Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Rev Henry Dresser Atkinson snr: born at Selby, North Yorkshire, England, on 13 May 1841; emigrated to Australia, departing from London, England on 2 May 1868 on the SS Somersetshire as an unassisted passenger, arriving at Melbourne, Vic, on 4 July 1868, and then sailed on to Hobart on the Southern Cross; died at ‘Brookside’, Augusta Road, Hobart, Tas, on 25 June 1921.
As a child he joined the field-naturalists and geological clubs, dug in archaeological sites where he found Roman coins and learned about and observed Gothic architecture.
He graduated from Drax Grammar School and following the family tradition in 1860 was educated at Magdalen College, Cambridge but after the death of his father on 22 December 1863, Henry snr left Cambridge and continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin University. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1864 and his first appointment after graduation was as mathematical master at Cheltenham, and he was ordained a priest in 1865 at Worcester.
His ecclesiastical career was interrupted after he contracted cholera, which swept England in 1867. and for heath reasons he arranged to go on a long sea voyage with his brother Edward. They departed on the SS Somersetshire in May 1868 bound for Melbourne supposedy for eight months recuperation there, but instead sailed on to Hobart with the Southern Cross. and there they settled.
The Diocese of Tasmania appointed Henry snr to the Channel mission for nine years and here he met Sarah Ann Ward, whom he married at Hobart on 11 December 1870 going on to father eight children with her.
Henry snr was transferred in 1877 to the parish at Stanley in the northwest, remaining until 1890. He was then appointed rural dean of Evandale for some 20 years.
In 1910 he retired to Hobart, where he wrote of many of his natural history experiences, published in the Church Messenger and Chunch News.
He died at 'Brookside', Augusta Road, Hobart on 25 June 1921.
He was also a great friend of Truganini, often described as the last full-blood Tasmanian Aboriginal.
Henry snr took an interest in the flora of Circular Head in northwet Tasmania and in forest conservation, unsuccessfully attempting to have proclaimed reserves for the rarer plants, such as the Slender Tree-Fern Cyathea cunninghamii.
Only 14 of his Tasmanian collections are recorded in AVH in 2021.
Source: Extracted from: 'Passions in Ornithology: A century of Australian Egg Collectors' (2020), Mason & Pfitzner, Canberra.
Portrait Photo: Extracted from: above.