Thomas Horsfield

Thomas Horsfield M.D. (May 12, 1773 – July 24, 1859) was an American physician and naturalist who worked extensively in Indonesia, describing numerous species of plants and animals from the region. He was later a curator of the East India Company Museum in London.[1][2]

Portrait by J. Erxleben

Early life

Horsfield was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.[3] He was the grandson of Timothy Horsfield, Sr. (1708-1773), who was born in Liverpool and emigrated to New York in 1725.[1] In New York, his brother Isaac and he ran a butcher shop. The Horsfield family converted from the Church of England to Moravianism, a Protestant denomination with a strong emphasis on education. In 1748, he applied for permission to reside in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He, however, moved only his family to Bethlehem and joined them the next year.[1] When Northampton County was created in 1752, he was made a justice of peace by Governor Hamilton. In 1763 he was commissioned a colonel in the forces defending the frontiers against Indian raids. One of the sons, Joseph Horsfield was a delegate in the Pennsylvania convention to ratify the Federal Constitution. Grandfather Horsfield was a friend of Benjamin Franklin and finds mention in the latter's autobiography. Horsfield's father was Timothy Horsfield, Jr. (died April 11, 1789) and he married Juliana Sarah Parsons of Philadelphia in 1738. Thomas Horsfield was born in Bethlehem on May 12, 1773. He went to school at the Moravian schools in Bethlehem and Nazareth. He took an interest in biology and took a pharmacy course under a Dr Otto (probably John Frederick Otto MD, of Nazareth). In 1798, he graduated in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, his thesis being on the effects of poison ivy.[1]

Travels in Asia

In 1790, he accepted a post as surgeon on the vessel China, a merchant vessel that was to sail to Java. He passed through Batavia and was struck by the beauty of the region. In 1801, he applied as a surgeon with the Dutch Colonial Army in Batavia. Taking up appointment there, he took a keen interest in the flora, fauna, and geology of the region. The East India Company took control of the island from the Dutch in 1811, and Horsfield began to collect plants and animals on behalf of the governor and friend Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. In 1816, Java was restored to the Dutch and Horsfield moved east to Sumatra. In 1819, he was forced to leave the island due to ill health, and returned to London on board the Lady Raffles.[1][4]


On returning to London, Horsfield continued to be in contact with Sir Stamford Raffles and became a keeper of the museum of the East India Company on Leadenhall Street, London, working under Charles Wilkins. He stayed in this position, later as a curator, until his death on July 24, 1859. Horsfield took an interest in geology, botany, zoology, and entomology. He was influenced by William Sharp Macleay and his quinarian system of classification. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of London (1828) and a fellow of the Linnean Society (1820), later becoming a vice president.[1] Horsfield was appointed assistant secretary of the Zoological Society of London at its formation in 1826. In 1833, he was a founder of what became the Royal Entomological Society of London. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1828.[2] In 1838, he became correspondent of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands; when that became the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1851, he joined as foreign member.[5] Horsfield died at his home in Camden Town and was buried at the Moravian cemetery in Chelsea.[1][2]

Published works

Writing on Horsfield's Catalogue of the mammals in the East India Company Museum on a copy to Theodore Edward Cantor

Horsfield wrote Zoological Researches in Java and the Neighbouring Islands (1824). He also classified a number of birds with Nicholas Aylward Vigors, most notably in their A Description of the Australian Birds in the Collection of the Linnean Society; With an Attempt at Arranging them According to Their Natural Affinities (Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. (1827)). Together with the botanists Robert Brown and John Joseph Bennett he published the Plantae Javanicae rariores (1838–52).

