On this page...

Gould's network of collectors spanned the world. In Australia alone Gould had at least 17 collectors as well as members from the HMS Beagle who collected for him while they were in Australia.

Pig-footed Bandicoot Skull
Pig-footed Bandicoot Skull Photographer: Australian Museum Photography © Australian Museum Collection Image: -

Collectors sent specimens to Gould for a variety of reasons. Some were natural history enthusiasts, some were paid by the piece and others were employed by Gould.

Being a collector was dangerous - three of Gould's collectors in Australia were killed by Aboriginal people when they strayed into their territory.

Gould's main collectors in Australia:

  • John Gilbert (1812-1845) was Gould's primary collector from 1838 until his death. Gilbert was killed by an Aboriginal spear in the neck while travelling on Ludwig Leichhardt's overland expedition to Port Essington.
  • Frederick Strange (flourished between 1826-1854) was a collector with Charles Sturt on the Murray. Strange long coveted the position of primary collector for Gould even before Gilbert's death. We know that Strange was semiliterate from a note he sent Gould and that he mismanaged his affairs and was financially incompetent. Frederick Strange was killed by Aboriginal people in Queensland.
  • Charles Coxen (1809-1876) was Gould's brother-in-law and had resided in New South Wales since the early 1830s. He not only provided the Australian Museum with specimens but also sent specimens to Gould as did Stephen Coxen, another brother-in-law. The brother's letters and the 'strange and unusual' specimens they sent back to England inspired Gould to travel to Australia to collect material for himself.
  • Johnson Drummond (flourished between 1820-1845) collected mammals and birds for Gould, in Western Australia, where he lived with his father. Gilbert met Drummond when he came to Australia and Gould refers to specimens that Drummond shot in The Birds of Australia. Drummond was killed by Aboriginal people in the west.
  • John MacGillivray (1824-1867) was an Australian naturalist who collected for the Earl of Derby who had a working relationship with Gould. MacGillivray was a naturalist on the H.M.S. Rattlesnake.