Hannah English Williams
Hannah English Williams (?-1722), a naturalist, is considered the first female in the British American colonies to gather plants and animals for scientific study.
After the death of her first husband, Hannah was given a total of 1,000 acres of land near Stony Poynt. She collected plants and animals from 1701 to 1713. Hannah Williams was recruited by James Petiver of England to collect natural history specimens in Charles Towne, South Carolina. She wrote to Petiver that she was sending him vipers, snakes, scorpions, lizards, shells, and a bee’s nest made of wood. She requested that he send her paper so that she could send him plant specimens. In 1701 she sent a collection of butterflies, two of which Petiver named for her, “Yellow Tipt Carolina Butterfly” (renamed “Dog’s Head”) and “Selvedge Eyed Carolina Butterfly” (renamed “Creole Pearly Eye”). Hannah also included collections of Indian items such as “King’s Tobacco Pipe,” a “Queen’s Petticoat” made of moss, Indian herbs and medicines.