Hutchins, Ellen (1785–1815), cryptogamic botanist, was born 17 March 1785 in Ballylickey, Co. Cork, one of the youngest among twenty-one children of Thomas Hutchins (d. 1787) and Elinor Hutchins (née Hutchins); two daughters and four sons survived to adulthood. The family's status was derived from its landed estates, but its income was supplemented by fishing and by smuggling activities in Bantry Bay. Ellen’s father died when she was two, but her brothers were educated for learned professions; the daughters were also well educated. In Ellen's late teens a family friend, Dr Whitley Stokes (qv), took her to live in his household in Harcourt St., Dublin, where he could provide treatment for her poor health; she suffered all her life from digestive problems. There she was introduced to Stokes's favourite science, botany, and to a number of leading scientists, including James Townsend Mackay (qv). Stokes recommended that she spend as much time as possible in the open air; and though her health was never good, on her return to Cork to live with her aged mother and her invalid brother Thomas she became an avid and expert collector of plants, especially the mosses, bryophytes, fungi, and lichens that flourished round the family home on Bantry Bay. She compiled a list of over 1,100 species of plants found in her area, and collected many rarities, plants not previously recorded in the British Isles, and several new to science. She sent carefully preserved specimens and competent paintings of her finds to leading practitioners in England and Ireland; several commented admiringly on her abilities to find and preserve all kinds of plants. Her generosity was also noted; her visitors in Ballylickey included the naturalists Lewis Weston Dillwyn and Joseph Woods, who reported that she ‘gives most liberally, parting even with her last specimen’. Plants she identified are included in Mackay's Flora Hibernica (1836), and she sent a great deal of material to the English botanist Dawson Turner. His Muscologiae Hibernicae speciosum (1804), the first book to concentrate on Irish mosses, contained accounts of specimens contributed by Hutchins. They engaged in correspondence over seven years, sending each other plant material as well as many letters; it was clearly an important and rewarding exchange for both. Though she never herself published, she eventually agreed, on her brother's advice, to allow her name to be associated with a number of specimens described in works published by men she had assisted, for instance in Turner's Fuci (1808–19), which included seven of her drawings. Her name was also given by her colleagues to a number of newly recorded plants, especially lichens, and to a genus of alpine plants. Plants she collected are to be found in herbaria elsewhere, including that in UCC.
After a lengthy struggle within the family about the disposition of properties after her father's death intestate, and after a legal battle with her eldest brother Emanuel, Ellen and her mother were forced to leave Ballylickey (1813), and (after a short stay in Bandon) moved to Ardnagashel, near Bantry Bay, to live with another brother. Ellen's mother died in 1814; Ellen herself died 9 February 1815, and was buried in Bantry. She was one of the earliest Irish women scientists, still remembered with respect by bryologists. She left in her will the bulk of her collection to Dawson Turner; though its transmission to Turner was threatened by further family disputes, her specimens and records are still preserved in his herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden in Kew, London.