CAMBAGE, Richard Hind (1859-1928)


CAMBAGE, Richard Hind (1859-1928)
botanist and surveyor
son of John Fisher Cambage, was born at Milton New South Wales, on 7 November 1859. He was educated at state and private schools, and for a short time was a teacher at the Milton state school. In 1878 he became an assistant to M. J. Callaghan, surveyor, and took part in the survey of National Park in 1879 and 1880. He qualified as a licensed surveyor in June 1882, was engaged in the lands department for three years as a draftsman and then entered the department of mines as a mining surveyor. He had great experience in this capacity and in 1902 was appointed chief mining surveyor. He held this position until 1 January 1916, when he was made under-secretary of the mines department. He retired from the public service on 7 November 1924. Though a busy public servant he contrived to carry on a large amount of other work and cultivated many interests. From 1909 to 1915 he lectured on surveying at Sydney technical college, was on three occasions elected president of the Institution of Surveyors, and was for 15 years a member of its board of examiners. He had early become much interested in geology and botany, and between 1901 and 1903 contributed to the Linnean Society a series of "Notes on the Botany of the Interior of New South Wales" of which as "Notes on the Native Flora of New South Wales", a further long series was published over a period of more than 20 years. He was secretary of the Royal Society of New South Wales from 1914 to 1922 and from 1925 to 1928 and was president in 1912 and 1923. He was a member of the council of the Linnean Society of New South Wales from 1906 and was its president in 1924. He was honorary secretary of the Australian National Research Council from its inception in 1919 until 1926, and organized the second pan-Pacific science congress held in Melbourne and Sydney in 1923. He was its president from 1926 to 1928 and he was elected president of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science In 1928. He was also president of the New South Wales forest league and did much work for the Australian wattle league. His amiability and tact made him an invaluable secretary and president, but in spite of the time spent on administrative work Cambage was able to make valuable contributions to science. For many years he systematically planted seeds of acacia, and at the time of his death had contributed 13 papers to the Journal of the Royal Society with descriptions of 130 species, and he also did some papers on the eucalypts. As a member of the Royal Australian Historical Society his knowledge of surveying and bushcraft enabled him to throw light on the journeys of some of the early explorers. A paper on Exploration Beyond the Upper Nepean in 1798, was published separately as a pamphlet in 1920. He died suddenly on 28 November 1928. He married in 1881 Fanny, daughter of Henry Skillman, who predeceased him, and was survived by two sons and two daughters. He was created C.B.E. in 1925. A list of his papers will be found in the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales for 1934, pp. 445-7.
Cambage was an amiable man of many enthusiasms, interested in cricket, which he had played well in his youth, in music, and in every aspect of nature. He was an excellent public official. and as a scientist he was recognized as an authority in more than one branch of botany; few people had such a wide knowledge of the flora of Australia. His administrative work in connexion with scientific societies was a remarkable record of public service.
Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 1934, pp. 435-47, with portrait, 1929, p. v; Journal and Proceedings Royal Society of New South Wales, 1929, p. xi; The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 November 1928; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1927.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.