S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Bachmann, Dr Franz Ewald Theodor (botany)

Born: 21 July 1856, Germany.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Franz Ewald Teodor Bachmann was a German medical practitioner and naturalist. He studied in Breslau and in Wuerzburg, where he obtained the degree Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1883. In July that same year he arrived at the Cape in the company of the apothecary Friedrich Wilms*. He practised medicine in the Western Cape to 1887, for two years each in Darling and in Hopefield, and during these years collected over 2000 specimens of plants in the Malmesbury-Clanwilliam area.

In November 1887 Bachmann went to Natal and spent about a year in Pondoland (the northern and central coastal regions of the Transkei, between the Mtamvuna and Mtata Rivers) as a representative of the Berlinische Pondo Gesellschaft. He had been employed to report on the suitability of the land for starting a German agricultural settlement, but the project was not carried out. He first travelled from Durban via Pietermaritzburg to Clydesdale Mission, and via Marburg Mission to Port Shepstone and by ship to Durban. On his second journey, starting in January 1888, he and the engineer Conrad Beyrich* (also a representative of the Berlinische Pondo Gesellschaft) set out to explore Pondoland, starting from Marburg Mission. They visited, among others, present Lusikisiki, Port St Johns, Port Grosvenor, and Msikaba. Bachmann returned to Durban in October 1888 and left for Germany, having collected some 1700 specimens, mainly flowering plants, but including small numbers of lichens, fungi, mosses, and other natural history items. For example, he and Beyrich were the first travellers definitely known to have collected land snails in the Transkei. The fungi Bachmann collected were sent to Berlin and were described by Paul Henning in three publications during the early eighteen-nineties.

Bachmann was registered as a medical practitioner at the Cape in August 1883, but under the wrong name: he is listed as Franz C. Backmann of Malmesbury in 1885, and as Franz Ewald Backmann of Ladysmith, Natal, in 1893. Nothing is known about his stay in Natal at this later time. In 1901 he published a book on his visit, entitled Sued-Afrika: Reisen, Erlebnisse und Beobachtungen waehrend eines sechsjaehrigen Aufenthaltes in der Kapkolonie, Natal und Pondoland, but it contains little about his scientific pursuits. The title of the book confirms that he returned to Europe in 1889. The monotypic genus Bachmannia (of the Caper family Capparidaceae), which is endemic in South Africa, was named in his honour, as were the species Leonotis bachmannii, Struthiola bachmanni and Kniphofia bachmanni. After his return to Europe Bachmann published some works on the causes of disease: Was ist Krankheit?... (1892, 116p) - an attempt to scientifically ground methods of healing; Reformgedanken auf biologischer Grundlage (1906, 76p); and Neugalenismus, eine auf biologischen Anschauungen aufgebaute Krankheitslehre (1907, 23p). He was still living in Germany in 1916.

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope Government Gazette, 9 January 1885, p. 41-44: List of medical practitioners.

Doidge, E.M. The South African fungi and lichens to the end of 1945. Bothalia, 1950, Vol. 5, pp. 1-1094 (see p. 37).

Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schrifttums (GV), 1700-1910. Muenchen: K.G. Saur, 1979-1987.

Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

Herbert, D. & Kilburn, D. Field guide to the land snails and slugs of eastern South Africa. Pietermaritzburg: Natal Museum, 2004.

Macquarrie, J.W. (Ed.) The reminiscences of Sir Walter Stanford (Vol. 2, p. 111-113). Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society, 1962 (VRS Vol. 43).

Medical and Pharmacy Register for the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town, 1893.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Document relating to Dr F. Bachmann.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page Search for Franz Ewald Teodor Bachmann.

Compiled by: C. Plug