Horsfield is commemorated in the names of a number of animals and plants, including:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g McNair JB (1942). "Thomas Horsfield—American Naturalist and Explorer". Torreya. 42 (1): 1–9.
  2. ^ a b c Bastin, John; Moore, D. T. (1982). "The geological researches of Dr Thomas Horsfield in Indonesia, 1801–1819". Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Historical Series. 10 (3): 75–115.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Horsfield, Thomas (1773-1859), physician and naturalist by D. T. Moore in Dictionary of National Biography online (accessed 21 July 2008)
  4. ^ Cowan, Charles F. (1975-11-01). "Horsfield, Moore, and the Catalogues of the East India Company Museum". Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History. 7 (3): 273–284. doi:10.3366/jsbnh.1975.7.3.273. ISSN 0037-9778.
  5. ^ "Thomas Horsfield (1773 - 1859)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Horsfield", p. 125).
  7. ^ IPNI.  Horsf.

External links


Amblypodia is a genus of butterflies in the family Lycaenidae. Several species formerly placed here are now in Arhopala and Flos, although this placement is not necessarily definite.

The remaining species of Amblypodia are:

Amblypodia anita – purple leaf blue

Amblypodia annetta

Amblypodia naradaThe species of this genus are found in the Indomalaya ecozone (mainly) and the Australasian ecozone.

Media related to Amblypodia at Wikimedia Commons

Data related to Amblypodia at Wikispecies

Ariadne (genus)

Ariadne is a genus of nymphalid butterflies, commonly called castors, found from Sub-Saharan Africa to South-East Asia. The genus was named after Ariadne the daughter of Minos, king of Crete.

Brown pipistrelle

The brown pipistrelle (Hypsugo imbricatus) is a species of vesper bat in the family Vespertilionidae.

It is found in Indonesia and Malaysia.


Cheiromeles is a genus of bats in the family Molossidae, the free-tailed bats. The genus was erected and described by Thomas Horsfield, who developed the name from the Greek word cheir ("hand"), a reference to the hand-like hindfoot, which has a toe that flexes like an opposable thumb. These bats have mostly hairless bodies and fold their wings into pouches of skin along their bodies when at rest. These are among the largest insectivorous bats, weighing up to 135 grams.There are two species in this genus:

Lesser naked bat Cheiromeles parvidens

Hairless bat Cheiromeles torquatus

Frederic Moore

Frederic Moore FZS (13 May 1830 – 10 May 1907) was a British entomologist. He was also an illustrator and produced six volumes of Lepidoptera Indica and a catalogue of the birds in the collection of the East India Company.

It has been said that Moore was born at 33 Bruton Street but may be incorrect given that this was the address of the menagerie and office of the Zoological Society of London from 1826 to 1836. Moore was appointed an assistant in the East India Company Museum London from 31 May 1848 on a "disestablished basis" and became a Temporary Writer and then an Assistant Curator at the East India Museum with a pension of £330 per annum from 31 December 1879. He had a daughter Rosa Martha Moore. He began compiling Lepidoptera indica (1890–1913), a major work on the butterflies of the South Asia in 10 volumes, which was completed after his death by Charles Swinhoe. Many of the plates were produced by his son while some others were produced by E C Knight and John Nugent Fitch. Many species of butterfly were described by him in this work.

"Moore entered the doors of entomology by way of his artistic abilities. Dr. T. Horsfield (1777–1859), long associated with the East India Museum, required someone capable of doing natural history drawings and, through an introduction, Frederic Moore obtained the post. Thus began a lifetime association with Indian Lepidoptera"Moore's son F. C. Moore was also an artist and prepared many of the plates in Lepidoptera Indica. Moore's brother T. J. Moore was a curator at the Liverpool Museum for forty years and his son Thomas Francis Moore was an osteologist at the National Museum at Melbourne.Moore was an associate of the Linnean Society of London, a member of the Entomological Society of London, a corresponding member of the Entomological Society of Stettin and of the Entomological Society of the Netherlands. His other works included A catalogue of the birds in the museum of the East-India Company (1854–58, with Thomas Horsfield) and The Lepidoptera of Ceylon (1880–87).

