Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born on 8 July 1794 at Darlington, Yorkshire, England, and died at York on 20 January 1869.
A nurseryman and Quaker missionary, was, according to Hooker (Fl. Tas. I, cxxv), a good collector and observer who visited Port Phillip between 1832 and 1838. Maiden gives the period as 1838 to 1841; but from Backhouse's own account (Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies, 1843) we learn that he landed at Point Nepean on November 9, 1837, reached Melbourne village the next day, and remained in the environs for 10 days, sailing again for South Australia on November 19. A few local plants are mentioned incidentally, e.g. Drooping She-oak, Silver Banksia, Swamp Paperbark at the mouth of the Yarra, and Goodenia species, but whether he took any specimens back to England I have not ascertained. His impact on Victorian botany was practically nil.
[Commemorated by two species in Victoria, viz. the coastal Wilsonia backhousei and alpine Helichrysum backhousei]
Source: Willis, J.H. (1949) Botanical pioneers in Victoria-I. Victorian Naturalist 66:83-89
Nurseryman. Botanised in Teesdale, Yorkshire, etc., I803-65. Missionary friend in Norway and the Southern Hemisphere. Correspondent of J. E. Smith and W. J. Hooker.
Backhouse was an admirable botanist and collected in every Australian colony and also in Norfolk Island. I have given an account of his South Austnalian work in (v), where is a list of species which commemorate him. He wrote the following, which contain many valuable botanical observations :-" Extracts from the letters (and journal) of J. B. ..in Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales ( Australia, Mauritius, South Africa), accompanied. by G.W. Walker." London, 1838-41, 8vo. "A narrative of a visit to the Australian Colonies." London, 1843, 8vo. "A narrative of a visit to Mauritius and South Africa." London, 1844, 8v0. At Kew there is a MS. volume Iabelled "Backhouse, James, Botany of New South Wales" (2 vo)ls. fol.).
Source: Maiden, J.H. (1909) Records of Western Australian Botanists. Journal of the West Australian Natural History Society. 2(6):5-33
Naturalist, nurseryman, Quaker missionary, artist. With his brother & later his son ran a nursery in York specialising in alpine plants. Arrived Hobart, Tas., Feb. 1832 with G.W.Walker to establish Quaker Houses; visited Rocky Cape Dec. 1832; in N.S.W. 1835-37, e.g. Sydney, Appin, Coogee, Bathurst, Newcastle, Goulburn, visiting Norfolk Is. in 1835, Moreton Bay (but these collections possibly gathered by W.MacArthur) & Port Macquarie; returned to Tas. 1837, departed 3 Nov.; then to Melbourne (9-19 November), Adelaide (28 Nov.-14 Dec., King George Sound (25 Dec.), Perth (arrived 29 Dec. [Erickson (1987) gives 6 Jan. 1838]); dep. from Fremantle 12 Feb.1838 to return to England. Collected in all States incl. seaweeds. Wrote paper on edible plants of Tas. & an account of Tas. plants, published in J.Ross, Ross's Hobart Town Almanack and Van Diemen's Land Annual for 1835 pp 61-114(1835); wrote A Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies (1843).
Specimens(many numbered) mainly at K, also BM (algae), BRI, E, NSW, PERTH (2),YRK; also at K are two manuscript volumes listing 1451 species with notes onmedicinal, culinary & economic uses; a diary of Aust. visit & list of plants of Norfolk Is. are at Mitchell Library (extracts of each in Kraehenbuehl, 1996); another such list & one of plants noted at Moreton Bay & L.Macquarie are in the Linn. Soc, London.
Commemorated in Backhousia, also species of Beyeria, Blandfordia, Correa, Octoclinus, Wilsonia & Helichrysum.
Portrait: Davis (1989) p.248; Kraehenbuehl (1996) p. 49.
Source: George, A.S. (2009) Australian Botanist's Companion, Four Gables Press, WA. [consult for source references]