Collecting localities



Biographical data


Motley, James


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


Born: 1822, near Neads??, England.

Died:  May 1859, murdered by Mohammedan natives at Bangkal near Bandjermasin, Borneo



A civil engineer who went to Labuan (1851 or ‘52)1 in connexion with coal-mining there and in 1854 was appointed Superintendent of the coal-mining operations of a private company in the territory of the Sultan of Bandjermasin of the mine ‘Julia Hermina’ near kp. Kalangan, N of Banjoe (Banyu) Irang, SE. Borneo.

He is commemorated in Barclaya motleyi Hook. f. and in several other plant names.


Collecting localities:2

1851-54. NW. Borneo: Labuan and the adjacent coasts of Borneo.3 About 185? visiting Singapore.4-1854. Centr. E. Sumatra: when on the way from Singapore to Sumatra in a ‘sampan’ (Jan. 16), touching at c. 30 islets of the Riouw-Lingga Archipelago, not reaching Sumatra, however; making a 2nd endeavour (Jan. 24) with a large proa, sailing into the northern mouth of the Indragiri ( = Koeantan) (26); going up to P. Pullas (27); passing the contributary Chenaku (= Tjenako); settlement Pulo Jumahat; P. Kamudi; P. Lys (30); kp. Seligi; Rangat (= Rengat) (till Febr. 3). W. Java: coming to Java for the 1st time (c. July) to arrange all matters with the Dutch company which worked the mines of the D.E.I.; when having to remain 6 weeks, he took the opportunity of going into the mountains, first spending several days in the Botanic Garden at Buitenzorg; staying a week at lvegoe (4000 ft, situated 20 miles from Tjipanas; this is probably Toegoe); Chepanas (= Tjipanas); G. Gedeh-Pangrango (Tjibodas, summit G. Pangrango and Tjibeureum); visiting Java for the 2nd time (Oct.), staying with Dr Burger at Batavia, when on the way to Borneo.5-1854-59. SE. Borneo: in the environs of Bandjermasin, collecting on ‘padangs’, etc.



Herb. Kew [K] (pres. 1852-64), probably partly sent by himself,2 but too by E. Barber Scott (sometimes E. Barber, or E. Barbour) who, after Motley’s departure from Labuan, purchased his collections made till 1854 and presented them to Kew [K], 1300 nos in all. Also in Herb. Cambridge [CGE]. Frullanias in Herb. N. Y. Bot. Gard. [NY].

In Sumatra and Java he especially collected mosses, hepatics and lichens, as it was impossible during his hurried trips to dry other plants. In 1854 he started making sets ofgrasses, Cyparaceae and ferns, but collected other cryptogams and phanerogams too. He cultivated many Borneo orchids, making herbarium specimens when flowering.

Part of his collections will have been lost by fire at the time of the murder.

He was interested in economic plants too; several plants were described.6



(1) According to Hook. Journ. Bot. & Kew Gard. Misc. 4, 1852, p. 201, he was in Labuan as early as May 1851, from where he sent material of the camphor-tree to W.J. Hooker.

(2) Extracts of letters of J. Motley to W.J. Hooker and W. Mitte n giving details on various trips in the Malayan Islands, in Hook. Journ. Bot. & Kew Gard. Misc. 7, 1855, p. 39-47, 78-84, 161-172, 257-269, 289-296 and l.c. 9, 1857, p. 148-153.

(3) J. Motley & L.L. Dillwyn: ‘Contributions to the natural history of Labuan and the adjacent coasts of Borneo’ (1855; dealing with mammals, birds and reptiles); cf. also Motley in Journ. Ind. Archip. 1852.

(4) cf. Burkill in Gard. Bull. Str. Settlem. 4, 1927, p. 190.

(5) cf. Abridged translation of Motley’s letters on Java in de Vriese: ‘Tuinbouwflora’ (2, 1855, p. 334-339). This extract erroneously leads one to suppose that the visit to the mountains took place during the 2nd stay!

(6) W.J. Hooker: ‘On the Camphor-tree of Borneo and Sumatra, Dryobalanops camphora Colebr.’ (Hook. Journ. Bot. & Kew Gard. Misc. 4, 1852, p. 200-206, pl. 7-8).

J.D. Hooker: ‘Illustrations of the floras of the Malayan Archipelago, and of tropical Africa’(Transact. Linn. Soc. Lond. 23’, 1860, p. 155-172, pl. 20-28).

W.H. de Vriese: ‘Aanteekeningen betreffende getahpertja boomen (Sapoteën), en getahpertja van Zuidoostelijk Borneo, naar aanleiding van ontdekkingen van James Motley’ (Nat. Tijdschr. N.I. 21, 1860, p. 299-315).


biographical data:

Nat. Tijdschr. N.I. 18, 1859, p. 455 and l.c. 21, 1860, p. 299 and 369; Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 28, 1890, p. 52, and in 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; Journ. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. no 79, 1918, p. 37-38; 8; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb. 1936; J. Mal. Br. Roy. As. Soc. vol. 60, 1987, p. 43-54.