JAMES MOTLEY (1822-1859) THE LIFE STORY OF A COLLECTOR AND NATURALIST A. R. WALKER Research into the life of James Motley has been particularly difficult because all his records were destroyed in Borneo when he was killed in 1859. His life as a young man in South Wales is not well documented and no family letters or photographs have yet been discovered. The dates stated throughout this article are based on the best existing references but they are still subject to scrutiny. Motley arrived in South Wales from Leeds about 1840 when he was 18 years old, and his first home may have been somewhere near Aberafon. Here he trained as a mining engineer and surveyor, possibly starting as an apprentice in one of the coal- mines nearby, we do not know where. His prowess as a naturalist is better documented. James Motley was a prodigious collector and recorder of natural history items. His life can be separated into two entirely different categories, life in South Wales and life in Borneo where he went in 1849. Thanks to his letters from Borneo to Sir William Hooker' at Kew and his friendship with Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn we know a considerable amount about his adventures in South East Asia. James Motley died one day before his 37th birthday. THE MOTLEY FAMILY IN SOUTH WALES The Motley2 family originated from the Leeds area where there are many branches dating from 1582. A preference for the Christian names of Thomas and James with- out a second name has caused a great deal of confusion. There are for instance four- teen Thomas Motleys listed since the 16th Century. By the late 18th Century the South Wales iron industry was fast becoming the largest in the world. The Maesteg Ironworks attracted a number of English investors in the early 1800s; these included Thomas Motley3 from Leeds, Henry Fussell from Warminster and William Buckland from Reading. They also invested in a new company, the Dyffryn Llyni and Porthcawl Railway Company. By 1828 a blast furnace in Maesteg and the Railway were in operation. In the 1830s the Maesteg works had close links with Robert Smith & Company, of the Margam tin works. When Smith died the original investors traded as Motley, Fussell and Company from 1841 to 1843, owning both the Maesteg site and the Margam tin works. There were 500 workers in Maesteg and 396 in Margam so these were big investments.
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