Collecting localities



Biographical data


Lay, George Tradescant


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


Died: 1845 or 1847, Amoy, China.



Naturalist on Capt. Beechey’s voyage in the ‘Blossom’ (1825-28),1 which did not operate in Malaysian waters; in 1836 to China, as Agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. In the latter year an American expedition to China was planned by some rich American Houses; a small vessel, the ‘Himmaleh’ was bought and sent from New York for a voyage of exploration, principally for the purpose of aiding missionaries circulating religious books on the coasts of China etc. The ship arrived at Macao in August 1836; Lay accompanied the expedition (see below).2 After returning from the cruise in 1837 he resided at Macao and became a learned sinologist, subsequently entering the British Consular Service; in 1843 appointed British Consul at Canton, in 1844 transferred to Fu Chow, and in 1845 to Amoy.

He is commemorated in the genus Layia Hook. & Arn.


Collecting localities:

Voyage in the ‘Himmaleh’, 1836-37.2 Left Macao Roads (Dec. 3, 1836); Singapore (Dec. 15-Jan. 29, 1837), Lay paying a visit to Malacca (Malay Peninsula); sailing (Jan. 30) past Carimata (= Karimata) Islands, and along the southern shores of Borneo; arrived at Tanakeke (= P. Tanakeke, off the SW. point of Celebes) (Febr. 7), hovering about the eastern side of the island until the 10th (Lay etc. to Makassar to call a pilot); SW. Celebes: Makassar (Febr. l0-March 5);3 P. Tanakeke (March 6); departing (7), cruising to Bontain or Bounthain (= Bonthain); along the southern and eastern sides of Celebes, past the islands of Salayer, Booton (= Boeton) (March 11), and the Hula groups, to the Moluccas: anchored in the harbour formed by Ternate, Tidore and Gilolo (= Halmahera) (25- ), visiting the Sultan of Ternate (31); Philippines:4 Mindanao, Zamboanga (Apr. 23-. .), climbing the summit of the mountain (25); Borneo, evidently visiting Brun(e)i and the Island of Labuan (prob. staying from end of Apr.-May); returned to China in July 1837.



Herb. Brit. Mus. [BM]: a small collection of plants from Macao collected on Beechey’s voyage in 1827, and Philippine plants (probably coll. 1837).

The final section on ‘Natural History’ of Lay’s book2 describes birds and plants from several of the above-mentioned localities, so we may assume that material was collected, which probably is in the British Museum too.

E. von Martens, when dealing with the molluscs of the ‘Preussische Expedition nach Ost-Asien’, cites specimens collected by L.C. Lay on Beechey’s voyage in Timor and N. Celebes (Manado). This is certainly a mistake; nor were these places visited on the voyage in the ‘Himmaleh’.



(1) G.T. Lay & E.T. Bennett, Fishes in ‘The zoology of Captain Beechey’s Voyage’ 1839, p. 41-75; pl. 15-23.

(2) G.T. Lay: ‘Notes made during the voyage of the Himmaleh in the Malayan Archipelago’ (vol. of ‘The claims of Japan and Malaysia upon Christendom, exhibited in Notes and Voyages made in 1837 from Canton, in the Ship Morrison and Brig Himmaleh, under direction of the Owners’ (2 vols, New York, E. French, 1839; author of the 1st volume is C. King) (non vidi; data received by the courtesy of the Missionary Research Library, New York).

(3) G.T. Lay: ‘Sketches of the Natural History of Macassar etc.’ (Chinese Repository 6, 1838, p. 449-460).

(4) G.T. Lay: ‘Review of Blanco’s Flora de Filipinas’ (l.c. 7, 1838, p. 422-437).


biographical data:

Bretschneider, Hist. Bot. Discov. China, 1898, p. 290-294; Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger, 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931.