Biographical data


Arnold, Joseph


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

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

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: 1782, Beccles, SE of Norwich, England. Died: July 26, 1818, Padang, Sumatra.



Sometimes erroneously named Arnoth or Arnott; Surgeon in the British Navy, 1808-16. In 1815 he sailed from Australia homeward bound in the "Indefatigable". The ship touched Batavia (Sept. 3), and burnt out on Oct. 22 in the harbour. In this way Arnold was forced to stay in Java2 for more than 3 months before having the opportunity of a passage to England in the "Hope". He botanized a.o. at Ciceroa (= Tjiserua) and visited G. Tangkuban Prahu. The living plants he brought from Java for Sir J. Banks were dead on arrival (by rats, seawater, etc.). He evidently drew some Java plants. Was recommended to Raffles by Sir J. Banks in 1817. He left England for Sumatra in Nov. 1817. In 1818 appointed Naturalist in the service of Raffles who at that time was Lieutenant-Governor of Benkoelen (= Benkoelen). In his capacity of Naturalist he made several trips in Sumatra.

Raffles stated in a letter to Dawson Turner, dated 12 April 1820, that Arnold’s collections in Sumatra were altogether unimportant and that the few plants were examined by Dr Horsfield who did not think them of much interest. They were forwarded with the rest of their collections to Mr Brown, i.e. Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM] (Dr J. Bastin i.l. 28 Nov. 1972).

Rafflesia arnoldi R.Br. was named after him and Raffles.1

Arnold’s letters from Sumatra are published by Dr J. Bastin.3



He left behind collections of plants (acc. to Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., shells and fossils too; the latter two were bequeathed to the Linnean Society). On his 2nd trip in S. Sumatra, he detected the mentioned Rafflesia near P. Lebar on the Manna River (2 days upstream) on May 20, 1818. In Herb. Bog. [BO] 1 dupl., viz H.B. no 17315, originating from Siak (Sumatra East Coast). Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]: plant from Java (coll. Oct. 30, 1815). The collections of shells etc. were apparently sold at auction by the Linnean Society on 10 Nov. 1863; present whereabouts unknown. A copy of their description is in Mitchell Library, Sydney (Dr J. Bastin in litt., July 1972).



(1) cf. Transact. Linn. Soc. Lond. 131, 1822, p. 201-234, t. 15-22; Flora 42, 1821, p. 637-641.

(2) His Java Journal will in due time be published by Dr J. Bastin (London). See J. Mal. Br.R.As. Soc. 46 (1973), pt. 1, 92 pp., 11 pl.

(3) J. Soc. Bibliogr. Nat. Hist. 6 (1973) p. 305-372, 4 pl. (1 portr.).


biographical data:

D. Turner: ‘Memoir’ (Ipswich 1849); Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 26, 1888, p. 55, and in 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; J.D. Milner, Catalogue portraits in Kew, London 1906, p. 4; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.

In D.C. Boulger, The life of Sir Stamford Raffles, London 1899, p. 282-283 + portr.

Portr. in Str. Times Annual for 1971, p. 60.