Biographical data


Cleyer, Andreas


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


Born: 1634, Cassel, Germany. Died: 1697 or 1698, Batavia, Java.



Physician of dubious character, who came to the D.E.I. as a soldier; appointed Rector of the Latin school at Batavia in 1666 (the next year Curator), in the same year Head of the Medicinal Shop of the E.I. Company and subsequently of the Chemist’s Shop. Chief of the E.I. Comp. at Decima near Nagasaki (Japan) 1682-83, making much out of illicit trade; in 1685 in the same position again, organizing a lively smuggling; when detected by the Japanese government in 1686, his Japanese accomplices were decapitated and he himself was banished for lifetime. During several years he was a member of the Superior Court of Law at Batavia, in which place he layed out botanical gardens at Molenvliet and near Angké. Athis own expense he employed a botanical collector at the Cape of Good Hope and had drawings of plants made (preserved at Cape Town). He was a correspondent of Rumphius,3 to whom he sent plants, and whom he supplied with drawings for the ‘Herbarium Amboinense’. In Japan he bought a collection of 739 drawings of Japanese plants (later at Berlin via J. Breyn), to which von Siebold added the scientific names in 1856. The ‘Specimen Medicinae Sinicae’, edited by him in 1682, is written by Michaël Boym S.J., a missionary in China. According to Lasèque1 he has described 300 Javan plants; this may refer to a book published by his gardener (in his employ from 1678-87), Georg Meister,2 containing notes on c. 60 Javan plants, a list of seeds brought from Ceylon and Java to Holland, besides notes on Japanese plants.



He sent plants, e.g. of clove and cinnamon from the Moluccas (probably from specimens cultivated in his garden) to J. Breyn about 1688. The latter forwarded them to Petiver; now in Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM] with Herb. Sloane ‘Botanicum Hortense & medicinale indicum’. The specimens are mostly referred to by Ray. Specimens of Breyn’s Herbarium are preserved in the Brit. Mus. [BM], at Oxford [OXF], and with Herb. Burman in Herb. Deless. (Geneva [G]) and maybe in Leiden[L]; these herbaria may contain other Cleyer plants.



(1) Mus. Bot. Deless., 1845, p. 434.

(2) G. Meister ‘Der orientalisch-Indianische Kunst- and Lust-Gärtner, das ist: eine aufrichtige Beschreibung derer meisten Indianischen, als auf Java Major, Malacca and Jappon, wachsenden Gewürtz-, Frucht- and Blumen-Bäume etc. (Dresden 1692).

(3) cf. letters in ‘India Literata’ p. 424-427, 429-431, and also p. 432-433 (Appendix to M.B. Valentini, Historia simplicium reformata, Francofurti a/M 1716).


biographical data:

Haller, Bibl. Bot., 1, 1772, p, 585-587; Sprengel, Hist. Rei Herbariae, 2, 1808, p. 81-82; Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Tijdschr. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 46, 1903, p. 423-468; Ind. Gids 321, 1910, p. 1136-1148; Geneesk. Tijdschr. N.I. 51, 1911, p. 159-171, 215-227; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936, cf. also sub Addenda; H.A.C. Boelman, Bijdrage t.d. Gesch. der geneeskruidcultuur in Ned. O.I., Leiden 1936, p. 34-41; Bijdr. Gesch. Geneesk. 21, 1941, p. 148.