Dr Richard Nowotny, 23 Aug 2003, posed two questions, the second being:
> 2. A much more prosaic matter: Is it correct that the name "rosellas" is a
> corruption of "Rose Hillers" after the early Botany Bay locale, and
> present-day Sydney suburb, of Rose Hill where they were commonly seen by
> early naturalists and travellers between Sydney Cove and (?)
> Parramatta? If not, what is the correct origin of the name?
Yes, Rose Hill it is. The Angus and Robertson Australian Encyclopaedia of
about 40 years ago (before that publisher sold out to Grolier who grossly
reduced it, especially in natural history content) has this entry:
"ROSELLA, a derivation of "Rose Hill parrot", the name given by early
settlers in Australia to a beautiful and common bird, Platycercus eximus,
frequently seen in the district of Parramatta, then known as Rose Hill
(sometimes spelt Rosehill) in honour of George Rose, a secretary of the
British Treasury. From "Rose Hill parrot" to "Rosehiller" and then rosella
were easy transitions, and in time the last-mentioned term became widely
familiar. It is now used in ornithology for all members of the genus
Platycercus (see PARROTS).
"AHC" who wrote that entry was, of course, Alexander Hugh Chisholm (Alec
Chisholm), author, editor, historian and a pretty good bird man, who, as a
young journalist some 80 years ago, learnt much of his natural history from
my mother, a debt he was ever quick to fail to acknowledge. He was also
Editor-in-Chief for that encyclopaedia. So I can perhaps be forgiven (in
using my steam-hammer to crack a nut) for suggesting that you can't get much
better authority than that for the origin of the name.
Syd Curtis in Brisbane.
P.S. For non-Sydney-siders like me, who don't memorise all the scientific
names of birds, (I had to look it up), eximus is the Eastern Rosella. And a
very beautiful bird it is too. I hope George Rose was worthy of the honour.
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