Paterson (Patersonia; patersonii)
Colonel William Paterson (1755–1810) was the first Lieutenant Governor of NSW (1794–5) and again (1806–1808).

He was a Scottish military officer, who was also an explorer and keen amateur botanist and sent regular plant specimens, seeds and geographic reports to Joseph Banks from South Africa, India, and Norfolk Island.

On coming to NSW, Paterson kept Banks informed of the survival of crops in the new colony as well as collecting species of plants. While on sick leave in England in 1798 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society by Banks for his 20 years of natural history endeavours. A plant species in South Africa named for Paterson is the orange, globe-headed member of the Proteaceae family, Leucospermum patersonii, and the mauve-flowered, Norfolk Island Hibiscus, Lagunaria patersonia.

Paterson returned to NSW in 1801 and provided the ‘Flinders expedition’ botanist, Robert Brown, with supplies and horses while collecting in the Hawkesbury River area of NSW and later in Tasmania. Brown honoured Paterson by naming the genus of indigenous strap-leaved, iris-like lilies, Patersonia, in 1807. Brown also applied the epithet patersonii to the Twining Fringe-lily, Thysanotus, (Greek, meaning ‘twining’) in his Podromus Florea Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen (1810). This was a posthumous tribute to Paterson, who died at sea at the age of 54, on his return journey to England, aboard the ship that had brought the new Governor, Lachlan Macquarie and his relief regiment, to Sydney.

Paterson had a colourful career but was not in good health, and was severely wounded in the shoulder in a duel with Captain John Macarthur, the man who became a powerful squatter and owner of flocks of Merino sheep. He also acted as a commanding military officer and on several occasions in NSW and Tasmania, gave orders of ‘retaliation’ to his troops that led to Aboriginal people being killed for raiding livestock and threatening colonists who had occupied their tribal lands beyond the colony’s declared boundaries of the time.

There are 20 species of Patersonia in Australia and between 50 to 100 species of Thysanotus throughout temperate Australia.

The locally found species bearing the Paterson name are:

Short Purple-flag Patersonia fragilis (Latin meaning=fragile or delicate)* see p148 for a full species description

shortpurpleflagShort Purple-flag

Long Purple-flag, Patersonia occidentalis (Latin meaning=western)*p148

tallpurpleflagLong Purple-flag

Twining Fringe Lily, Thysanotus patersonii (Greek meaning Thysanotos=fringed)* p150

twiningfringelilyTwining Fringe Lily

* Reference: M MacDonald (Ed.) 2009 Flowers of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, ANGAIR

Neville Millen

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