Catherine Alexander (botanist)

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Catherine Alexander (married name Rowe, 8 December 1862 – 17 March 1928) was a New Zealand botanist, and the first known woman to publish a paper in the Royal Society Te Apārangi's Transactions in 1886.



Alexander was born in Kaiapoi in December 1862, [1] to George and Mary Ann Alexander. George Alexander was a baker. She received her education at the day school belonging to St Luke's Church in Christchurch. [2] She then studied at Canterbury College, and she received an Exhibition Scholarship towards her botany honours degree work. [3] She graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1885 and then worked at Christchurch Girls' High School as an assistant teacher until her marriage. [2] Her paper on ngaio (a small New Zealand native tree), "Observations on the Glands in the Leaf and Stem of Myoporum lætum, Forster" appeared in the Royal Society's Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. Three more papers by women, Annette Wilson, Miss Morrison, and Katherine Browning, followed in 1892. [4] By the time her paper was read before the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1886, Alexander was teaching at high school. [3]

In August 1886, Alexander married Thomas Rowe in Addington, Christchurch, a teacher. Francis Haslam, one of Alexander's professors at Canterbury College, witnessed the ceremony. [5] They had four children and lost one son in WWI. Her husband died suddenly on 1 February 1928. [6] Having never recovered from the shock of her husband's death, [2] she died six weeks later on 17 March. They are both buried at Christchurch's Linwood Cemetery. [7] [8]

In 2017, Alexander was selected as one the Royal Society of New Zealand's "150 women in 150 words". [3]


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  1. "Birth Search". Department of Internal Affairs . Retrieved 21 December 2019. Registration number 1863/31
  2. 1 2 3 "Obituary". The Press . LXIV (19264). 20 March 1928. p. 2. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 "Catherine Alexander". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  4. "Katherine Browning". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  5. "ROWE.Christchurch.City.Library.BMD". Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  6. "Obituary: Mr T. W. Rowe". The Press . LXIV (19224). 2 February 1928. p. 7. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  7. "Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  8. "Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  9. "Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 1886 [electronic resource]". Retrieved 2019-10-11.