The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Swainson, William
Swainson, William, F.R.S., F.L.S., was born at Liverpool, England, in 1788, and early displayed a taste for botanical and natural history researches. Quitting a position in the Liverpool Custom House, he entered the commissariat department of the Treasury, and in 1807 was stationed in Sicily with the English army garrisoning that island. Here he studied the local botany and zoology, and subsequently made researches in Greece and Italy, returning to England at the peace. He then retired on half -pay as Assistant Commissary-General, and visited various then scarcely explored parts of South America, where he formed a large collection of birds. Returning to England, he was elected F.R.S., and undertook to edit the department of natural history for Lardner's "Cabinet Cyclopædia," to which he contributed a number of volumes on various subjects. In 1837 he emigrated to New Zealand, and was employed to make a survey of the forests and trees of Van Diemen's Land and to report thereon. Mr. Swainson died at the Hutt Valley, Wellington, N.Z., on Dec. 6th, 1855.