S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Harvey, Mr R (fossil collection)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Mr R. Harvey, "a young gentleman", sent some Dicynodon fossils found in the bed of the Brak River near Graaff-Reinet to the Literary, Scientific and Medical Society of Grahamstown in 1859. The finds were described at a meeting of the society by Burt J. Glanville*, and Harvey was made an honorary member of the society for his valuable contribution. The specimens were incorporated in the Albany Museum, Grahamstown, and described in its annual report as "a series of heads and jaws of Dicynodon lacerticeps, one head of Dicynodon testudiceps, and several ribs and other bones". The museum's report for 1876 includes a description of its fossil exhibits, including "fossils of D. lacerticeps (Owen), three crania, three metatarsal bones, vertebrae, ribs, and teeth, most of which were found at Brak River by Mr R. Harvey and by him presented to the Albany Museum". (The species was not new, having been named by Sir Richard Owen* in 1844 on the basis of a skull from the Winterberg.) His finds were again listed in the museum's Catalogue of the natural history collections... in 1883.

Harvey appears to have been still alive and active in 1895. At a meeting of the newly founded Geological Society of South Africa in April that year it was recorded that "Mr Harvey, the only living member of the first Geological Society ever formed in South Africa (the Grahamstown Society)... said it had done much good work in its day.... In the Museum at Grahamstown were several specimens that he thought might help to solve some of the palaeontological problems hinted at in the address [of the President]". This seems to be the same Harvey, but the "Grahamstown Society" was actually the Literary, Scientific and Medical Society, not the South African Geological Association (Grahamstown, 1888-1892). Among the members of the Geological Society at this time he is identified as R. John Harvey of Johannesburg. He served on the society's council in 1896 and 1897, but was no longer a member by 1899.

Presumably also the same person, R. Harvey, was listed as an "agent" in Johannesburg, in the General directory of South Africa for 1890/1.

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope. Catalogue of the natural history collections of the Albany Museum, Grahamstown (Appendix to Parliamentary Report G24-'83). Cape Town: W.A. Richards & Sons, 1883.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the committee of the Albany Museum, 1859, 1876.

General directory of South Africa, 1890/1.

Geological Society of South Africa. Transactions, 1896, Vol. 1, p. 10 and list of members; 1897, Vol. 2, office bearers.

South African Agricultural Register and Eastern Province Magazine, 2 June 1859, No. 34: Literary, Scientific and Medical Society.

Compiled by: C. Plug