Charles James Busk, merchant and amateur photographer, corresponded with Sir Joseph Hooker from North Wales in October 1851, enquiring about a Red Ebony specimen in the Cape of Good Hope Collection in the Great Exhibition held in London that year. However, from 1849 he had been in business in the Cape Colony, from 1856 in association with Edward J. Jerram, Joseph Busk and Charles R. Eaton. In 1864 he accepted an appointment as commissioner to inquire into the law of inheritance and around 1868 was a member of the Legislative Council for the Western District. He remained active in the Colony until 1882. He was married to Elizabeth Busk, with whom he had at least one surviving son.
During the eighteen-sixties Busk became one of the earliest stone artefact collectors in South Africa, in association with Langham Dale* and George McKay*. In 1867 he sent artifacts that he had collected on the Cape Flats to his brother, George Busk, in Britain. George (whose own field of expertise was the microscopic study of invertebrates) exhibited the finds, plus others received from Dale in 1868, at the International Congress of Prehistoric Archaeology held at Norwich that year. His descriptions of the artefacts were published in 1869 in a paper, "Stone antiquities found in Africa", in the Transactions of the Congress. The same Busk/Dale collection was also described by Sir John Lubbock in a paper "On a collection of stone implements from the Cape of Good Hope", in the Proceedings of the Anthropological and Ethnological Society of London (1869, Vol. 1, p. 51). Some of Charles's artefacts, with those of Dale, were later presented to the Christy Collection of the British Museum. They were among the first to be sent to Britain from South Africa, as well as among the first to enter the British Museum's collections.
Charles James Busk is probably the same person as Charles J. Busk of London who published 'To find the factors of any proposed number' [and so identify prime numbers] in the journal Nature in 1889.