James Stuart (artist)

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James Stuart
Born c.1802
Died 26 May 1842
Lake Innes House, Port Macquarie, New South Wales
Nationality Irish
Known for Nature Illustrations

James Stuart (1802–26 May 1842) was an Irish official and naturalist in Australia. He was one of the first Quarantine Officers at Sydney's North Head Quarantine Station. William Sharp Macleay named which the brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) after him in 1841.


Born in Ireland c. 1802, Stuart arrived in Australia in June 1834 and wrote to his sister, Margaret "by the ship Jessie from Liverpool, which place we left in December 1833 and after encountering very stormy weather we were obliged to put into Falmouth. We left the latter place in February and after a fine passage we put into Talbot Bay at the beautiful Town of the Cape of Good Hope. From this we sailed to Hobart Town and thence to Sydney, nothing remarkable occurring on the passage except that we were sometimes in danger from the drunkenness and consequent incapacity of our Captain."[1]

He was a keen naturalist and artist and illustrated many species of bird, insect and fish during his era in Sydney and also during a period on Norfolk Island. Some 200 of his paintings are held by the New South Wales state Archives and by the Mitchell Library.

In his role of Colonial Assistant Surgeon, Stuart took charge of the sick who arrived at Sydney on board the emigrant ship Minerva on 24 January 1838. Of the 198 steerage passengers, 86 were attacked by typhus, 14 of whom died during the passage.[1]

James Stuart was a nephew of the Indian Army officer, Major-General Charles Stuart, better known as the "Hindoo Stuart" and grandson of Thomas Smyth (eldest son of Charles Smyth (1694–1783), MP for Limerick, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Prendergast, 1st Baronet).

One of his eight brothers was the diplomat Major Robert Stuart, and Robert Stuart King, the footballer and clergyman, was his great-nephew.

Stuart died suddenly on 26 May 1842 in New South Wales but two earlier bouts of typhus, presumably contracted from incoming disease-ridden ships, probably hastened his death.


  1. ^ a b Champion, Shelagh; & Champion, George. (1938). The Ship Minerva in quarantine, 1838.

Further reading[edit]

  • Musgrave, A. (1955). Dr James Stuart: Artist Naturalist. Erskenville, NSW.
  • Olsen, Penny. (2001). Feather and Brush: Three Centuries of Australian Bird Art. Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing. 240 pp (with numerous colour illustrations). ISBN 0-643-06547-4
  • Pearce, Barry. (1989). Australian Artists, Australian Birds. Angus & Robertson: Sydney. ISBN 0-207-16245-X