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Robert McKenzie Cross: Botanical Explorer, Kew Gardens

Chinchona : Later Trips to South America

Home | Forgotten Legend : Tribute to Robert Cross- Sample | Further Reading : Some Books, Journals and Web Sites | Early Life in Kilmaronock Loch Lomondside 1830s and 1840s | While Robert entered Kew Gardens, London 1850s his siblings flew the nest too! | Chronology : The Years Robert Cross spent at Home and Abroad | Chinchona Missions : First Trip to South America 1859 | Robert Cross's Report on his travel to South America in 1860 | Spruce's Journal First Chinchona Mission | Chinchona : Later Trips to South America | Rubber Trees : Mission to South America 1876 | Para Rubber Images | Clements Markham, Richard Spruce and Henry Wickham | Achievements of Robert Cross | Publications of Robert M Cross | Last Years at West Cottage Torrance of Campsie | Last Will and Testament of Robert McKenzie Cross



It appears from Markham's notes that Dr Taylor was first attached to Spruce in order to carry out collecting
chinchona seeds at Loxa. Markham says in Peruvian Bark :

....Owing to the unavoidable abandonment of Mr Spruce's intention of sending Dr Taylor to collect seeds of C Condamnea at Loxa, one portion of my scheme for introducing all the valuable species into India remained incomplete at the close of 1860.

On my return from India, therefore in May 1861, I obtained the sanction of the Secretary of State for India to take measures for obtaining a supply of seeds from the Loxa forests.

Mr CROSS, the gardener who had so ably assisted Mr Spruce and shared his labours after safely depositing the collection of seeds and plants in India had returned to South America attracted by the richness and variety of the flora of the Andes.

Having acquired experience of the people and language of the localities where chimbona trees are found and the mode of travelling, during his former visit, he possessed the necessary qualificationns and as Mr Spruce was too ill to undertake the work it was entrusted to MR CROSS, who performed it with expedition and success. He is an excellent practical gardener, intelligent and persevering, ardently devoted to his profession And is thoroughly trust-worthy



George King of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Calcutta,
refers to the second mission as follows :

MR CROSS returned to South America and was commissioned to procure seeds of the pale bark in the forests near Loxa.

MR CROSS started from Guayaquil in September 1861 and after much hardship with exposure in the mountains near Loxa he succeeded in returning to that port after ittle more than 2 months absence with in excess of 100,000 seeds of Cinchona
Chahuarguera and a smaller parcel of Cinchona Crispa.

These seeds he forwarded to India by way of Southampton.


Robert Cross wrote a detailed report on the 2nd trip - parts of which will be included on this site in due course.

Other details of the later Chinchona missions will appear here in due course.




A number of items appear about Robert Cross in the correspondence files of the Consulate Offices - and early diplomatic missions - in various South American countries.

Often these are about advancing money to Robert Cross for the purchase of goods - or the hire of mules - or labour. Reference is also made to letters of introduction and letters of safe passage. There was a small network of Europeans who could provide contacts and often safe lodgings in the townships anyway. Some of these documents survive and are available in the National Archives ( formerly the Public Record Office ) at Kew.

Several of the letters written by Cross himself to Kew Gardens are in their Archive Collection.

Mount Cotopaxi

An active volcano, 19,347 ft (5,897 m) high, N central Ecuador. A symmetrical snowcapped cone in the Andes, it is one of the highest volcanoes in the world. It is continuously active, and frequent eruptions have caused severe damage. Cotopaxi was first scaled by Wilhelm Reiss in 1872.

In one of Robert Cross's report to refers to meeting Reiss enroute to this historic climb!!!

Inca Gold

A certificate in the family held by Murial More, a great grand-daughter of Elizabeth Cross of Cadder, a sister of Robert Cross, started an enquiry about a presentation by Robert Cross to the then Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art.

The Museum was later named the Royal Scottish Museum at Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF.

They confirmed from their Annual report for 1884 that Robert Cross of Cramond, Edinburgh had presented the Museum with a piece of Inca gold.

The correspondence records:

We do have a cast gold pendant given by Robert Cross in 1884. The pendant, registration number 1884.12, is in the form of a bird headed god. It is 1 1/8ins high, and is in the Sinu style, which was current in Colombia between AD1000 and 1500. The pendant has been on exhibition in the Museum's gallery of Ancient American Art.

Other Records

The Archive of the India Office ( now part of the British Library Archive ) contains a huge amount of written material
on the chinchona expeditions, and various reports and statistics regarding cultivation in India.

Documents held in the family

The late Marie Cross ( Margaret Brown Cross ), who was connected by marriage via her late husband Herbert Paterson Cross, and earlier ties to Gerald Hugh Paterson Cross and William Paterson Cross - brother of Robert - provided the compiler of this site with copies of various instructions that were received by Robert Cross - mostly on the eve or in preparation for one trip or other. In all Robert Cross went to South America on separate missions. Details from these letters will be produced on this site in due course.


Other Data

There are a large number of other sources of material.

Details will appear here in due course.

Robert Cross's story would make a really great film - next time you see pictures from one of the world's rain forests - just think how horrendous it must have been for him making a path through that inpenetrable environment - Robert Cross always carried an umbrella in the forests - a large black umbrella - it served him well - as he records - to shade from the killer heat rays as well as to divert the many deadly spiders and snakes that got in his walking range.....

Robert McKenzie Cross of Kew Gardens