Georgiana Molloy

Georgiana Molloy (1805 – 1843) amateur botanist
Georgiana Molloy, an early pioneer and botanist, had a great love for the beauty of the Australian countryside. Georgiana was born in 1805 in Cumberland, England. As a young girl, she was very devout and active in the Presbyterian Church, teaching Sunday School and helping wherever she could.

Georgiana Molloy, an early pioneer and botanist, had a great love for the beauty of the Australian countryside. Georgiana was born in 1805 in Cumberland, England. As a young girl, she was very devout and active in the Presbyterian Church, teaching Sunday School and helping wherever she could.

When she was twenty-four years old, she married Captain John Molloy, a retired veteran of Waterloo. In 1829, they emigrated to Western Australia, with their servants, horses, pigs, sheep and cattle. Her husband had promised Georgiana the life of an English gentlewoman, but when they arrived they found the best pasture land had been taken up, so they settled at Augusta.

A week after they arrived, Georgiana gave birth to her first baby while she lay in a leaking tent in the rain, with only a servant holding an umbrella over her. The child died in her arms soon afterwards, but she turned to God for comfort. Later, she lost a 19-month-old boy who fell in the well and was drowned. Her life revolved around never-ending chores and family.

Domestic help was hard to find, and she missed her women friends. There were few diversions–sometimes a visit from a government official or a threat from hostile Aborigines. Her husband was often away on business, but she carried on with a cheerful spirit, as evidenced in the following letter to a friend.

What goes to my heart is that dear Molloy has so much exertion bodily and mentally but I am repaid with interest when any part I perform eases his task. The Lord is good and has shown Himself to us in many wonderful instances.

Georgiana grew to love the strange Australian countryside, found the climate to be “heavenly”, and the wildflowers and birds “minutely beautiful”. In 1836, she received a letter from Captain John Mangles, a retired English naval captain and cousin of Lady Stirling, requesting that she send him specimens of native plants that he could grow in his garden for scientific research purposes. Mrs Molloy took the request very seriously. She collected, labelled and packaged the corresponding seeds together with as much data as she could obtain from either her own research or from the Aborigines. With the bags of seeds, she sent annotated albums of carefully pressed flowers to Mangles.

For the next seven years, she continued in this work, which became her hobby and her passion, as well as enjoyment for the whole of her family. With sharp eyes for details, her children often discovered minute samples she may have missed. Her husband and soldiers also brought her new plants from their travels, while the Aborigines gave her medicinal plants.

All these she carefully documented. She became known as the “Madonna of the Bush”, and the leading botanist throughout Western Australia. However, Mrs Molloy never received proper acknowledgment of her great contribution to scientific research. Her work was published in 1839, in a book entitled A Sketch of the Vegetation of the Swan River Colony, by Professor Lindley, of London University’s Botany Department, as part of Edward’s classic Botanical Register series.

Based on the materials sent to Captain Mangles, this series contained no acknowledgment of Mrs Molloy’s work. However, upon news of her death in 1843, following the birth of her seventh child, an eminent horticulturist, George Hailes of Newcastle, in a letter to Mangles, wrote: “Not one in ten thousand who go to distant lands has done what she did for the gardens of her native country”.

What had seemed like a wilderness to many, had become “the Garden of Eden” to Mrs Molloy. To the end, she sang a hymn of praise to God for all the beauty she had discovered in the Western Australian bush. The tall, scented Boronia molloyae was named after her.

Source : http://www.chr.org.au/fpbooks/SL/slhs11.html
also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgiana_Molloy
http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A020210b.htm

Above Image – From front cover of book Georgiana Molloy: A Portrait With Background
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