To John O'Shanassy   3 November 1858

Melbourne botanic Garden,

3. Nov. 1858.


I have the honor to report that since a considerable period stealing of plants occurred in this establishment, almost weekly some plants being missing, on one occasion about 30 plants being stolen from the enclosure around the small hot-house, repeatedly young trees are out of the avenues and on Sunday or Monday last three valuable pines from the pinetum, whereby the symmetry of the plantation is destroyed, it being difficult if not impossible to replace the stolen plants by the same species in the same age.

Since we failed to apprehend the perpetrators and since the vigilance of one or two individuals on our extensive open ground would not suffice for securing the property of the Government, I beg humbly to suggest, that a reward might be offered to any person disclosing the theft, not so much in anticipation of bringing the perpetrators to justice, but rather to effect by this measure a wholsome warning and a due respect to the regulations of the Government.

I have the honor to be


your most obedient and humblest servant

Ferd. Mueller.


The honorable the Chief Secretary.1

On 10 November 1858 the Under Secretary, J. Moore, referred M's letter to the Acting Commissioner of Police, F. Standish. Standish replied on 15 November: 'I would recommend that a reward of twenty pounds be offered for information leading to the conviction of parties of this offence, and that placards to that effect be struck off and forwarded to Dr Mueller to be posted up throughout the Gardens and the neighbouring localities. I think however a Constable in plain clothes might occasionally be of service in the Gardens, and would suggest that Dr Mueller be requested to consult with Supt Dana as to the times at which a Constable might in this way be most advantageously employed.'

A reward of £25 was offered to any person giving information which led to the apprehension and conviction of individuals who stole plants from the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. See Victoria Government gazette, 19 November 1858, p. 2328.

See also J. Moore to M, 18 November 1858 where M is notified that reward placards will be posted and a plain clothes policeman occasionally made available to patrol the Garden.

Please cite as “FVM-58-11-03,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 20 September 2021,