The University of North Carolina Herbarium
has catalogued about a two dozen fungi collected by C. B. Plowright. Most
were collected around Lynn (also known as King’s Lynn or Bishop’s Lynn) a
town in Norfolk (52.7543 latitude, 0.3976 longitude), Plowright’s birthplace.1,
2 As more of our
micro-fungi are cataloged, more specimens collected by Plowright will likely
be found. Most of Plowright’s
specimens at NCU are part of John Edward Vize’s exsiccati “MICRO-FUNGI BRITANNICI” and the exsiccati “Rabenhorst, Fungi europaei.”
Plowright also contributed specimens to the exsiccati
“Herbarium Mycologicum Oeconomicum,
F.K.A.E.J. De Thumen” and to “Mycotheca
Universalis, F.K.A.E.J. De Thueman.”
Specimen collected by
C. B. Plowright, Esq.
It is No. 451 of the exsiccati “Micro-Fungi Britannici”
All NCU’s mycological specimens, including
those collected by Charles Bagge Plowright, can be
searched at mycoportal.org.
Other herbaria in North America holding
Plowright’s specimens include BPI (United States National Fungus
Collections), CHRB (Rutgers University), CUP (Cornell University), F (Field
Museum), FH (Farlow Herbarium of Harvard University), ISC (Iowa State
University), NY (New York Botanical Garden), NYS, (New York State Museum), PH
(Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University), PUR & PUL (Purdue
University), UC (University of California Berkeley), ILL (University of
Illinois), MSC (Michigan State University), MICH (University of Michigan), MIN
(University of Minnesota), NEB (University of Nebraska State Museum), WIS
(University of Wisconsin, Madison) and WSP (Washington State University).
The following is from the Australia Postal
History & Social Philately website
Charles Bagge Plowright was born at
King’s Lynn on 3 April 1849, and was apprenticed to Dr. John Lowe, Surgeon-Apothecary
to the Prince of Wales and Surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital.
Plowright became a pupil of that institution in 1868 and afterwards he
studied at Anderson’s College in Glasgow, and was a dresser under Professor
Lister, who then was introducing the antiseptic system of treatment at the
Royal Infirmary. Plowright took the diplomas of M.R.C.S. of England, and the
L.R.C.P. of Edinburgh in 1870. After serving as house surgeon to the West
Norfolk and Lynn Hospital, he settled in practice at King’s Lynn. He was
appointed Medical Officer of Health for the Freebridge
Lynn Rural District over 30 years ago, and in this capacity he did much
excellent work: his reports were admirable, complete and suggestive. He was
Surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital for many years, and was
appointed Consulting Surgeon on ceasing to serve on the active staff. He was
a magistrate for the borough of Lynn, and took a keen interest in education,
being at one time a member of the Lynn Technical Education Committee, and a
director, afterwards vice-chairman, of the Girls’ High School, as well as
governor of the Lynn Grammar School. He had a high reputation as a skilful and careful surgeon, and had an extensive
practice throughout West Norfolk, from which he only retired a few weeks ago.
It was however as an authority on fungi that he was best known;
his reputation on this subject was, indeed, European. He was a corresponding
member of the Italian Cryptological and of the
French Mycological Societies, as well as the Scottish Cryptological
Society. He began the study of the subject as a boy of 14 or 15 years, and
whilst still house surgeon published a treatise on Sphaericacei
Britannici. At various times he
contributed numerous papers on his favorite subject in the
botanical and the medical press. From 1890 to 1894 he was Professor of
Comparative Anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons, and a report of his
courses of lectures on the action of fungi on the human body was published in
the British Medical Journal in 1893.
Plowright began by working on British field fungi, and in 1872
contributed to a list of 500 Norfolk fungi to the Norfolk and Norwich
Naturalists’ Society, of which he was subsequently President. Later on he
studied the parasitic fungi producing disease in plants, a subject upon which
he became an acknowledged authority. In 1891 he was the first to advocate the
use in this country of Bordeaux Mixture against potato, then used extensively
in France of mildew on vines and tomatoes. He was
also much interested in archeology, and wrote papers on neolithic
man in West Norfolk, on native dye plants used by our ancestors, on the
archeology of woad and the process by which its
blue colour was extracted, and the origin of the
apothecaries’ symbols for the scruple, drachm and ounce. He made an
interesting collection of neolithic and paleolithic implements, which he presented to the Lynn
A thoroughly competent and skilful
practitioner of medicine, he brought to the study of his favourite
department of science, a department that touches animal pathology at many
points, the all important qualities of
perseverance, exactness and insight. Dr. Plowright leaves a widow, a son who
is now surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital, and a daughter who is
the wife of Mr. T. Petch, mycologist to the
Government of Ceylon. The funeral took place on April 27, 1910 at North Wooton Parish Churchyard.
