Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thomas Frederic Cheeseman

Thomas Frederick Cheeseman (1846 – 15 October 1923) was a New Zealand botanist and also a naturalist who had a wide-ranging interest in natural history, such that he even described a few species of sea slugs, marine gastropod molluscs. Cheeseman was born at Hull, in Yorkshire on 8th June 1845. Thomas came to New Zealand at the age of eight with his parents on "Artemesia", arriving in Auckland on 4th April 1854. He was educated at Parnell Grammar School and then at St John's College, Auckland. His father, the Rev. Thomas Cheeseman had been a member of the old Auckland Provincial Council.

Cheeseman started studying the flora of New Zealand, and in 1872 he published an accurate and comprehensive account of the plant life of the Waitakere Ranges.

In 1874 he was appointed Secretary of the Auckland Institute and Curator of the (at the time only fairly recently founded) Auckland Museum. Under his curatorship, the museum collections were formed. His botanical studies were valuable not just academically, but also were of importance to agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. He published papers almost every year until his death.

When Cheeseman's research began, the botany of New Zealand was quite poorly known. Cheeseman made many collecting trips including areas such as the Nelson Provincial District, the Kermadec and Three Kings Islands, and the area from Mangonui to the far north. He sometimes traveled with his friend Mr. J. Adams, of the Thames High School, after whom he named the species Senecio adamsii and Elytranthe adamsii.

Cheeseman also visited Polynesia. He published in the Transactions of the Linnean Society a full account of the flora of Rarotonga, the chief island of the Cook Group.

No comments: