Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
He arrived in New Holland in 1791 as a captain in the 102nd Regiment.
He had asked Joseph Banks to support his application
to become a Fellow of the Royal Society before leaving England. Banks advised
him to postpone his application until he had been able to 'advance Natural
History', suggesting that his departure for New South Wales would provide
him with a good scope for discoveries. Not only did Paterson collect natural
history items for Banks but he also supplied seed to the Lee and Kennedy and
Colvill nurseries. While based on Norfolk Island he compiled an account
of the flora and entrusted this to Banks. The manuscript is believed
to be that in the Dixson Library collection in Sydney. While it was
undoubtedly useful for its time, it reveals that Paterson had only a limited
knowledge of botany. He used only generic and common names, not binomials.
On the basis of the botanical treatment for Norfolk Island Paterson asked
for membership of the Royal Society. He wrote to Banks:
Banks declined to nominate Paterson for membership of the Society until his return to England. It was thus 1797 before Paterson was elected a Fellow.
Text extracted from R.M. Barker & W.R. Barker in P.S.Short (ed.) (1990), 'Botanical
Contributions Overlooked...', 'History of Systematic Botany
in Australasia'. Australian Systematic Botany Society.
Portrait by William Owen (1769–1825), painted 1799. Original held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Accession number 806.
Paterson's notes on the Flora of Norfolk Island have been digitised and can be seen in an album that forms part of the Mitchell Library collection of the State Library of New South Wales:
His correspondence with Banks can also be seen in the same collection: