Collecting localities



Biographical data

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Chalmers, James B.


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

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 5: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement I)


Born: 1841, Ardrishaig, Scotland. Died: April 8, 1901, Isl. Goaribari, S. coast New Guinea.



Since 1866 missionary of Raratonga; in 1877 he set out for New Guinea by way of New Zealand and Australia. He made numerous New Guinea travels, on the last of which he was murdered by cannibals.

Author of several books and smaller publications relating to his travels.1

Appendicula chalmersiana F.Muell., Aglaia chalmersii C.DC., etc. were named after him.


Collecting localities (not fully complete):

SE. New Guinea. 1877. Departing from Sydney (Sept. 20); Darnley Isl. (Oct. 6-9); Murray Isl. (12-17); mainland of New Guinea, 5 miles from Bura (21); Port Moresby (22), trip inland (± 10 miles) with MacFarlane and Goldie; by boat along the coast (sailing Oct. 31, making trips into the interior) with Lawes (see there), to Kerepunu (Nov. 6); to Teste Isl. (8); Moresby Isl. (22-23); further along the coast by way of South and East Cape (unttil Jan. 20 1878).-1878. For Jan. see before. In the spring departing from Sydney; sailing along the coast of New Guinea from east to west; exploration of the hinterland of Kerepunu and on foot along the coast from Keppelpoint to Macfarlane Harbour. With H.M. Chester sailing in the ‘Ellengowan’ from Thursday Isl. (July 1); Somerset, Murray Isl., Bura (July 14), Port Moresby (16), tour to golddiggers bivouac on the Laloki River (18); departure Port Moresby (23), Hood Bay (24); trip from Hula to the Kemp Welch River (25); Kerepunu (26), Dundee River (27), Kerepunu (30); sailing in eastern direction (Aug. 1) and trip to Maopa; Grange Isl., Dufaure Isl., Stacey Isl. (= Suau, Aug. 10-12); to the mainland, crossing the southeastern peninsula from Warauru (= Varaura) on the Catamaran Bay (13) to Waga-Waga (= Vaga-Vaga) (18) on Milne Bay; to South Cape (22), China Strait, Dinner Isl., Stacey Isl.; Sept. 14 in the ‘Ellengowan’ to Hula and Kerepunu and back (21). Several short tours by boat.-1879. From Port Moresby (July 15) visiting the interior in NE. direction, e.g. the mountainous country between Goldie and Laloki River; back at Port Moresby (Sept. 26). In the ‘Ellengowan’ from Bura (Nov. 22) to the Gulf of Papua, via Yule Isl.-1880. Intending a visit to Owen Stanley Range via Goldie River; setting out from Port Moresby (June 7) via Laloki to Goldie River; this proved impracticable and instead the sources of the Kemp Welch River were visited; finally the latter’s mouth near Kalo was reached (July 10); back at Port Moresby (15)2. From Port Moresby (July 3 1) to Bura and Redscar Bay, Kabadi Distr. To Na(a)ra, district near Cape Suckling (Oct.).-1881. From Port Moresby (Oct. 24) to Elema by boat.-1882. From Port Moresby (Febr. 6) to Bura, Manu-Mann (8), Kabadi, Aroa River, and back via Bura. Aug. 7 to Manu-Manu, Daura (Daura) region, Redscar Point (12) and by way of Bura back to Port Moresby. At the end of the year with W.G. Lawes (see there) to Sogeriregion, via Laloki River (Rauna Fall).-1883. Trip to distr. of Oiabu (Maiva) and Mekeo. Tour by boat along the Papua Gulf (setting out Oct. 5), Hall Sound (6), Iokea (8), to Delena; on foot to Orokolo (13), leaving by boat (27) to Iokea (29); return to Port Moresby (Nov. 1).-1884. By boat from Port Moresby to the NW. coast region; on account of ill health not past the debouchment of the Wai Lala (= Annie River). Some trips by boat (Febr.-March) with Wyatt Gill, e.g. to Maiwa, Delena, Yule Isl., Hula, Hood Bay, Kalo, Maopa, Kerepunu, Bura (Lawes too); from Port Moresby (March 12) to Laloki River; Fairfax Bay. Ascent of the Cloudy Mts (Nov. 28-29).3 Trips on board H.M.S. ‘Raven’: from Port Moresby (Dec. 27) to South Cape, Killerton, East Cape, and see sub 1885-1885. Porlock Bay (Jan. 1-2), Caution Point (3), Traitor’ Bay (3), Deaf Adder Bay (4-5), Goodenough Bay (7), d'Entrecasteaux Isls (8), Bentley Bay, Killerton Isls (10), and trips o/b H.M.S. ‘Dart’ with Capt. Bridge: East Cape, anchoring near Rook Isl., Long Isl. From Samarai (Apr. 29) to Aroma. By boat (July 25) to the stations situated E of Port Moresby, e.g. to Tupuselei, Kaile, Kapa-Kapa, Hula, Kalo, Aroma, mouth of Clara River, Belerupu (Macfarlane Harbour), Parimata, Kerepunu, Hula, Port Moresby. By boat to the subdistricts Daura and Kabadi, visiting all intermediate stations; Port Moresby (before Aug. 19). Trip inland with a party to the Varagadi villages. Dec. 12 setting out with H.O. Forbes (see there). -1886. cf. sub H.O. Forbes. On English furlough (Aug. 10, 1886-July 25, 1887).-1887. From Sydney (Sept. 13) to Port Moresby. At the end of the year in the ‘Ellengowan’ to Annie River (Wai Lala) and Wickham River.4-1888. Tour of inspection to the mission stations W of Port Moresby (March) and after return, to the eastward ones; back at Port Moresby (mid-May).-1889. Visit to the mission stations W of Hallsound-1890. Some tours with W. MacGregor (Febr.; see there), when the latter’s ascent of the Fly River was over and before the latter's return to Port Moresby. On foot from Toaripi to Oiapu. In July departing from Port Moresby to Queensland, shipwrecked; back at Port Moresby (Aug. 15), from where to Toaripi and by canoe to Mowi Awi.-1892. Along the coast of the Gulf of Papua (June); from Port Moresby to Toaripi, mouth of the Wai Lala (Annie River), Orokolo, and by land to the mouth of the Alélé (Aréré), the Urika, the Kaimari, back to Kariki and downstream to Port Bloomfield; the Ai Wai.5-1893. From Port Moresby (Jan. 5) to the islands in Torres Strait; mouth of the Fly, Orokolo (Febr. 1), ascending the Wai Lala part of the way (2), Kerema, Toaripi (4), Jokea (8), Delena at Hall Sound (9); by canoe to Cape Suckling and journey inland to Nala (Nara), staying until the 13th; by way of Delena back to Port Moresby (14).6-Probably 1894. Navigation on the Fly River (last trip described in ‘Pioneer Life’ l.c.).-On furlough to England (July 3, 1894-Nov. 13, 1895).-1901. Embarking in Darn Isl. (Apr. 4), to the Aird River with O.F. Tomkins.7



