William Stephenson, the surgeon
William Stephenson's was involved in Mitchell's fourth expedition in 1846
to central Queensland as the party's 'Surgeon, and Collector of objects
of Natural History'. Although one of the officers, there is some
doubt about due credit being accorded to him as collector. Apparently
he was dragged before the courts by Mitchell for withholding botanical
and other natural history items (Gilbert 1981), for which he was found
not guilty. We have not seen or heard of any collections which have
been attributed specifically to any of Mitchell's personnel on his four
expeditions. All Mitchell expedition specimens seen have printed
labels bearing only Mitchell's name, or hand written labels with 'Major
Mitchells Expedition'. As we have already seen, in his account of
the fourth expedition Mitchell occasionally credited Stephenson and others
in the party with the collection of specific plants. Yet, in terms
of annotating specimens with the collector's name, Stephenson the surgeon
appears to have been treated like Richardson the convict.
Collections attributed to Stephenson do occur in herbaria. All
seen were made either before or after the Mitchell expedition, often with
the printed general locality, 'within 125 miles of Sydney'.
Extracted from R.M. Barker & W.R.
Barker (1990), 'Botanical Contributions Overlooked...' in 'History
of Systematic Botany in Australasia' ed: P.S. Short, ASBS.
Australian National Herbarium - updated
13 November, 2007
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