Ref NoMS/397
TitleCorrespondence relating to the Linnean Society Bye-laws controversy - Henry Trimen and others
AdminHistoryHenry Trimen (1843-1896) was a botanist.

Trimen was born on 26 October 1843 at 3 Park Place Villas, Maida Vale, London, to Richard and Marinne Trimen. Like his older brother, Roland Trimen (1840-1916), who went on to become an entomologist, Henry Trimen developed an early interest in natural history. He would spend his summer holidays collecting specimens and visiting the Botanical Department of the British Museum in order to determine his findings. He attended King's College School in London and then, in order to do further biological training, he studied medicine at the Medical School at King's College, London, in 1860, graduating in 1865. He briefly worked as medical officer during a cholera epidemic in the Strand but soon determined that botany was his passion. From 1867-1876 he worked as the botanical lecturer at St. Mary's Hospital and from 1870-1876 he was the editor of the 'Journal of Botany'. In 1869 Trimen was appointed Assistant in the Botanical Department of the British Museum. Trimen was a Fellow of the Royal Society from 1888 and a Fellow of the Linnean Society from 1866. He served on the Council of the Linnean Society when certain reforms were made, leading to discussions amongst the Fellows as a body, and the retirement of George Bentham as President.

In 1876 Trimen moved to Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) to work as director of the Royal Botanic Gardens (now the Botanical Garden of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka). He worked there for 16 years until his death in 1896. Whilst there he rearranged the gardens, was visited by fellow botanists, and also worked on 'The Flora of Ceylon' which was finished by others after his death. He died in Kandy, Sri Lanka, on 16 October 1896.
The byelaws scandal at the Linnean Society developed as a result of a dispute between President George Bentham and Council member Henry Trimen over altering the byelaws of the Linnean Society. In a Council meeting held in July 1873 Bentham proposed hiring a Fellow to do some editorial work of the Society’s publications, but Trimen pointed out that this would go against the society’s byelaws, which prohibited Fellows from holding a paid position within the Society.

Bentham indicated in a letter to Trimen that asking someone to do this work was no different from hiring a printer or engraver and that the byelaws should be repealed. Trimen responded by saying that the work should be carried out by the Society’s secretaries. However, in a council meeting on the 4th December 1873 Bentham put forward the motion to repeal the byelaws so that Fellows could be employed to do salaried work and the election of the Librarian would be voted on by the Council only. Trimen was completely opposed to the changes and had discussed the issue with other Fellows, including William Carruthers. The alterations were put forward again in a General Meeting on 15th January 1874 in which Fellows would vote on whether to implement them. However, Carruthers and H.G. Seeley put forward the motion that the proposed alterations should be put to separate votes, but this motion was denied by Bentham and the vote took place with 44 Fellows voting in favour of the changes and 21 against.

Carruthers and other Fellows felt that Bentham had acted illegally and so they had consulted a member of the Queen’s Counsel who supported their case. A letter signed by Carruthers and 12 other Fellows was presented to the Council Meeting held on the 5th February 1874 in which they protested the changes and threatened to reopen the question of the alterations in the General Meeting being held that night. Bentham suggested he would resign from the Presidency at the next Anniversary Meeting, but did not accept the accusations that he had acted illegally. It was decided that the council would write back to Carruthers explaining that the question could not be reopened at such a short notice, but if at least ten fellows desired it then a special meeting would take place to discuss the question.

In the General Meeting the minutes from the previous meeting were read and before Bentham could sign them Carruthers rose to submit his question. Bentham declared that this action was irregular, signed the minutes and stated that the Council was willing to hold a special meeting if enough members were in favour of it. However, Carruthers insisted that he had the right to raise a question under another byelaw and motioned that the alterations made in the last General Meeting were illegal and therefore the proceedings from the previous meeting were null and void. Bentham denied this motion and put forward a motion on whether they should discuss the meeting. After a show of hands Bentham proclaimed he had a majority against the motion, but he was challenged on this and after a second vote it was shown that 15 were in favour of a discussion with 11 against. As a result of this Bentham left the chair, which consequently broke up the meeting and he handed in his resignation the following day.
DescriptionCorrespondence to and from Dr Henry Trimen, dated 1873-1874:

N.B. If the addressee is other than Trimen the name is shown in brackets. Numbers at the start of the lines indicate page numbers in the bound book.

3. 1873 Jul 4. London. To appoint an Editor will necessitate a change in the Bye-Laws; A Special Council Meeting will be convened for this purpose.

4. 1873 Jul 5. London. (To G. Bentham) Does not think an editor should be appointed.
5. 1874 Jan 15. London. (To W.T.T. Dyer., Copy) Unhappy that the Bye-Laws had been changed in order to appoint an Editor; nonetheless he congratulates Dyer on being appointed.

6. 1874 Feb 16. Kew. Explains why he refused to accept the Editorship. [For a full explanation see Gage & Stearn's History of the Linn. Soc., pp. 68-69]

9. 1874 Jan 16. Kew. Very concerned that Henry Trimen, whilst still on Council, tried to persuade Fellows to overthrow Council decisions.

