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St Brody, Gustavus Adolphus Ornano (1828 - 1901)

Biographical notes

Gustavus Adolphus Ornano St Brody is a somewhat larger-than-life character whose legacy to British botany is somewhat equivocal. He undoubtedly made some significant discoveries but there is frequently a tinge of doubt remaining over their veracity and his methods. He is generally believed to have been born in France in 1828, although his place of birth is given as Prussia in the 1861 census, and his marriage records are consistent in asserting that his father was Edward St Brody, a military officer. He seems to have arrived in England in the early 1850s, claiming a bachelor's degree from Paris plus a master's and doctorate from Gottingen.
 He is first known in Weston-super-Mare in 1854, two years later publishing a flora of the area, a volume which achieved some notoriety for its inaccuracies. A flora of Somersetshire was also advertised but this never materialized. He appears to have remained in Weston-super-mare until the autumn of 1860 when he moved to Cheltenham.
 He later moved to Gloucester and his 1864 collection of Gloucestershire plants was awarded a silver medal in the RHS' botanical competition. In 1870 he sold his botanical collection and seems to have pursued a carrer as a teacher and private tutor in Leamington Spa. By 1877 he had moved to Richmond, Yorkshire staying there a few years before returning to the Bath area.
 After a brief period as a private tutor in Stevenston, Ayrshire, he returned south once more. He lived in Rochester then Plymouth, eventually moving to sheltered accommodation in Maidenhead, where he died on 22 November 1901.


1854 Weston-super-Mare
1861 Wellington-street, Cheltenham
1864 Westgate-street, Gloucester
1865 May 4 Norfolk-terrace, Gloucester
1871 Faulkner-street, Gloucester
1874 May 16 Clarendon-street, Leamington Spa
1877 February 1 Richmond, Yorks.
1881 Richmond, Yorks.
1882 Batcombe, Evercreech, Bath
1888 Stevenston, Ayrshire
1891 Maidstone-road, Rochester
1895 Plymouth
1897 January 4 Carlton-terrace, Lipson, Plymouth.
1901 Haven of Rest, Maidenhead

Additional links

Annotated family tree and items relating to his family life.. link
A more detailed description of his life by Richard Middleton, 2016. link
Lovatt, C. 2006. Bulletin, Bristol Naturalists' Society, No 450. 8 - 9
Wilkie Collins, a subscriber to St Brody's Flora of Weston (1856)
Lovatt, C. 2007. Bulletin, Bristol Naturalists' Society, No 457. 6 - 7.
The Meiosis website carries a brief biography of Dr St Brody. link
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1828 : Birth There seems to be some doubt as to his place of birth. In early censuses he specifies Prussia or Germany but from 1881 he was French.
1854 : Weston-super-Mare 11854 September 9: Wells Journal -
"WESTON-SUPER-MARE ... interesting and able lecture, on the Principles of Botany, was delivered at the Town Hall, on Wednesday last {6th}, by Mr. St. Brody, under the Presidency and support of A. Kinglake, Esq."
1856 : Publication The Flora of Weston-super-Mare was published.
1862 June 24 :
 1st Marriage.
He married Ann Rose Dudfield at Deptford, St Paul. She was the daughter of a Gloucester veterinary surgeon. Posibly a distant relation of Edwin Lees' brother-in-law.
1863 November 19 : FLS St Brody was elected as a Fellow of the Linnean Society, George Bentham chaired the meeting.
1865 :
 RHS silver medal
He was awarded a silver medal in the RHS' Botanical competition run over the year 1864.
1870 :
 Sale of herbarium
St Brody sold his herbarium. It was bought for Gloucester Museum by W. C. Lucy. It was later re-discovered there and catalogued by Rev W Butt in 1907. (Riddelsdell, H. J., Hedley, G. W. and Price, W. R. 1948. Flora of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham.) This is rather strange as he always maintained that he was going to give the herbarium to the museum.
 The sheets are now available on-line through the Herbaria@Home project
1870 July : Proposed flora "11870 July 2: Gloucester Journal -
 THE FLORA OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE. - Dr. St. Brody, who is well known as a local botanist, announces that he is preparing for publucation a Flora of Gloucestershire, a work for which he has been collecting the material for many years past. As this county is especially rich in botanical specimens, and Dr. St. Brody has discovered several species new to the British lists, or excluded from them on account of their being known to have been imported from foreign countries, the list will be interesting to residents more especially to those who study the charming science it will illustrate. Particulars of the forthcoming work, for which subscriber's names are solicited, will be found in our advertising columns.

