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Document number: 477
Date: 22 Dec
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BOWIE Jean
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 30th August 2010

14 Portland Street
Decr 22d


A letter which you addressed to Mr Bowie at Kew in July haveing [sic] been packed by mistake in a parcel sent to the of north of England instead of being enclosed in one for the Cape which place he arrived at on the 7th of August,<1> has been returned to me this day it will be instantly forwarded to him but as some time must elapse before an answer can be returned I have taken the liberty of making this explanation

Any Letter Addressed to him at Cape Town South Africa will be punctually attended to

I Have the Honor to Be Sir your Hbl Set
Jean Bowie<2>


1. WHFT's letter has not been located. James Bowie (1789-1869) collected plants for Kew in Brazil and South Africa. On none of his four known official trips to Cape Town annually from 1818 is he known to have arrived there on 7 August (see, Gideon F. Smith and A.E. van Wyk, "Biographical Notes on James Bowie and the Discovery of Aloe Bowiea Schult. & J. H. Schult. (Alooideae: Asphodelacae," Taxon, v. 38 no. 4, November 1989, pp. 557-568). He lost his position at Kew, descended into alcoholism, and returned to Cape Town on his own in 1827, where he remained a natural history collector for the rest of his life.

2. James Bowie never married, so presumably the writer was a blood relative. In the 1808 London directory, A. Bowie (probably James Bowie's father) was listed as a Nursery and Seedsman, 4, Edward St, Portman Square; this is in the vicinity of where Portland Street was later established.