Biographical data


Prince, John


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

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


Born: 1770, baptized at the Parish Church Greenwich, Kent, England.



Was appointed on the Fort Marlborough establishment (Benkulen) of the E.I.C. in 1786, arriving there on 29 Aug. 1787. Appointed Assistant to the Resident of Natal (Maidman) on 31 March 1790, and following the French capture of the northern settlements in 1794, he took Maidmans place, holding the post until April 1798. In that year he went to Tapanuli, where he was appointed Resident on 20 June 1801. In December of that year he and his wife went to Calcutta on leave to recover their health, but returned to Tapanuli in 1802. In 1816 provisionally appointed to take charge of Fort Marlborough, but that was revoked in favour of somebody else. Prince was employed by Raffles along with William Jack, on a mission to Pulu Nias in September 1820, and P. succeeded R. as superintending officer in charge of Benkulen during the transfer of the British west coast establishments to the Dutch in 1825. Later in the Straits as Resident Councillor (from 1826-28), taking an active interest in the attempts to keep going the Botanical Garden started by Raffles.

He was described by Jack as a freezing mass of ice whom all the wonders of nature were thrown to waste. Dr J. Bastin was so kind to give above information; he found evidence quite opposed to Jacks description of Prince (see Cycl. Fl. Mal. I, 1). Raffles in a letter to his sister wrote (Sing. 18 Nov. 1825; India Office Library: Drake collection MSS Eur. D 742) that it has been said that he is not only a Prince by name but a Prince by nature too. This judgement was shared by Baptists missionaries and others.

Erycibe princei Wall. was named after him.



He sent information and living plants from Sumatra to Roxburgh;1 the latter was Director of the Bot. Garden at Calcutta till 1814, so we may assume they were sent before then. In 1819 he sent flowers of the Camphor-tree from Tap(i)anoeli to Raffles (see there). To Wallich (see there) he sent plants from Sumatra and Singapore. In Herb. Hook. (= Kew [K]): Penang plants.

His despatch of seeds and flowers of the Sumatran camphor tree to Roxburgh enabled Colebrooke (who received them due to Roxburghs departure for England) to give his excellent account of the plants in Asiatick Researches xii (1816). Princes own description of the plant is given too (Dr J. Bastin in litt. July 1972).

Unpublished drawings of Singapore plants at Kew (cf. Hook. Flora Br. India 4, p. 375).



(1) cf. Journ. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. no 73, 1916, p. 223, note 264.


biographical data:

Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.