Collecting localities



Biographical data

Photo gallery


Menzies, Archibald


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

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


Born: 1754, Stix House, near Aberfeldy on the Tay, Scotland. Died: 1842, Notting Hill, England



Went to Edinburgh and worked under the botanist Dr John Hope; in 1781 he took his degree in medicine in Edinburgh, and in 1782 he entered the Navy as assistant surgeon. When stationed for several years on the ‘Assistance’ he had an opportunity to study the flora of coastal eastern America and the West Indies. His first correspondence with Sir J. Banks dates from May 1784.

In 1786 he was appointed surgeon on the ‘Prince of Wales’ (see below), in 1791 on the ‘Discovery’ as naturalist.

On retiring from the Navy he practised in London.

Menziesia J.E.Sm. and several plant species were named after him.


Collecting localities:

Voyage in the ‘Prince of Wales’ and the ‘Princess Royal’, 1786-89.1 Sailing (Sept. 1786) under Capt. Colnett, visiting Nootka Sound, NW. American coast, Hawaii, New Zealand, China (leaving Feb. 1789); off the Isle of Wight on July 14, 1789. Menzies may have left the ship in China returning home independently, but there is no certainty whether, nor when exactly Sumatra was visited (a specimen in Herb. Linn. Soc. London is dated Feb. 1789!).-Voyage in the ‘Discovery’ and ‘Chatham’, 1791-95.2 Sailing from Falmouth (Apr. 1, 1791) under Capt. Vancouver, for the North American Pacific by way of the Cape of Good Hope, New Holland (Australia), New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii, and the Sandwich Islands; the home voyage was made via Valparaiso and St Helena.



He made botanical and zoological collections. He bequeathed his large herbarium of cryptogams, Gramineae, Junci, and Carices, to the Edinburgh Botanic Garden [E]. Several plants were given to Banks during lifetime. Many plants remained with his family till about 1871, when they were presented to the New College Edinburgh; these were acquired by the Brit. Mus. [BM] by exchange in 1886.3 Also dupl. in Herb. Martius (= Brussels [BR]), Herb. Lambert (now in Brit. Mus. [BM], Geneva [G], and also dupl. at Oxford [OXF] and Cambridge [CGE]), Herb. Smith (Linn. Soc. London [LINN]), and Herb. Vienna [W].

He collected Ophioglossum and other ferns in S. Sumatra in 1789.4 It is not known to me whether the ‘Prince of Wales’ touched that island. An undated specimen from Singapore is in Edinburgh [E].

See Supplement II under D. Nelson. Herbarium specimens often signed ‘A.M.’ on the back of small sheets.



(1) Cf. Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. 156th sess., 1943/44, p. 171-172 (1945), and Banks’ Correspondence (VI: 181) (according to Alston), As the documents concerning this voyage were seized by the Spaniards on the NW. Pacific Coast, very little is known of this expedition.

(2) Daily Journal by Menzies, 5 vols MS. in the British Museum (Add. MS. 32641) (n.v.). A transcript was in the possession of F.R.S. Balfour who intended to present it to the Linnean Society. Parts of the Journal, resp. dealing with British Columbia, California, and the Sandwich Islands, were published.

For itinerary in Alaska see Bot. Not. 1940, p. 297.

(3) Cf. G. Murray & J. Britten, History of the collections contained in the Natural History Department of the British Museum 1, 1904, p. 168.

(4) Cf. J.M. Cowan: ‘Some information on the Menzies and Jack collections in the Herbarium, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’ (Not. R. Bot. Gard. Edinb. 21, 1954, p. 219-227).


biographical data:

Backer, Woordenb. 1936; Proc. Linn. Soc. Lond. 156th sess. 1943/44, p. 170-183 (1945); portr. at the Linn. Soc. Lond. and at Kew, reproduced in Madroño 1, 1923, facing p. 262 and in Occ. Pap. Calif. Ac. Sc. no 20, 1943, facing p. 15; Trans. R. Soc. New Zeal. 88, 1960, p. 63-64..


photo gallery:

W.L. Epson, Madroño 1 (1923) 262-266