This obituary was extracted from the British Medical
Journal 7 May 1910 on pages 1149-1150, and a different and warm
approach to Dr. Plowright was found written by his great grandson Dr. M C. Petch, a cardiologist at Cambridge, U.K. who described
him as a Victorian Polymath (a person learned in many fields). I have
directly extracted the following from his paper in the BMJ 18
April 1998 page 1221:
"His absorption in natural history provided a perfect
counterbalance for his busy professional life, as when his diaries record the
finding of new botanical species at the height of the outbreak of enteric
fever. Most of his publications were concerned with the study of fungi. His
lectures to the Royal College of Surgeons on ergot (BMJ 1892;i:500-1) and the action of fungi on the human body (BMJ 1893;i:304)
were delivered when he was president of the British Mycological Society. His
wide ranging interests also included Neolithic man in West Norfolk, and woad as a blue dye, both subjects of presentations to the
Norfolk Naturalists Society and reprinted in their transactions (April 1881
and April 1900)."
"He was primarily a general practitioner, with additional
roles as medical officer, physician, surgeon, and naturalist. In each role
his diagnostic skills depended on a "seeing eye" and an inquiring
mind; his writings demanded a descriptive and analytical talent; he recognised that the discipline of communicating his
observations and thoughts to others enhanced his own pleasure and
understanding. His life shows that a multiplicity of interests with cross fertilisation of ideas is a recipe for long lasting
"Like other Victorian polymaths, his personal life does not
emerge in his writings, but he was both purchaser and provider of health care
services, and I wonder how he managed. He was never rich, but when he decided
to retire he doubled his fees, which he sent out at the end of each year.
This had no effect on his practice so the following year he doubled them
again, following which he was able to devote more time to his hobbies."
PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):
Drysdale, C. R., Charles J. Power, Mr. Walsh, M. B. Shirley, C. B. Plowright,
and S. H. Lindeman (1883) Reports of
hospital and surgical practice in the hospitals and asylums of Great Britain
and Ireland. British Medical Journal
Plowright, Charles B. (1883-1884) Mahonia aquifolia as a nurse of the wheat mildew (Puccinia graminis). Proc. of the Royal Society of London
Plowright, Charles B. (1883-1884) On the life history of the Dock
Aecidium (Aecidium rumicis,
Proc. of the Royal Society of London 36: 47-50.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884) Note on Aecidium bellidis. Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 11(3): 32.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884) Aecidium bellidis. Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 11(6): 64-65.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884) Aecidium jacobeae. Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 11(8): 93-94.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884) The fungi of Norfolk. Wertheimer, Lee and Co.
Plowright, Charles B. (1885) On the distribution of calculous
disease in Norfolk. British Medical
Journal 2(1297): 863.
Plowright, Charles B. (1886) Some remarks upon ergot. British Medical Journal 1(1309): 197-198.
Plowright, Charles B. (1889) A Monograph of the British Uredineae and Ustilagineae. With an Account of Their Biology Including
the Methods of Observing the Germination of Their Spores and of Their
Experimental Culture. Illustrated with woodcuts and eight plates. London.
Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1 Paternoster Square.
Plowright, Chares B. (1889)
New parasitic fungi.
Gard. Chron., Nov. 2, 1889, p. 506.
Plowright, Charles B. (1891) New British fungus. Gard. Chron., Sept. 26th, 1891,
Plowright, C. B. (1892)
Abstract of a lecture on ergot.
British Medical Journal 1(1627):
Plowright, C. B. (1893)
Experimental researches on the life history of certain Uredineae.
Grevillea, June 1893, pp. 109-110.
Plowright, C. B. (1893)
Abstract of three lectures on the action of fungi on the human
body. British Medical Journal
Plowright, Charles B. (1894) The fungus kingdom. Phycomycetes;
Ascomycetes; Basiomycetes; Hymenomycetes. British Medical Journal 1(1730): 404-405.
Plowright, Charles B. (1896) On an epidemic of jaundice in King’s
Lynn, 1895.British Medical Journal 1(1848):
Plowright, C. B. (1898)
On the epidemic of enteric fever at King’s Lynn, October, 1897. An analysis of 50 cases. British Medical Journal 1(1942): 770-772.
Plowright, Charles B. (1904) Notes on the distribution of cancer
in the Freebrdige Lynn Rural District. British Medical Journal 1(2245): 72.
Plowright, Charles B. (1905) Remarks on poisoning by fungi: Amanita phalloides. British Medical Journal 2 (2332): 541-542.
Plowright, Charles B. (1905) Eriksson’s recent researches on the
vegetative life of the Cereal Rust.
The British Mycological Society:
Transactions 2(3): 76-79.
Plowright, Charles B. and W. Thomson (?date?) On the life-history of the Aecidium on Paris quadrifolia. Journal of Linn. Soc., Bot., No. 205, vo.
30, pp. 43-44.
1. “Charles Bagge
Plowright” Wikipedia, accessed on 26 May 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bagge_Plowright
2. “Charles Bagge
Plowright M.D.: A Victorian Polymath,
accessed on 26 May 2016. http://www.auspostalhistory.com/articles/1878.shtml
3. “King’s Lynn” Wikipedia, accessed on 26 May