Margaretta Riley

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Margaretta Riley, née Hopper (May 4, 1804 - July 16, 1899) was an English botanist. She studied ferns and was the first British pteridologist of her sex.


She was born in Castle Gate, Nottingham on 4 May 1804 to Richard and Margaretta Hopper.[1] She married John Riley in 1826, agent for the Montague family in Papplewick, north of Nottingham, where she lived for the rest of her life.[1]

Margaretta Riley and her husband worked together as pteridologists studying ferns. They were both members of the Botanical Society of London − he from 1838, and she from 1839 on. [2]

She discontinued her botanical research when she was widowed in 1846.


The Riley (crater) on the planet Venus was named after her.[3]


Publications by Margaretta Riley include:

  • On the British Genus Cystea (1839)
  • On growing ferns from seed, with suggestions upon their cultivations and preparing the speciments (1839)
  • Polypodium, Dryopteris and calcareum (1841)


  1. ^ a b Ellis, Mavis (2 May 2004). "Margaretta ("Meta") Riley". Claves Regni. St Peter's Church, Nottingham. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  2. ^ Allen, D. E. (1978). Dyce, J. W., ed. "The First Woman Pteridologist". The Bulletin. The British Pteridological Society. 1 (6): 247–9. Retrieved 17 July 2017 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "PIA00266: Venus - Oblique View of Crater Riley". JPL Photojournal. JPL. 14 March 1996. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  • Mary R. S. Creese: Ladies in the Laboratory? American and British Women in Science, 1800-1900: A Survey of their Contributions to Research, London 1998
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