Peter Good (17?? – 1803)

Seed and plant collector for Kew on HMS Investigator

b. Scotland, 17??; d. Sydney, New South Wales, 12 June 1803

After early experience in Scotland, Good worked as a foreman at the Royal Gardens at Kew, probably from about 1794.  In 1795 he was sent to India to accompany Christopher Smith and care for a consignment of plants being sent from Kew to the Calcutta Botanic Gardens.  While there, he set about collecting plants for the return trip and made a herbarium which survives.  Plants were duly delivered to Kew on 9 February 1796.  It seems that at least 14 Indian species were introduced into British gardens in this collection.

Good was working as a kitchen gardener at Wemyss Castle, Fife, Scotland, when Joseph Banks offered him the appointment as gardener to the botanist Robert Brown, at a salary of £105 a year, for the voyage of HMS Investigator under Captain Matthew Flinders to New Holland (1801–1805).  On the voyage much of the Australian coast was charted, and many landings were made to allow plant collecting.

Good made an extensive collection of seeds and living plants but the latter did not survive to reach England.  He also collected dried plant specimens but most of these were incorporated into Brown’s collections.

While the Investigator was at Timor, Good was one of several on board who contracted dysentery.  He survived until the ship reached Port Jackson but died at Sydney on 12 June 1803.

Large collections of seeds were forwarded to Kew, where many new plants were raised from them.  The second edition of Hortus Kewensis (1812) lists many plants as introduced by Good.

Flinders named Goods Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria after him, and he is also commemorated in Goods Gully on Mount Brown, South Australia, where the Investigator’s naturalists spent the night of 10–11 March 1802.

Robert Brown admired his work ethic immensely and named the plant genus Goodia in his honour.  He is also commemorated in species of Banksia and Grevillea.

His journal and plant lists from the Investigator voyage are held in the Natural History Museum, London. No portrait is known.

Sources

Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis & The Natural History Museum, London, p. 284.

Edwards, P. (ed.) (1981), The Journal of Peter Good: Gardener on Matthew Flinders Voyage to Terra Australis 1801–03, Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Historical series vol. 9, London.

Mabberley, D.J. (2004), Good, Peter (d. 1803), horticulturalist and plant collector, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford.

Webb, M. (2005), Peter Good: gardener on a voyage of discovery, pp 97–103 in J. Wege et al. (eds), Matthew Flinders and his Scientific Gentleman: The Expedition of HMS Investigator to Australia, 1801–05, Western Australian Museum, Perth.