FLORA OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE: or A CATALOGUE OF PLANTS FOUND IN THE COUNTY OF GLOUCESTER, with the localities of every species. By GUSTAVUS O. ST. BRODY, P.H.D., F.L.S., Lecturer on Natural History, Author of Flora of Weston, Catalogue of British Shells, &c.; first Gold and Silver Medallist at the Botanical Competition of the Royal Horticultural Society, Kensington.
A List of Subscribers will be added to the First Edition. Subscribers are requested to forward their names to the Author, Eastnor Villa, Gloucester. Price 7s. 6d. No Subscriptions received in advance.
1870 December 31 :
 Death of 1st wife
11871 January 7: Gloucestershire Chronicle-
 "DEATHS - Dec 31, at Wortley House, near Wooton-under-Edge, after a long and painful illness, Rose, wife of Dr. St. Brody, aged 32."
1872 :
 Resigned FLS
He appears to have resigned as a member of the Linnean Society.
1879 :
 School master
He was employed as a master at the Richmond Grammar School (Yorkshire)
1880 December 21 :
 2nd Marriage
Marriage to Mary Lever, spinster, of Woodlands, Lytham.
1881 :
 Herbarium saved
11881 February 7: Gloucester Citizen. -
"THE COUNTY MUSEUM ... I remain, yours truly, W. C. LUCY. Brookthorpe, February 1st, 1881. P.S. - Reference is also made to the absence of any botanical collection from the count. Some years since I fortunately prevented the valuable herbarium of local plants, collected by Dr. St Brody, from being lost to the county. When fitting cases can be provided for its reception, under the care of a proper custodian, I shall have pleasure in placing it in the museum."
1882 : Somerset 1882 August 4: Western Gazette -
  "GENERAL SERVANT WANTED about ? years of age. Must be clean and willing. Housework light. Washing put out. - Mrs St. Brody, Batcombe, Evercreech, Bath.'

The census shows that Walter C Baker, rector of Batcombe, was running a school here with 13 young gentlemen students aged 17 - 21. The establishment prepared for all range of Arm Examinations and had a "staff of first-rate tutors". It prepared men for Sandhurst - St Brody, with his father in the army, would be an ideal tutor here (there were five "experienced tutors" in 1888).
1888 : Stevenston 11888 June 23: Glasgow Herald -
 "TUTORSHIP. - Dr and Mrs St Brody, at present educating the children of Mr Edward Collins, are desirous of concluding a new angagement. Dr. St B. late assistant master in Westminster School, takes all the 7 subjects for the prelim exam., Sandhurst, and Mrs St B. is an accomplished musician - Address Mayvale, Stevenston."
1895 : Plymouth ¹1895 January 17 - Western Morning News
  "EDUCATION. ELM VILLA, MANNAMEAD, PLYMOUTH. School for the daughters of gentlemen only, conducted by Mrs and the Misses Morris … German - Dr. St.Brody, M.A. (Languages), Göttingen. B. ès Sc. Paris".
1897 January : Plymouth ¹1897 January 9 - Western Morning News
  "Dr St. Brody's select classes on botany, colloquial and higher French and German, from three to four and seven to eight p.m.; one guinea per term - 4, Carlton-terrace, Lipson, Plymouth.".
1901 November 22 : Death 1902 Journal of Botany 60: Obituary -
 "Gustavus A. Ornano St. Brody, who died at Wallingford, Berks, on the 22nd of last November, was the author of a small descriptive Flora of Weston-super-Mare, published in 1856, in connection with the botanical lecture-classes he held in that town ; it contains some interesting but not always accurate records. Dr. St. Brody was born in France in 1828, but appears to have spent the chief part of his life in Great Britain, as a teacher of science and of languages. He took the degree of B.Sc. at the Sorbonne, and also became M A and Ph. D. of Gottingen. In 1850 he advertised a Flora of Somersetshire as preparing for publication, but the work was never issued; the MS. is stated to be with his herbarium, which was sold to the Gloucester Museum in 1870. His discovery of Botrychium matricariifolia A.Br, in 1887 at Stevenston, in Ayrshire, confirmation of which is desirable, is noticed in this Journal in 1898, p. 291, where the specimen is figured . He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society from 1863 to 1872, and for many years a member of the Botanical Exchange Club."

1 Transcription reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Managed by Richard Middleton : last updated 2017 May 9