"Sons of science": remembering John Gould's martyred collectors

Noonan, Patrick (2016) "Sons of science": remembering John Gould's martyred collectors. Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies, 21 (1). pp. 28-42.

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Abstract

The memorial to the Victorian naturalist-explorer John Gilbert (1812-45) in Saint James's Church, Sydney, bears the Latin inscription Dulce et decorum est pro scientia mori, which translates into English as "it is sweet and fitting to die for science." Gilbert was killed in 1845 during a night attack by Aboriginal people on members of the first Leichhardt Expedition at a remote camp in Western Cape York. He was the only salaried collector in Australia for the nineteenth-century English ornithologist and publisher, John Gould. Two of Gould's other primary collectors, Johnston Drummond (1820-45) and Frederick Strange (1810-54), were also "martyred" to science (Angus 5) while on collecting activities for Gould.

This article examines the contemporary and later historical remembrance of the lives and achievements of these three "men of science" (Barton 73). Using an historical and contextual approach, I consider the factors that shaped the construction and commemoration of their historical legacies in both textual and material forms. While there were similarities in the manner of their deaths there are clear differences in how their personal and scientific reputations have been remembered and recounted. I contend that the subsequent scientific and historical status of each individual was determined by a range of factors, the most significant being the different ways in which their legacies were championed by others after their deaths.

Item ID: 44719
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1327-8746
Keywords: natural history collecting, John Gould, scientific networks, Australian exploration, John Gilbert, Frederick Strange, Johnston Drummond, history of science
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Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2016 02:24
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History @ 20%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 80%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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