10. 1874 Jan 19. London. [To Hooker, J.D., Copy] Explains that his reasons for opposing changes in Bye-Laws that forbid payments to Fellows are well known; believes he acted honestly.

12. 1874 Jan 22. London. Hopes that Henry Trimen's action against Council's decision is confined to few Fellows.

13. 1874 Jan 23. London. Acknowledges importances of Henry Trimen's note; it will receive best attention.

14. 1874 Jan 22. London. (To Miers, J., Copy) Refers to his action as member of Council; sends copy of Hooker's letter.

15. 1874 Jan 23. London. Appreciates Henry Trimen's feelings and at next Council Meeting will oppose any attempt to censure him.

16. 1874 Jan 21. London. (To Oliver, D., Copy) Encloses copy of Hooker's letter; does not recognize Hooker's right to lecture him; asks only that his genuine feelings be fairly considered.

17. 1874 Jan 24. Kew. Sorry for delay in answering but would rather talk to Henry Trimen than put pen to paper.

18. 1874 21 Jan. London. (To Mivart, St. G.J., Copy) About Council decision and the new salaried offices; the consequences.

19. 1874 Feb 11. San Reno. Had not attended Council Meeting; agrees that Henry Trimen was entitled to give an opinion outside Council.

20. 1874 Jan 28. Kew. Inclined to agree with Hooker's view that Council decisions should publicly be supported by all members of Council.

21. 1874 Jan 29. London. (To Dyer, W.T.T.) Does not regret his past action.

22. 1874 Feb 7. Kew. Concerned that the last Society Meeting had become a "bear garden" under Benham's chairmanship.

24. 1874 Feb 11. London. [The President having resigned, a privately printed notice with suggestions about changing the Bye-Laws]

25. 1874 Feb 13. Kew. Views so much at variance with Henry Trimen that there is no point in discussing printed circular.

26. 1874 Feb 14. London. (To Hooker, J.D., Copy) Had resented Hooker's ex cathedra condemnation of Henry Trimen's action; personal views must be allowed to differ.

28. 1874 Feb 15. Kew. Henry Trimen did not indicate that circular had been despatched to members of Council; he must not be surprised at Hooker's reactions, past and present.

31. 1874 Feb 18. London. (To Hooker, J.D., Copy) Explains the reasons for his feelings and actions.

35. 1874 Feb 26. Kew. Explains at greater length the difference of opinion between him and Henry Trimen.

38. 1874 Feb 27. London. (To Hooker, J.D., Copy) The greatest detail of what he did and why. Not surprised at Hooker's sarcastic tone in his letter.
40. 1874 Mar 5. London. (To Currey, F., Copy) Hopes that at the next Council Meeting Currey will bring draft of Council resolution; Henry Trimen will question accuracy of Minutes.

41. 1874 Feb 21. Kew. Does not think his paper on Dipterocarpus will be too long for the April number; Society politics.
42. 1874 Feb 24. Kew. Society politics and the Bye-Laws.

44. 1874 Mar 9. London. [To Dyer, W.T.T., Copy] Appalled by Council suggesting the dispute about the Bye-Laws be referred to legal arbitration rather than be settled by a Society Committee.

45. 1874 Mar 9. Kew. Stresses it is the Council's business to legislate; decisions should not be taken out of their hands.

46. 1874 Mar 10. London. Draft of resolution will be entered into Council Minutes; any member of Council can query its accuracy.

47. 1874 Apr 9. Kew. Thinks it wrong for Henry Trimen to ventilate his feelings in the Journal.

48. 1874 Apr 9. London. (To Dyer, W.T.T.) Denies he was trying to create a breach between Council and Fellows at the General Meeting.

49. 1874 Apr 12. Kew. Upset that M. Vesque has published new species of Dipterocarpus in the Comptes Rendus; still unhappy about Henry Trimen's article in the Journal.
52. 1874 Apr 19. Kew. Accuses Henry Trimen of using language in a letter that sounds like violent rage; Henry Trimen's article in the Journal was inaccurate.

54. 1874 Jul 22. London. "In the Matter of the Linnean Society Copy of Lord Hatherley's Opinion." [The opinion is in favour of Council]
55. "Part of an original draft of Bentham, by Jackson. It was not printed." [Comment in pencil]
60. [Typed article, no heading, no signature; comment in pencil that the article was submitted by Dr Dayden Jackson to Sir Joseph Hooker. It was printed in Jackson's Bentham. Article is about Bentham's resignation as President and the Society's difficulties.]
60. (on reverse) "Extracts from two private letters to Mr Trimen, 10th Jan. and 7th Feb. 1874."
Extent37 letters in 1 bound volume
Related MaterialMS/134a; Gage & Stearn's History of the Linn. Soc., pp. 68-69
NotesN.B. Many letters occupy more than one page in the book; this accounts for "missing" page numbers.

Transcribed by J. Sellick.
Creator NameTrimen, Henry and Linnean Society of London
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