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Worldwide Murder Mysteries. / Writings · 24 February 2024

Worldwide Murder Mysteries. Botanist.

Canadian botanist Charles Budd Robinson was born in Nova Scotia in 1871. After holding a few positions both in his native country and in New York, Robinson took a post in Manila. He enjoyed traveling to exotic locations in search of new species of plants, and the numerous islands of Southeast Asia made it easy for him to indulge his passion.

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In December 1913, Robinson left on a botanical expedition of Ambon in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. He was never heard from again. While his ultimate fate remains a mystery, we have an idea of what likely befell him due to a report by Mr. van Dissel, Assistant Resident of Ambon.

He tried to piece together Robinson’s last days by relying mostly on oral accounts. According to van Dissel, the botanist traveled to a remote part of the island where a group of natives mistook him for a headhunter and killed him.[3]

One popular but unsubstantiated legend that arose following Robinson’s death said that he died due to a simple lexicological confusion. Seeing a young boy in a coconut tree, the doctor asked the boy to cut him down a fruit. However, with his poor understanding of the Malay language, Robinson accidentally used the word kepala (“head”) instead of kelapa (“coconut”), which is why the locals thought he was a headhunter.

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