Herb. Melbourne [MEL], ± 79 nos; dupl. in Herb. Decand. (Geneva [G]) and Herb. Berl. [B]; some ferns in Herb. Bonaparte (= Paris [P]); U.S. Nat. Herb. Wash. [US]: 15 dupl. N.G. grasses. Herb. Copenh. [C]: dupl. N.G. Scitamineae.

The bulk of his collections was worked up by F. von Mueller.8



(1) Chalmers & Wyatt Gill: ‘Work and adventure in New Guinea 1877-1885’ (1885); transl. into German: ‘Neuguinea. Reisen and Missionsthätigkeit, 1877-1885’ (Leipzig 1886).

J.B. Chalmers: ‘Adventures in New Guinea’ (Religious Tract Soc. 1886); ‘Pioneering in New Guinea’ (London 1887); ‘Explorations in South-Eastern New Guinea’ (Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. N.S. 9, 1887, p. 71-73); ‘Pioneer Life and Work in New Guinea 1877-1894’ (New York etc. 1895); many papers in Chron. Lond. Miss. Soc.

(2) cf. Ann. Rep. Br. N.G. for 1897/98, Victoria 1899, p. 7-9 (diary H.N. Chester).

(3) cf. Ausland 60, 1887, p. 671-675, and Further Corresp. resp. N.G. Febr. 1885, p. 90.

(4) J.M. Hennesy: ‘Report of a trip to the western part of the south coast of British New Guinea’ (in Proc. & Transact. Roy. Geogr. Soc. Australasia Queensl. Br. 3, 1887/88 (non vidi).

(5) cf. Chron. Lond. Miss. Soc. 1893, p. 52-57, 95-98; and Geogr. Journ. Lond. 2, 1893, p. 172-173.

(6) According to Wichmann, Entd. Gesch. N.G., in Nova Guinea, this trip is erroneously placed in 1892 in ‘Pioneer Life etc.

(7) cf. Ann. Rep. Br. N.G. for 1900/01, p. 25-35; Chron. Lond. Miss. Soc. 1901, p. 188-189 and l.c. 73, 1908, p. 119.

(8) ‘Descr. Not. Pap. Pl.’ pts 6-8, 1885-86; in Viet. Naturalist 3, 1886, p. 45-52; Wing’s South. Sci. Rec. 2, 1882, p. 95-97, in l.c. n.s. 1, 1885, 2 pp.; and l.c. 2, Fehr. 1886, 2 pp.; in Melbourne Chemist & Druggist, June 1884; and in Austr. Journ. Pharm. April 1886.

F. Kränzlin mentions Dendrobium sphenochilum F.Muell., collected by Chalmers and Capt. Bridge in the Cloudy Mts, in Oesterr. Bot. Zeitschr. 44, 1894, p. 255; cf. also l.c. p. 208-212.

Some ferns in Bonaparte, Notes ptéridol., e.g. in fasc. 13, 1921, p. 227-235.

Some mosses by Geheeb in Bibl. Bot. Heft 13, 1889.


biographical data:

W. Robson: ‘James Chalmers missionary and explorer of Raratonga and New Guinea’ (London 1887, 2nd ed., w. portr.); Ann. Rep. Br. N. G. for 1900/01, p. xliv-xlvi, and App.D. p. 25-35 (massacre report); Tijdschr. K.N.A.G. 1901, p. 726; Cuthbert Lennox: ‘James Chalmers of New Guinea. Missionary, Pioneer, Martyr’ (London 1902); Allg. Miss. Zeitschr. 29, 1902, p. 171-183, 236-250; C.A.W. Monckton, Some experiences of a New Guinea Resident Magistrate, vol. 2, Chapt. VI, p. 117 seq. (Penguin book); Autobiography and letters by Lovett (1905, w. ill.); E.H. Hayes: ‘Chalmers of Papua’ (Relig. Educ. Press Ltd, Surrey, 1930 and later ed.); Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.


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