I wrote about Jessie Hussey in the articles titled Jessie Hussey’s contribution to the knowledge of SA’s marine flora and Mike Moore’s “butterfly of the month”, followed by Lisa Waters talk about amateur botanist Jessie Louisa Hussey (1862-1899).

Jessie Louisa Hussey was an amateur botanist from Port Elliot. She was born on 5th June 1862 (at either Goolwa or Port Elliot). She was one of Henry & Harriet Hussey’s nine children. They lived at Goolwa in the early 1850s until the family moved to Port Elliot in 1880.

During the 1890s, Jessie made a significant contribution to the knowledge of South Australian vascular plants and marine algae. She collected many algal specimens and Jacob Agardh identified these for Ferdinand von Mueller. Both men named some of her specimens after her.

According to “Curiosities of South Australia 3” (mlssa No.1078), Jessie gave an address to the Field Naturalists’ Section of the Royal Society of SA when she was 35 years old. She was a member of the Field Nats and she was totally deaf at the time. She had apparently been deaf for some years. She was an honorary member of the Mueller Botanic Society, WA.

She died in Port Elliot at the age of 37 on 16th March 1899, after becoming ill following the deaths of both Ferdinand von Mueller (Oct 1896) and her father Henry (Jan 1899).

I was quite surprised to stumble upon this plaque in memory of Jessie at Port Elliot this month: –

It apparently located at a bench seat called the “CWA Memorial Seat” which was installed there in 1992 (see further below).

Located on Basham’s Parade at Horseshoe Bay, it is dedicated to Jessie.

A street behind Horseshoe Bay is named after the Hussey Family.

According to the web page found at http://know.ourplants.org/news/jessey-hussey-inspires-school-teachers/, she made a “significant and pioneering contribution to the knowledge of South Australia’s terrestrial and marine flora during the 1890s. She became a respected collaborator of many leading national and international botanists and phycologists”.

According to the web page found at http://www.cpbr.gov.au/biography/hussey-jessie.html, Jessie Hussey was recruited by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller in 1893 to collect marine algae specimens in the Encounter Bay area. She sent large numbers of algae (and plants to both Mueller and Swedish botanist Jacob Agardh. When she died in 1899, about 2000 of her specimens were deposited in the South Australian Museum.

According to the web page found at http://www.cpbr.gov.au/biography/mueller-ferdinand.html, Ferdinand von Mueller was Victorian Government Botanist from 1853 and his botanical publications are very extensive. He was knighted by Queen Victoria.

According to the web page found at http://www.cpbr.gov.au/biography/agardh-jacob-georg.html, Jacob Georg Agardh was a botanist, phycologist and taxonomist. From 1854 until 1879 he was professor of botany at Lund University. He identified many algal specimens for Ferdinand Mueller and his collectors.

Lisa Waters has written a biography of Jessie, including illustrations based on Jessie’s work. Several references to Lisa’s work can be found further below. Also, visit “Art about Jessie L. Hussey” by Lisa at https://know.ourplants.org/news/art-about-jessie-l-hussey/

You can read Jessie’s biography at https://www.anbg.gov.au/biography/hussey-jessie.html 

The following details were sourced from http://www.portelliot.org.au/Hussey_Jessie.pdf


By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

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