Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born at Lewisham, Kent, England, on 10 September 1840, emigrated to Australia, departing from Southampton, England, on 14 April 1853 with his mother and stepfather on the Elizabeth, arriving at Melbourne, Vic, on 18 July 1853; died at Kooyong Road, Malvern (Melbourne), Vic, on 21 May 1933.
After the death of his father John French, his mother Eleanor French [née Tucker] married John Weatherill and the family emigrated to Victoria, arriving in 1853 and settling in Cheltenham.
In 1859, Charles snr was first apprenticed to James Scott, a Hawthorn nurseryman. He then worked in the nurseries of Alex Bogie and Joseph Harris, both of South Yarra (Melbourne).
He was appointed to the nursery and gardening staff in 1865 under Baron Ferdinand von Mueller at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.
He took up residence in the Gardens at Anderson Street after his marriage to Janet Callander on 23 May 1867.
In 1873, in recognition of his work and expertise, he was appointed in charge of plant propagation and glass houses and, in 1881 was transferred to the National Herbarium (then called the Phytologic Museum of Melbourne) all under Mueller's charge.
Then for many years he was Government Entomologist.
He travelled all over Victoria, making ferns and orchids his chief interest. After Bentham's treatment of Orchidaceae in Flora Australiensis (Vol. VI, 1873), it was Mr. French who first brought together a description of every species then known to occur within the Colony - published in 11 parts of the Victorian Naturalist (1884-87) under the title Victorian Orchids. The information was incorporated the next year in Mueller's Key to the System of Victorian Plants (1888) wherein 78 species are recognized.
Prasophyllum frenchii F.Muell.
Oligochaetochilus frenchii D.L.Jones
Source: Extracted from: 'Passions in Ornithology: A century of Australian Egg Collectors' (2020), Mason & Pfitzner, Canberra. [Consult for source refernces]
Willis, J.H. (1949) Botanical pioneers in Victoria-II. Victorian Naturalist 66:103-109
Portrait Photo: Vic. Nat. (1933) 50:53
Data from 72 specimens in MEL during his lifetime