Charles Bailey (1838-1924)

charles bailey

Bailey was born at Atherstone, Warwickshire on the 14th June 1838. He moved to Manchester in 1852 and was a senior employee of Ralli Brothers, the East India Company merchants of Manchester. He collected plants in the Manchester area and throughout Britain from the early 1860s and collected for over 50 years. He was elected President of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society from 1901-03. Bailey’s interests in wild flowers extended beyond Britain to all of Europe, and he had intended to obtain an example of every European plant from each country in which it grew. His collection is also notable for the large collection of British and European brambles, which is one of the finest in Britain.

Bailey moved to St. Anne’s near Blackpool in 1902, where he had two houses: one in which he lived and one to house his herbarium! On retirement Bailey moved to Cheltenham and later Torquay where he died in 1924.

His extensive collections were donated to The Manchester Museum as Bailey had always intended; his generous legacy forms a major part of the Museum’s botanical collections.



Leo Grindon (1818-1904)

 Leopold Hartley Grindon was born the son of a solicitor and city coroner in Bristol on 28 March 1818, and was in education up to the age of 15. He began to collect plant specimens at the age of 13 and his collection is now housed here at The Manchester Museum. He moved to Manchester when he was 20 to work as a cashier at Whittaker & Co. He first lived in Portland Street, where Piccadilly Gardens now stands. Despite being younger and a newcomer to the city, Grindon’s name precedes Buxton’s as assistant to J B Wood for the publication of ‘Flora Mancuniensis’ in 1840. Although he suffered from ill health from the age of 24, Grindon would venture out on his botanical country walks. He built up a good reputation for his botanical knowledge and was in demand as a tutor.


Leo Grindon
In 1852 Grindon was appointed as a lecturer at the Manchester Medical School and in 1853 he moved to Greenheys, close to Manchester University and Museum. Here Grindon enriched his garden with many rare species and wrote numerous books, including ‘Manchester Walks & Wild Flowers’ (1858) and ‘Manchester Flora’ (1859). He formed the Manchester Field Naturalist Society in 1860.

Apart from writing many books on the flora of the area round Manchester, e.g. ‘Country Rambles’ and ‘Manchester Walks and Wild Flowers’ (pub. 1882) – a reprint of the smaller book first printed in 1858 and the seminal Manchester Flora of 1859, one of Leo Grindon’s abiding interests was in educating the working classes and by encouraging an interest in plants and gardening to make their lives less bleak.

He made his collection more comprehensive by putting pictures and text in with the specimens.  He used to buy two copies of gardening magazines, so that his audience did not have to turn the pages over to read the entire article.  He also included some very old prints and articles dating back to the 16th century.  Nowadays we would consider this to be sheer vandalism, but Grindon was thinking of his objective rather than conservation.

On leaving Whittaker’s in 1864, Grindon was able to devote much more time to teaching and writing, publishing ‘Country Rambles’ in 1882. The terraced houses of Cecil Street, where the Grindon family moved to in 1883, have been replaced by modern housing, but the character of nearby properties may resemble their home. Grindon continued to lecture and write until he was almost 70. He was soon to be taken seriously ill, but still gained pleasure from the flowers grown in his small back garden. A west-country boy with a love of the great outdoors, botany, religion, poetry and literature, much is owed to Leo Grindon. His meticulous observations offer a rare glimpse of the Manchester environment before areas were developed and many plants became extinct.

His herbarium collection is enormous.  There are over 300 boxes holding thousands of specimens of flowering plants, ferns, a few fungi and mosses.  Also included are the numerous botanical illustrations, newspaper/journal articles, handwritten notes, medicinal uses, and pages from key botanical works.  There are also some letters found with the specimens from other collectors or botanists.


James Cosmo Melvill (1845-1929)cosmo


Melvill was born at Hampstead on 1 July 1845.  He was educated at Harrow and, before moving on to Cambridge University, demonstrated his flair for natural history with the publication of the ‘Flora of Harrow’ in 1864.  Melvill travelled widely whilst in his 20’s and was a great collector.  His uncle, Edward Hardcastle, was a well known Manchester business man and Melvill entered his uncle’s business in 1872, where he remained until 1887 when he moved to the Dewhurst family business.  He married in 1874 and settled in Sedgley Park with his wife, Bertha Dewhurst of Lymn.

Melvill was a close friend of Charles Bailey and the two men worked together “to cover the entire globe” as regards the amassing of botanical specimens.  Melvill frequently visited Kersal Moor and published his findings in ‘The Flora of Kersal Moor’ in the Journal of Botany in 1882.  Melvill built up strong links with the Manchester Anglican Diocese, The Manchester Museum, and the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, of which he was President 1897-99.  He retired to Shrewsbury in 1904 and concentrated his efforts on purchasing the plant and shell collections of others.  Melvill died at Meole Brace, Shropshire 4 November 1929.  His herbarium, which included specimens collected by Darwin and Linnaeus, was generously donated to The Manchester Museum.


2 thoughts on “Collectors

    […] Collectors […]

    […] Above, the image on the left gives a close look at bamboo’s leaves and stems (source). On the right is a herbarium specimen, collected from Manchester Botanical Garden in 1887, and given to the Museum in 1911 by the British educator and botanist Leo Grindon (1818-1904). Grindon taught botany at the Manchester Royal School of Medicine whilst offering private tuition in the subject. His collection of plants and related botanical drawings and writings formed one of the principal assets of the Herbarium at Manchester Museum. “His meticulous observations offer a rare glimpse of the Manchester environment before areas were developed and many plants became extinct” (Herbology Manchester). […]

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