 1940, p. 296.

(2) ‘A voyage to the South Sea undertaken by command of his Majesty for the purpose of conveying the breadfruit tree to the West Indies, in his Majesty’s ship the Bounty, commanded by Lt. W. Bligh, including an account of the mutiny o/b the said ship, and the subsequent voyage ofpart of the crew, in the Ship’s Boat, from Tofoa, . . . ., to Timor, a Dutch settlement in the East Indies’ (London 1792). The narrative was reissued under the title ‘Bligh and the Bounty. His narrative of the voyage to Otaheite with an account of the mutiny and on his boat journey to Timor’, with a preface by L. Irving (London 1936).

(3) J. Britten: ‘William Anderson and the plants of Cook’s third Voyage’ (Journ. Bot. 54, 1916, p. 345-352; cf. also l.c. 55, 1917, p. 54). P. 351-352 of the first item deal with Nelson’s plants.


biographical data:

Gard. Chron. 18812, p. 267; Kew Bull. 1891, p. 297; Bredschneider, Hist. Bot. Disc. China 1898, p. 152-153; Maiden in Journ. Roy. Soc. Tasmania 1909, p. 15-16; Journ. Bot. 54, 1916, p. 351: Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger, 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.