Born Launceston, Tas., 16 May 1820; died 'Fairfield', Cressy, Tas., 15 Oct.' 1874.
He qualified as an architect in England but returned to practise in Tasmania, where he was elected a member of the first Legislature. On the death of his father he came into possession of the family estates and was able to devote more time to botanical interests; he took his many plant specimens to Kew and worked there from 1856-58. Joseph Dalton Hooker dedicated his Flora Tasmaniae to Ronald Gunn and William Archer and refers to Archer:
"I am indeed very largely indebted to this gentleman, not only for many of the plants described, and much of the information which I have embodied in this work, but for the interest he has shown during its whole progress and for the liberal contribution of the thirty additional plates all of which are devoted to the Orchidaceae and chiefly made from his own drawings and analyses."
For some years Archer was secretary of the Royal Society of Tasmania, as well as being a fellow of the Royal Society and the Linnean Society. In the case of Eucalyptus archeri, although the name was not published until 1919, the type material was collected by Archer in the Western Mountains of Tasmania, in January 1848. His name is also commemorated in species of the genera Carex, Danthonia, Diselma, Mitrasacme, Prasophyllum and Psoralea.
NOTE: There is some confusion as to whether there should be an 'H' in the initials of this William Archer (1820-1874), although it appears on herbarium specimen labels. It might result from confusion with two other naturalists at the time, William Henry Archer (1825-1909) and William Henry Davies Archer (1836-1928). see: Hansen, Anita (2008) 'The Significance of 'H' in William H Archer in Australian Herbarium Collections', Kanunnah 3: 94-97.
Source: Hall, N. (1978) Botanists of the Eucalypts. CSIRO, Melbourne. (this reference has his year of birth as 1829, but consensus seems to be 1820); Hansen, Anita (2008) 'The Significance of 'H' in William H Archer in Australian Herbarium Collections', Kanunnah 3: 94-97.
Architect. Studied & worked in England 1836-42. From 1848 owned property 'Cheshunt' near Deloraine; in England 1856-59; moved to Melbourne 1871; ret. to 'Fairfield', Tas, Jan. 1874. Designed many buildings in Tas. & stained glass window in Christ Church, Longford. Member of first Legislative Council, Tas, then of Legislative Assembly. Collected widely in Tas. (incl. seaweeds, many fungi), esp. around Deloraine in 1840s & '50s, keeping copious notes; C. Bridgewater 1844, Woolmers Dec. 1847, Jan. 1848, Meander R. 1848, 'Western Mtns' 1848, George Town 1850. Account of excursion in May 1848 to Cummings Head & Meander Falls in Pap. Proc. Roy. Soc. Tas. for 1870 54-61, 1871).
Specimens mainly at BM, E (incl. bryophytes), K, MANCH, NSW (most give W.H.Archer in error: see A.Hansen, Kanunnah 3: 94-97, 2008), TCD & elsewhere. Worked at Kew 1856-1858, made many botanical drawings esp. of orchids, some used by J.D.Hooker in Flora Tasmaniae. Wrote papers for Pap. Proc. Roy. Soc. Tas. Account of mosses of Tas. in paper by W.Mitten,/. Proc. Linn. Soc, hot. 4: 64—100 (1860). Commemorated in Archeria, Antburus, Carex, Cortinarius, Danthonia, Dasya, Dianella, Diselma, Eucalyptus, Mitrasacme, Plantago, Prasophyllum. Journals at University of Tas.
Portrait: Chick (1991) p. 161.
Source: George, A.S. (2009) Australian Botanist's Companion, Four Gables Press, WA. [consult for source references]