Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born at Maidstone, Kent, England, baptised on 13 August 1837; emigrated to Australia, departing from London, England on 24 April 1858 on the Lincolnshire as an unassisted passenger, arriving at Melbourne, Vic, on 5 July 1858; died at Elizabeth Bay (Sydney), NSW, on 23 June 1912.
He began his early career as a gardener in England, presumed to have emigrated to Melbourne in 1858 where he was employed by Dr Godfrey Howitt (a botanist and entomologist with a medical practice at Colins Street, Melbourne) for a few years.
After moving to Sydney he continued as a nurseryman at Shepherd's Darling Nursery c. 1860.
A naturalist at heart (specialising in entomology), George began collecting insects during a visit to Tasmania while living in Melbourne and later sold them to Sir Willam J. Macleay, who subsequently sent George to Port Denison, Qld to collect insects on his behalf in 1862.
George was then engaged as assistant curator and collector at the Australian Museum (AM), Sydney, on 2 June 1864 for the annual sum of 200 pounds. This was on the condiion that he discontinued and sold his private collection, a directive he blatantly ignored, as he not only increased his own collection but also continued to collect for Macleay.
During the next decade George actively collected on behalf of the Museum in many locations.
The privately-run Macleay family collection had grown to such an extent that George Masters was appointed as Curator on 6 February 1874 by Macleay. It was said that he was lured from his previous employment by an additional offer of 100 pounds to supplement his annual salary. Before his departure, he and Macleay gave evidence to the Legislative Assembly Select Committee enquiring into the AM, Sydney. They testfied against the then curator, Johann L.G. Krefft, who was ultimately dismissed in 1874.
The Macleay collections were later presented to the newly built Macleay Museum at The University of Sydney in 1889 just before Macleay's death in 1891, with the prerequisite that George was to continue curating the material. George continued to do so until his death on 23 June 1912.
George was a foundation member of the Natural History Association of NSW in 1887. The association was later renamed the Field Naturalists Society of New South Wales in 1890. He was also elected to its council and was an original member of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, elected in 1874.
Source: Extracted from book: 'Passions in Ornithology: A century of Australian Egg Collectors' (2020), Mason & Pfitzner, Canberra. [consult for source references]
Portrait Photo: NLA (nla,pic-va-3793333-v) extracted from above book.