John Whitehead (explorer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Portrait at age 32 from Country Life

John Whitehead (30 June 1860 – 2 June 1899) was an English explorer, naturalist and professional collector of natural history specimens in Southeast Asia. He was the first European to reach the highest point on Mount Kinabalu: this was in 1888, after annual attempts from 1885.[1]

Whitehead was born in Colney Hatch Lane, Muswell Hill, Middlesex to Jeffery Whitehead, a stockbroker, and his wife Jane Ashton Tinker. After education at Elstree, Hertfordshire and the Edinburgh Institution he faced health problems and was sent to recuperate to Engadine in Switzerland in 1881 and then to warm Corsica in 1882 where he discovered a bird new to science, the Corsican nuthatch.[2]

Whitehead travelled in Malacca, North Borneo, Java, and Palawan between 1885 and 1888, where he collected a number of zoological specimens new to science, including 45 new species of bird such as Whitehead's broadbill (Calyptomena whiteheadi), writing up his experiences in a book on his return.[3][4][5] Between 1893 and 1896 he explored in the Philippines, again collecting many new species, including the Philippine eagle, the binomial name of which commemorates Whitehead's father Jeffery, who funded his expeditions.[6]

Several species are named after Whitehead:[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Whitehead intended to return to the Philippines in 1899, but was he was forced to alter his plans because of the Spanish–American War. He instead travelled to the island of Hainan, where he died of fever at port of Hoihow (Haikou).[15]


  1. ^ Jenkins, D.V. (1996). The first Hundred Years, A short account of the expeditions to Mt Kinabalu 1851-1950 [Chapter 4 of Kinabalu Summit of Borneo, Sabah Society/Sabah Parks, Ed.2, 1996].
  2. ^ Woodward, B.B. (revised by V.M. Quirke) (2004). "Whitehead, John (1860–1899)". In Quirke, V. M (ed.). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29292. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo (1893)
  4. ^ "Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo". Nature. 48 (1250): 564. 1893. Bibcode:1893Natur..48Q.564.. doi:10.1038/048564a0. hdl:2027/mdp.39015068277535. ISSN 0028-0836. S2CID 4050427.
  5. ^ Smythies, B.E. (1964-11-17). "The birds of Mt Kinabalu and their zoogeographical relationships". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences. 161 (982): 75–80. Bibcode:1964RSPSB.161...75S. doi:10.1098/rspb.1964.0079. ISSN 0080-4649. S2CID 84759931.
  6. ^ Sith-Smith, D. (2008-06-28). "XI.-On the Monkey-eating Eagle of the Philippines (Pithecophaga jefferyi)". Ibis. 52 (2): 285–290. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1910.tb07905.x.
  7. ^ Smith, H. Grose (1889). "XXXVI.— Descriptions of ten more new species of butterflies captured by Mr. John Whitehead at Kina Balu Mountain, North Borneo". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 3 (16): 312–319. doi:10.1080/00222938909460340. ISSN 0374-5481.
  8. ^ Sharfe, R. Bowdler (1887). "Notes on a Collection of Birds made by Mr. John Whitehead on the Mountain of Kina Balu, in Northern Borneo, with Descriptions of new Species". Ibis. 29 (4): 435–454. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1887.tb06626.x.
  9. ^ Shelford, R. (1901). "A List of the Reptiles of Borneo". Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (35): 43–68. ISSN 2304-7534. JSTOR 41560956.
  10. ^ Boulenger, G.A. (1887). "VIII.— On new Reptiles and Batrachians from North Borneo". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 20 (116): 95–97. doi:10.1080/00222938709460016. ISSN 0374-5481.
  11. ^ Distant, W.L. (1889). "XLIX.— Descriptions of new species of Rhynchota collected on or near the Kina Balu Mountain, North Borneo". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 3 (17): 419–422. doi:10.1080/00222938909460359. ISSN 0374-5481.
  12. ^ Sharpe, R. Bowdler (1888). "Further Descriptions of new Species of Birds discovered by Mr. John Whitehead on the Mount of Kina Balu, Northern Borneo". Ibis. 30 (4): 383–396. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1888.tb08495.x.
  13. ^ Smith, Edgar A. (1887). "XV.— Descriptions of some new species of land-shells from Sumatra, Java, and Borneo". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 20 (116): 130–133. doi:10.1080/00222938709460023. ISSN 0374-5481.
  14. ^ Kirby, W.F. (1900). "LXX.— On a small collection of Odonata (dragonflies) from Hainan, collected by the late John Whitehead". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 5 (30): 530–539. doi:10.1080/00222930008678327. ISSN 0374-5481.
  15. ^ "[Death of John Whitehead]". Ibis. 7. 5: 642. 1899.