KREFFT, Johann Ludwig Gerard (1830-1881)


KREFFT, Johann Ludwig Gerard (1830-1881)
naturalist
was born at Brunswick, Germany, on 17 February 1830. He was educated in his native town, and as a youth was much interested in art and wished to study painting. He was, however, placed in a mercantile house and about 1850 emigrated to New York. In 1852 he went to Australia and arrived in Melbourne in November of that year. He worked on the goldfields with success, returned to Melbourne in 1857, and in 1858 was a member of a collecting expedition fitted out by the Victorian government. He was employed for about a year as collector and draftsman for the natural history museum at Melbourne under Professor McCoy (q.v.), and then for a short period as an assistant in the museum. He returned to Germany, but after a short visit went to Australia again and was appointed secretary and assistant to the curator, Dr Pittard, at the Australian museum, Sydney. On the death of Dr Pittard in 1861 Krefft became curator and secretary of the museum. In 1864 he published a Catalogue of Mammalia in the Collection of the Australian Museum, and in 1865, as a pamphlet, Two Papers on the Vertebrata of the Lower Murray and Darling and on the Snakes of Sydney. These papers had been read before the Philosophical Society of New South Wales and, though the title did not show it, a third paper on the "Aborigines of the Lower Murray and Darling" was included in the publication. In 1869 Krefft brought out The Snakes of Australia and in 1871 The Mammals of Australia, both with plates. His Catalogue of the Minerals and Rocks in the Collection of the Australian Museum was published in 1873. He was unhappy in his relations with the trustees of the museum, various charges of neglect of duty were brought against him, and he was dismissed in August 1874. He subsequently brought an action against one of the trustees and obtained a verdict for £250. The judge held that Krefft was a superior officer under government, and that no one had power to remove him but the governor with the advice of the executive council. Subsequently parliament passed a vote of £1000 to be applied in satisfaction of Krefft's claims. in 1877 he began the publication of Krefft's Nature in Australia, a popular journal for the discussion of questions of natural history, but it quickly ceased publication. He died on 19 February 1881 (Registrar-General, Sydney). He was a member of many scientific societies, and contributed papers to the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London and other scientific and popular journals. Some of these were printed separately as pamphlets.
J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; British Museum Catalogue; Annual Reports Australian Museum, 1874, 1875; Nature, 21 April 1881.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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