About RSWA
  History of RSWA

History of The Royal Society of Western Australia

Patron: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Vice Patrons: Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia and Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE, WA Chief Scientist (2006-2013)

The RSWA has had a varied development from a small unnamed natural history society in the late 19th century, primarily interested in the natural fauna of the state, to today’s larger more diverse organisation.

The original scientific society was founded in 1891 and operated for about four years.  Sir John Forrest, early premier of Western Australia and well known naturalist was president of the society.  On 1st July 1897 inspired by the work of Baron von Mueller, the society was reformed into the Mueller Botanical Society.  The first president of the society was Mr E. J. Bickford and early members of the society included Dr Frank Tratman, Mr H. C. Princep, and Dr Alex Morrison.

As the Society’s membership grew so did it’s spheres of interest and in 1903 the society was renamed The West Australian Natural History Society to reflect this change.  Dr Frank Tratman became the president and chairman of the new society.  In August 1909 the society became the Natural History and Science Society of Western Australia.  In 1913 the society applied for both the right to call itself The Royal Society of Western Australia, and for Royal Patronage.  In November 1913 the right to use the name Royal Society was granted and this was followed early in 1914 by confirmation of the King’s willingness to act as patron of the society.

The approval from King George VI was conveyed to the society through the agency of the Western Australian Governor who became the vice-patron, and the King agreed to continue as the society’s patron, as has every monarch since.  In 1937 the society applied for and received permission to become incorporated.  In 2008 the society invited the WA Chief Scientist Professor Lyn Beazley to become a co vice-patron, a request that was graciously agreed to, and a position she kindly agreed to extending after she retired from the position of WA Chief Scientist in 2013.


Summers, L 1982 A guide to the minutes and correspondence Series of the Royal Society of Western Australia , Inc.  Diploma of Information Management Thesis, Archives Administration, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

For a comprehensive History, refer The Royal Society of Western Australia Journal Volume 97, Part 1, Pages 1 to 12, in an article “History and roles of the Royal Society of Western Australia”, authored by AWR Bevan and written in 2014 being the Society’s Centenary of establishment.