S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Paterson, Mrs Florence Mary (plant collection, invertebrate collection, fossil collection)

Born: 15 July 1869, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Died: 5 June 1936, Redhouse, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Florence Mary Paterson (born Hallack) was the youngest of the nine children of Russell Hallack* and his wife Sarah, born Geard. With the encouragement of her father she developed an interest in natural history, particularly in plants, which she retained after her marriage in 1895 to Thomas Vernon Paterson of Redhouse (just north of Port Elizabeth). (After her marriage she was sometimes referred to by her husband's initials as "Mrs T.V. Paterson"). For a number of years she systematically collected plants in the neighbourhood of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, but also in other parts of South Africa which she visited. Most of her specimens were sent to Dr S. Schonland*, director of the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. The first large batch was presented in 1908, followed by over 500 specimens the next year, including some undescribed species. All her specimens were in good condition and formed a valuable addition to the museum's herbarium. Her donations in 1910 included plants from Port Alfred, Steytlerville and Cape Town, and in 1912 from Hanover, Uniondale, Natal and the Transvaal. In addition to dried plants she presented live specimens of Augea capensis ("Bobbejaankos", Family Zygophyllaceae) in 1912, which formed the basis of a memoir by Schonland in the Botanische Jahrbuecher in 1914. Schonland later used many of her specimens to compile his memoir, The flora of the Divisions of Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth (1919) and acknowledged her assistance. Some specimens of orchids went to Harry Bolus*, who acknowledged their receipt in Volume 3 of his Icones orchidearum Austro-Africanarum... (1913). Schonland named the genus Neopatersonia (Fam. Liliaceae) after her in 1912. Her specimens remain in the herbarium of Albany Museum and the Bolus Herbarium of the University of Cape Town.

Mrs Paterson also collected other natural history specimens for the Albany Museum, for example insects and trap-door spiders from the Port Elizabeth area (1912). Also a large number of well-preserved fossil shells from Redhouse (1911, 1912) which were described by R.B. Newton* in Records of the Albany Museum (1913). Most of the shells were from the Alexandria Formation (of Miocene and later age) and included several new species. Others were from the Cretaceous beds and included species new to the museum's collections. The marine shell Melapium patersonae (since renamed) was named after her.

List of sources:
Barnard, K.H. Personal names in South African conchology. Cape Town: Conchological Society of Southern Africa, 1965.

Bolus, H. Icones Orchidearum Austro-Africanum Extra-Tropicum; or, figures with descriptions of extra-tropical South African orchids (Vol. 3, Preface). London: W. Wesley, 1913.

Cape of Good Hope. Report on the Albany Museum, 1908-1913.

Florence Mary Paterson (born Hallack). My Heritage. Retrieved from https://www.myheritage.com/names/florence_paterson on 2019-1-8.

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

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Paterson, Florence Mary.

Phillips, E.P. A brief historical sketch of the development of botanical science in South Africa and the contribution of South Africa to botany. South African Journal of Science, 1930, Vol. 27, pp. 39-80.

Compiled by: C. Plug