Thomas Frederic Cheeseman
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Thomas Frederick Cheeseman (1846 – 15 October 1923) was a New Zealand botanist. He was also a naturalist who had wide-ranging interests, such that he even described a few species of sea slugs, marine gastropod molluscs.
Cheeseman was born at Hull, in Yorkshire on 8 June 1846. Thomas came to New Zealand at the age of eight with his parents on "Artemesia", arriving in Auckland on 4 April 1854. He was educated at Parnell Grammar School and then at St John's College, Auckland. His father, the Rev. Thomas Cheeseman had been a member of the old Auckland Provincial Council.
In 1874 he was appointed Secretary of the Auckland Institute and Curator of the (at the time only fairly recently founded) Auckland Museum. Under his curatorship, the museum collections were formed. His botanical studies were valuable not just academically, but also were of importance to agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. He published papers almost every year until his death.
When Cheeseman's research began, the botany of New Zealand was quite poorly known. Cheeseman made many collecting trips including areas such as the Nelson Provincial District, the Kermadec and Three Kings Islands, and the area from Mangonui to the far north. He sometimes traveled with his friend Mr. J. Adams, of the Thames High School, after whom he named the species Senecio adamsii and Elytranthe adamsii.
Hundreds of birds added to Auckland Museum's collections by Cheeseman were shot by his younger brother, William Joseph, and their labels bear the tag "W.J.C." The museum could not afford a taxidermist, but Cheeseman's sister Emma learnt the skill and prepared many of the specimens. Her initials "E.C." appear.on the backs of many labels.
Many of Cheeseman's botanical publications paved the way for a complete flora of New Zealand. In 1906 he produced the Manual of the New Zealand Flora. In 1914 he, Hemsley and Matilda Smith created Illustrations of the New Zealand Flora (1914). Some of his publications were speculative in character, about the possible origins of the New Zealand sub-Antarctic flora. He also had written an early paper on the naturalized plants of the Auckland Provincial District. Some of his early papers were about the pollination of certain species.
As well as his botanical research, Cheeseman developed the Auckland Museum, including what is probably the most extensive collection extant, illustrating Maori ethnology. He donated his own herbarium of the flowering plants and vascular cryptogams to the Auckland Institute.
- Cheeseman T. F. 1878. Descriptions of three new Species of Opisthobranchiate Mollusca, from New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, volume 11, page 378-380, plate XVI.
- Cheeseman T. F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand flora. 1199 pp.
- Cheeseman T. F, Hemsley W. B. & Smith M. 1914. Illustrations of the New Zealand Flora. volume 1, volume 2.
Cheeseman was a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and the Zoological Society. He was made a Corresponding Membership of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, and awarded the Gold Linnean Medal of the Linnean Society the botanical equivalent to a Nobel Medal. The New Zealand Institute elected him President in 1911. In 1918 he was awarded the Hector Memorial Medal and Prize for his botanical researches. In 1919 he was made an original Fellow of the New Zealand Institute.
This article incorporates public domain text from reference.
- Cockayne L. 1923. Thomas Frederic Cheeseman, 1846–1923. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, volume 54, page xvii-xix.
- Gill, Brian (2012). The owl that fell from the sky: stories of a museum curator. Awa Press. pp. 57–63. ISBN 978-1-877551-13-0.
- Gill, p 61
- P Grant-Taylor, descendant of Cheeseman
- World Register of Marine Species: Marine taxa named by Cheeseman
- World Register of Marine Species: Marine taxa named after Cheeseman
- IPNI. Cheeseman.
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Thomas Frederic Cheeseman