Gandaca harina

Gandaca harina, the tree yellow, is a butterfly in the family Pieridae. It is found in India, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia. The species was first described by Thomas Horsfield in 1829.

Greater Asiatic yellow bat

The greater Asiatic yellow bat (Scotophilus heathii) is a species of vesper bat.It is found in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.Like many bats, females have delayed ovulation, with the ability to store sperm. This makes them particularly of interest to biologists. Studies have shown that seasonal changes in hormones allow them to deposit fat before the onset of winter.It is named after Josiah Marshall Heath, who presented the type specimen to the Zoological Society of London.

Himalayan whiskered bat

The Himalayan whiskered bat (Myotis siligorensis) is a species of vesper bat. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, and Vietnam.

Horsfield's treeshrew

Horsfield's treeshrew (Tupaia javanica), also called Javan treeshrew, is a treeshrew species within the Tupaiidae. It is endemic to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Bali, Java and Nias where it inhabits foremost primary forest.It was first described by Thomas Horsfield in 1822.

Several subspecies have been proposed based on variation in colourisation; however, colour is an unreliable distinguishing character.


Ideopsis is a genus of nymphalid butterflies in the subfamily Danainae found in South-east Asia.

Intermediate horseshoe bat

The intermediate horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis) is a bat species of the family Rhinolophidae that is very widespread throughout much of South Asia, southern and central China and Southeast Asia. It is listed by IUCN as Least Concern as it is considered common where it occurs, without any known major threats.

Intermediate roundleaf bat

The intermediate roundleaf bat (Hipposideros larvatus) is a species of bat in the family Hipposideridae. It is found in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Kallima paralekta

Kallima paralekta, the Indian leafwing or Malayan leafwing, is a species of brush-footed butterfly of the genus Kallima. Despite its common names, it is not found in India or Malaysia, but is endemic to Java and Sumatra of Indonesia. Like other members of its genus, it is remarkable for its strong resemblance to a dead leaf when its wings are folded. It was one of the species encountered by the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in his travels in maritime Southeast Asia. It is mentioned in his famous 19th-century work The Malay Archipelago as one of the best examples of protective camouflage achieved through natural selection.

Large-footed bat

The large-footed bat, large-footed mouse-eared bat, or large-footed myotis (Myotis adversus) is a species of vesper bat (family Vespertilionidae). It can be found in the following countries: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Vanuatu, and possibly Vietnam.


Loxura is a genus of butterflies in the family Lycaenidae. The species in this genus are found in the Indomalayan realm.


Neodon is a genus of rodent in the family Cricetidae. Species within Neodon are classified as relics of the Pleistocene epoch because the occlusal patterns resemble the extinct Allophaiomys.

The genus Neodon contains the following species:

Juniper vole (Neodon juldaschi)

Chinese scrub vole (Neodon irene)

Sikkim mountain vole (Neodon sikimensis)

Forrest's mountain vole (Neodon forresti)

Neodon linzhiensis

Pearson's horseshoe bat

Pearson's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus pearsonii) is a species of bat in the family Rhinolophidae.

It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.


Phalanta is a genus of butterflies, called leopards, in the family Nymphalidae. The genus ranges from Africa to northern Australia.


The puffbirds and their relatives in the near passerine family Bucconidae are tropical tree-dwelling insectivorous birds that are found from South America up to Mexico. Together with their closest relatives, the jacamars, they form a divergent lineage within the order Piciformes, though the two families are sometimes elevated to a separate order Galbuliformes. Lacking the iridescent colours of the jacamars, puffbirds are mainly brown, rufous or grey, with large heads, large eyes, and flattened bills with a hooked tip. Their loose, abundant plumage and short tails makes them look stout and puffy, giving rise to the English name of the family. The species range in size from the rufous-capped nunlet, at 13 cm (5.1 in) and 14 g (0.49 oz), to the white-necked puffbird, at up to 29 cm (11 in) and 106 g (3.7 oz).

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