Browse Entries

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Biographical entry

  • Trove


  • The Study of Australian Eucalypts

Biographical entry Drummond, James (c. 1786 - 1863)

c. 1786
Inverarity, Scotland
27 March 1863
Toodyay, Western Australia, Australia
Botanist and Naturalist


James Drummond was an avid botanist and plant collector. He was curator at Ireland's Cork Botanical Gardens from 1808, before migrating to Australia in 1829. Drummond worked as the Western Australian Government's naturalist. He was also appointed superintendent of the government gardens. He went on numerous expeditions across Western Australia where he collected thousands of seeds and plants for export to England. Today his plant specimens are found in herbaria across the world. He named several of Western Australia's native species and 119 specimens have been names after him. His father Thomas Drummond, was a gardener on the Fotheringham estate at Inverarity.


Prior to arriving in Australia, James Drummond was curator of the Cork Botanical Gardens, an associate of the Linnean Society and had published several papers on Irish plants. In 1829 he, together with his wife and six children, accompanied Captain Stirling to Western Australia on the ship Parmelia. Drummond was appointed Government Naturalist, but worked more in the role of botanist. The position was without pay. He was also appointed superintendent of the government gardens, and received a salary of £100. From 1835, Drummond began collection plant specimens and seeds to export to England. Hundreds of new species were named from his collections. These expeditions lead him to travel much of Western Australia's southern lands. Together with his sons, especially Johnston, and other botanists (including John Gilbert) he collected over 3500 specimens. Drummond also discovered that some local plants were in fact poisonous to livestock resulting in large stock losses.

In July 1845 Drummond's son Johnston was killed during an expedition at Moore River. This caused James Drummond to give up collecting. However 15 months later he was awarded an honorarium from the Queen's Bounty for his services to botany. This inspired Drummond to begin collecting again until 1855 when he was too old to continue.

post-ADB contributions made by Mr Charles Nelson


Life event - Baptised on 8 January 1787
1808 -
Career position - Curator of the Cork Botanical Gardens, Ireland
Career position - Associate of the Linnean Society
Life event - Arrived in Australia (Western Australia) on the Parmelia
August 1839
Career position - Expedition for 1st collection at Rottnest Island
Career position - Expedition for 2nd collection at Albany and Cape Riche
1841 - 1844
Career position - Pioneered the Victorian Plains
Taxonomy event - Collector of the type Eucalyptus macrocarpa Hook.
Career position - Expedition for 3rd collection at Sterling Ranges and Albany
Award - Queen's Bounty Honorarium awarded for services rendered to botanical science
1846 - 1847
Career position - Expedition for 4th collection at Sterling Ranges, Cape Riche, Salt River and West Mount Barren
Taxonomy event - Collector of the type Eucalyptus goniantha Turcz.
1847 - 1848
Career position - Expedition for 5th collection at Mount Caroline and Albany
1850 - 1851
Career position - Expedition for 6th collection at Champion Bay
Taxonomy event - Collector of the type Eucalyptus erythronema Turcz.
Taxonomy event - Honoured with Eucalyptus drummondii Benth. Drummond collected the type
Taxonomy event - Collector of the type Eucalyptus leptopoda Benth.

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Australian Botanists - Biographies, MS 064; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia

  • James Drummond - Records, 1840 - 1860, LBWA/3; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details
  • James Drummond - Records, 1946 - 1960, ACC 2275A; JS Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia. Details

Royal Western Australian Historical Society

  • James Drummond - Records, 1784 - 1863; Royal Western Australian Historical Society. Details

Western Australia Herbarium

  • James Drummond - Records, 1839 - 1848, 58.007(941) Dru; Western Australia Herbarium. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Book Sections

  • Erickson, Rica, 'Drummond, James (1784-1863), botanist and plant collector' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Douglas Pike, ed., vol. 1 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1966), pp. 325-326. Details
  • Fisher, Clemency Thorne, 'James Drummond, bap.1787-1863' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Details
  • Marchant, N. G., 'The impact of James Drummond on Western Australian botany' in The Drummond Symposium: a review of the work of James Drummond, the first Government Botanist in Western Australia, Davies, S. J. J. F, ed. (Perth: Department Environmental Biology, Curtin University of Technology, 2005), pp. 15-26. Details

Edited Books

  • Brooker, Leslie ed., Explorers Routes Revisited: Moore Expeditions 1836; Drummond Expeditions 1841-1842 (Kalamunda, W.A.: Carlisle, W.A.: Lesley Brooker; Hesperian Press, 2012), 67 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Gibson, Neil and Butcher, Ryonen, '"There are Greater Things in Life Than Cricket": Tetratheca aphylla (Elaeocarpaceae), James Drummond and the Exploration of the Helena and Aurora Range', Nuytsia, 23 (2013), 95-9. Details
  • Nelson, E. Charles, 'James and Thomas Drummond: their Scottish origins and curatorships in Irish botanic gardens (ca 1808­ca 1831)', Archives of Natural History, 17 (1) (1990), 49-65. Details
  • Perry, D. H., 'In the Footsteps of James Drummond with Charles Austin Gardner', Western Australian Naturalist, 11 (8) (1971), 178-180. Details
  • Sherwood, B. R., 'James Drummond of the Swan River Colony', The Linnean, 26 (3) (2010), 19-26. Details



  • Brooker, Leslie, ed., Explorers Routes Revisited: Moore Expeditions 1836; Drummond Expeditions 1841-1842 (2012)
    Olde, Peter, 'Retracing some of the expeditions by Moore and Drummond in south-west Western Australia', Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter, 161, (2014), 54-7. Details

See also

  • Hall, Norman, Botanists of the Eucalypts: short biographies of people who have named eucalypts, whose names have been given to species or who have collected type material (Melbourne: CSIRO, 1978), 101 pp. Details
  • Henderson, M. Helen and Henderson, William G., The greater prize than gold: Augustus Oldfield, nineteenth century botanical collector and ethnographer (Perth, W.A.: The Book Reality Experience, 2018), 520 pp. Details

Annette Alafaci