Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Angas, George French

ANGAS, GEORGE FRENCH (1822–1886), artist and zoologist, born on 25 April 1822 in the county of Durham, was the eldest son of George Fife Angas [q. v.], by his wife, Rosetta French (d. 11 Jan. 1867). Some years after his birth his family removed to Dawlish in Devonshire, where he first collected seaside specimens and acquired a taste for conchology. He was educated at Tavistock, and placed by his father in business in London. Disliking commercial pursuits, he resolved to travel and turn to account his natural taste for drawing. After visiting Malta and wandering through Sicily in the autumn of 1841, he published a description of his journey in 1842, dedicated to Queen Adelaide, and entitled ‘A Ramble in Malta and Sicily’ (London, 4to). The book was illustrated from his own sketches.

To perfect himself as a draughtsman, in 1842, he studied anatomical drawing in London, and also learned the art of lithography. In September 1843 he went to South Australia, a colony of which his father was one of the founders. There he joined several of (Sir) George Grey’s expeditions, and made sketches in water colours of the scenery, aborigines, and natural history of South Australia. Proceeding to New Zealand, he travelled over eight hundred miles on foot in the wildest regions, and made sketches of the country as he journeyed. Returning to England, he published his sketches in 1849 in two imperial folio volumes, entitled ‘South Australia Illustrated’ and ‘The New Zealanders Illustrated,’ and also wrote an account of his travels under the title ‘Savage Life in Australia and New Zealand’ (London, 1847, 2 vols. 12mo). He next spent two years in South Africa, and published the result of his labours in 1849 in another imperial folio work, ‘The Kaffirs Illustrated.’ Several of the original drawings have been purchased for the print-room of the British Museum.

Soon afterwards Angas was appointed naturalist to the Turko-Persian boundary commission, but after reaching Turkey he was invalided home. In 1849 he returned to South Australia. When the ‘gold fever’ broke out in the following year, he accompanied one of the first parties to the Ophir diggings, and made many sketches, published in London as ‘Views of the Gold Regions of Australia’ (London, 1851, fol.) After visiting other diggings, he settled at Sydney, where he obtained the post of director and secretary of the government museum. This appointment he held for more than seven years, returning to South Australia on his retirement. Three years later he went home to England with his wife and family. In his later years he wrote tales of adventure and travel for various journals, besides a long series of articles on ‘Commercial Natural History,’ which appeared in the ‘Colonies and India.’ On 3 May 1866 he was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society. He was also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Zoological Society. He died on 8 Oct. 1886. In 1849 he married Alicia Mary Moran, by whom he had four daughters.

Besides the works already mentioned he published:

  1. ‘Polynesia; a Popular Description … of the Islands of the Pacific,’ London, 1866, 8vo.
  2. The Wreck of the Admella, and other Poems,’ London, 1874, 8vo.
He illustrated Agricola’s ‘Description of the Barossa Range’ (1849), John McDouall Stuart’s ‘Explorations in Australia’ (1864), and John Forrest’s ‘Explorations in Australia’ (1875). He also contributed a number of papers on mollusca and on several Australian mammalia to the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society.’

[Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, July 1887, pp. 33–4; Hodder’s George Fife Angas, 1891, pp. 286, 293; Burke’s Colonial Gentry, ii. 649; Royal Soc. Cat. Scientific Papers.]

E. I. C.