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William Paterson

In office
16 February 1804 – 24 March 1808

In office
18 December 1794 – 19 September 1795
Preceded by Francis Grose
Succeeded by Office Vacant
In office
24 March 1806 – 1 January 1808
Preceded by Office Vacant
Succeeded by George Johnston

Born 17 August 1755(1755-08-17)
Montrose, Scotland
Died 21 June 1810 (aged 54)
at sea off Cape Horn
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Paterson

Colonel William Paterson (17 August 1755 – 21 June 1810) was a Scottish soldier, explorer, Lieutenant governor and botanist best known for leading early settlement in Tasmania. This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Paterson when citing a botanical name.[1]




Early years

A native of Montrose, Scotland, Paterson was intested in botany as a boy. Paterson was sent to the Cape Colony by the wealthy and eccentric Countess of Strathmore to collect plants, he arrived in Table Bay on board the "Houghton" in May 1777. He made four trips into the interior between May 1777 and March 1780, when he departed. In 1789 Paterson published Narrative of Four Journeys into the Country of the Hottentots and Caffraria, which he dedicated to Sir Joseph Banks.


Paterson was originally commissioned as an ensign in the 98th Regiment of Foot and served in India. He later transferred to the 73rd Regiment of Foot after the 98th's disbandment in 1787. In 1789, he was promoted to captain in the New South Wales Corps. After some time spent recruiting, he arrived in Sydney in October 1791. From November 1791 until March 1793 he served in command on Norfolk Island. Whilst there he collected botanical, geological and insect specimens and sent them to Banks.

In 1794, Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson granted more land and convict servants to the military, giving them great powers and undermining Governor Arthur Phillip's good naval government.

Paterson led an expedition to the Hunter Valley in 1801 and up the Paterson River (later named in his honour by Governor King).

Between 1804 and 1808 Paterson was the Lieutenant Governor of the north of Van Diemen's Land.

In 1804 Paterson led an expedition to Port Dalrymple, Tasmania, exploring the Tamar River and going up the North Esk River farther than anyone previously had managed to do.

In 1806 Paterson's duties as commander of the New South Wales Corps required him to return to Sydney, but he came back in 1807, and stayed until December 1808. During this time he corresponded regularly with the eminent naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, sending a number of specimens.

Personal life

Paterson was appointed Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales on 1 January 1809, and was replaced by Lachlan Macquarie at the end of the year. His health had begun to decline; he left Sydney on 12 May 1810, but died on board HMS Dromedary while off Cape Horn just a few weeks later.

His widow Elizabeth married Francis Grose in April 1814, but he died a month later.


  • Paterson, Lieut. William (1789) A Narrative of four Journeys into the Country of the Hottentotts and Caffria. In the Years One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven, Eight, and Nine. J. Johnson ... 1789.



  1. ^ Brummitt, R. K.; C. E. Powell (1992). Authors of Plant Names. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-085-4.  

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Francis Grose
Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales
1794 - 1795
Succeeded by
Office Vacant
Preceded by
Office Vacant
Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales
1806 - 1808
Succeeded by
George Johnston


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