Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born in England in 1810; married the Rev. John Fereday in 1837; died in Sale, Victoria on 21 October 1878.
Susan Fereday was a trained artist and a skilled watercolourist, with natural talent and a remarkable body of work. She was accomplished in portraiture and landscapes and, after emigrating to Van Diemen’s Land, she turned her talents to painting the local flora. Working alongside her husband collecting and recording algae, she gained respect and recognition in the world of science. Susan demonstrated a superior sense of composition and her work was not only technically skilful but also accurate in the species types represented. The National Library of Australia holds an important collection of her work, donated by her descendants, of the local George Town flora.
Born in England in 1810, Susan arrived in Van Diemen’s Land, aboard the Aden, in 1846 with her husband, Reverend John Fereday, and six children. The Reverend had been appointed the rector of St Mary Magdalene Church of England, George Town.
The pristine environment around Susan’s home, The Grove, provided a profusion of native plants to paint.
Many renowned botanists, naturalists and scientists visited the Fereday home, as the Reverend was an amateur algologist who also specialised in shells. He was a gifted photographer and charming host, and the family enjoyed the stimulating company of their frequent guests.
Susan was absorbed into this scientific community and worked closely with her husband, collecting the abundant algae and shells found on the banks of the Tamar River, which was almost on their doorstep. In recognition of Susan’s contribution to the study of algae, William Henry Harvey, Professor of Botany at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, named two algae species after her: Dasya feredayae and Nemastoma feredayae, a unique red algae. Harvey was passionate about phycology and was one of the Feredays’ frequent visitors.
Susan exhibited her exquisite botanical watercolour paintings of local native plants and algae in the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866-1867.
In 1871, the Reverend had a fatal riding accident. Several years later, Susan moved to Sale, Victoria, to be close to her daughter and son-in-law. She died on 21 October 1878.
Examples of her artwork:
Source: Extracted from: Women of Flowers, by Leonie Norton (2009), National Library of Australia