Letter L, first part

Whose Bird? - Number 12

Lafayette..........Lady Macgregor..........Lawes

By Bruce Poulter

Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Mothier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757- 1834) was a French nobleman and cavalry officer. In 1777 he sailed for America to fight against the British, soon becoming a major-general and being assigned to George Washington's staff. His fortunes varied. He was denounced as a traitor during the French Revolution and had to flee France. Later he worked for Napoleon's abdication after the Battle of Waterloo. He refused the presidency of the new republic and helped to make Louis Philippe the constitutional monarch of France. At his death he preferred the republican option. Lafayette's Junglefowl (Gallus lafayettii) (Ceylon, 1964, 60 cents) was named in his honour by Lesson at the height of Lafayette's fame.

Ram¤în de la Sagra (1801- 1871) was a Spanish economist and botanist who lived and worked in Cuba and died in Switzerland. He was appointed Director of the Havana Botanical Gardens in 1822, a post he retained until 1834. During this time he collected widely. He wrote the 13 volumes of Historia Fisica, Politica y Natural de la Isla de Cuba which appeared between 1839 and 1861. In 1971 Cuba issued a set of eight bird stamps to commemorate the centenary of his death. La Sagra's Flycatcher (Myiarchus sagrae) (Cayman Islands, 1986, 35 cents) was, however, not included in this set!

There is a transcription error here as La Selle's Thrush (Turdus swalesi) (Dominican Republic, 1996, 2 pesos) was named after a geographical location and not a person! It was originally thought to be confined to 'Massif de la Selle', Haiti, where it is no longer to be found. However, the bird's original name, Swale's Thrush, honoured Bradshaw H Swales who co-authored the first avifauna of Hispaniola.

Sarah Countess Amherst (1762- 1838) was married to William Pitt Amherst, Governor General of Bengal from 1822 - 1828. He was responsible for sending the first specimen of Lady Amherst's Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae) (Sweden, 1997, 2 krona) to London in 1828. The bird did not survive the journey but its specimen was used by Leadbetter for his official description. The first live specimens arrived in London in 1869.

Lady Mary Macgregor was the wife of Sir William Macgregor (1846- 1919), who was a naturalist, collector and diplomat. His tours of duty took him to Fiji, New Guinea, Nigeria, Newfoundland and Queensland. Macgregor's Bowerbird (Amblyornis macgregoriae) (Papua New Guinea, 2010, 5 toea) was named for Lady Mary. It is only recently that DNA work suggested that this bird is a bowerbird and not, as originally thought, a bird-of-paradise.

Lady Ann Ross (1817-1857) was the wife of Rear-Admiral Sir James Clark Ross. He discovered not only the Magnetic North Pole but also the Ross Sea and the Ross Ice Shelf. While stationed on St. Helena, Lady Anne received a live specimen of Ross' Turaco (Musophaga rossae) (Kenya, 1993, 1shilling 50) from an unknown locality in West Africa. She kept the bird in captivity for 10 years and her description of it led it to be named after her.

Dr. John Latham (1740-1837) was a British physicist, naturalist and author. He played a leading role in the formation of the Linnaean Society and was a Fellow of the Royal Society. He practised as a doctor in Kent. He knew all of the important naturalists of his day so he had access to examine the drawings and specimens of birds that reached the UK. Latham's Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) (Japan, 1991, 62 yen)was one of four birds named after him.

Carl Lauterbach (1864 - 1937) was a German botanist who collected in, and led an expedition to, northern New Guinea and who wrote widely on orchids. Lauterbach's Bowerbird (Chlamydera lauterbachi) (Papua New Guinea, 2010, 6 kina 30) was named after him.

The Reverend William George Lawes (1839-1907) was a missionary in New Guinea. He produced the first printed piece of paper in Papua New Guinea. In 1863 he translated the Bible into Motu. He is credited with collecting Dendrobium lawesii - one of the easiest orchid species to cultivate in a greenhouse. Lawes Parotia (Parotia lawesii) (Papua New Guinea, 1964, 6 dollars) was named after him.

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