Mary Elizabeth Barber, pioneer naturalist, dies


Mary Elizabeth BarberMary Elizabeth Barber. Source::

Monday, 4 September 1899

On 4 September 1899, an 1820 Settler and early South African naturalist, Mary Elizabeth Barber died in Malvern, Natal Province (now known as Kwazulu Natal). Barber was a remarkable woman with an extensive knowledge of natural history, especially botany and entomology and supplied Charles Darwin with valuable information for his work On the Origin of Species (1859). She was elected to the Hungarian ornithological society and several of her papers were translated into Hungarian.

As a natural historian, Baber was instrumental in influencing many of her family members and friends. She helped to establish the stratigraphic geology of South Africa for the first time, and initiated the examination of its ethnology, archaeology and palaeontology.

• Cohen, A., 1999, ‘Mary Elizabeth Barber, The Bowkers and South African Prehistory’ in South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 54, No. 170, pp. 120-127 [online]. Available at [Accessed: 20 July 2011]
•, 2011. “Barber, Mary E. (born Bowker, 1818-1899)” from Biodiversity Explorers [online]. Available at [Accessed 23 August 2011]
• Johnson, S.D., 2009. “Darwin’s legacy in South African evolutionary biology” in South African Journal of Science, Vol 105, No. 11-12, pp 403-409. Available at [Accessed 23 August 2011]

Last updated : 21-Aug-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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