Fryer, Alfred (1826 – 1912)

Fryer’s father (Daniel) was a ‘gentleman farmer”, and a partner in a brewery. Through his (boarding) school in Leicestershire , Alfred Fryer formed friendships with Henry Walter Bates (the explorer, whose name is forever associated with Batesian mimicry) and Alfred Russel Wallace. Rather than travel like or with them,  Fryer’s literary activities were dominant at that stage in his life. However, his interests  butterflies, molluscs and birds gradually developed which in turn led to his study of the local flora in and around Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, where he was based.  He sent many specimens from Chatteris  and the surrounding area to C C Babington at Cambridge.  He had a number of glasshouses in his garden; the clipping opposite from the Journal of Horticulture would suggest that he raised plants (geraniums, pelargoniums etc) for sale.

He focussed on pond weeds (Potamogeton spp), which occurred in considerable diversity in the waterways around Chatteris. He followed their growth and development throughout the seasons and even grew them in his garden. He was elected to a Fellowship of the Linnean Society. He started on his ‘great work’  ‘The Potamogetons  (pond weeds) of the British Isles‘ which was completed after his death by Arthur Bennett – the Croydon based botanist. Bennett named Potamogeton fryeri in recognition of Fryer’s botanical work.

A detailed obituary appeared in The Journal of Botany in 1912, the photo (above) is from this source.  The obituary may be accessed from http:// www.archive.org, where the Journal may be read online or downloaded.  The Oxford DNB also has a detailed profile of Fryer, which can be accessed if you are a member of your local library -see the library card login on the side menu.

His herbarium specimens / collections are housed in the Natural History Museum, Cambridge University and the Manchester Museum.  A number of his specimens can be viewed on-line at the Herbaria@home project, for example : http://herbariaunited.org/sheets/BIRM/18683.jpg .  An example of his handwriting is shown below.

handwriting sample

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2 Responses to Fryer, Alfred (1826 – 1912)

  1. Sarah Stille says:

    Would we be right in assuming that Fryer’s cultivated pondweeds on H@H were grown at Chatteris?

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