Create your own conference schedule! Click here for full instructions

Abstract Detail


Flannery, Maura C. [1].

Humphry Marshall and the Pennsylvania Botanical Circle.

Humphry Marshall (1722-1801) published his Arbustrum Americanum: The American Grove in 1785 in Philadelphia, making it the first botanical book written by a native-born American on American plants and produced in America. Marshall was a Quaker who lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania and was encouraged to investigate botany by his cousin, John Bartram (1699-1777). In the 1840s, another West Chester native and botanist, William Darlington (1782-1863), was entrusted with both Marshall’s and Bartram’s correspondence. He had intended to write about these men for years, since discussing the project with his friend and fellow Pennsylvania botanist, William Baldwin, before the latter’s death in 1819.
It is difficult to treat any of these individuals without tugging on an intricate web of relationships among them. However, in this presentation I'll focus on Marshall and why Darlington saw him as significant enough to include Marshall in his memorial of John Bartram. Like his cousin, Marshall collected plants and seeds and sent them to Europe, making a business of his botanical hobby. His nephew Moses Marshall joined him in this endeavor, and they went on collecting trips to broaden their stock. Humphrey Marshall not only wrote about North American trees but grew many of them in the botanical garden he started to develop on his property in 1773 and left was left to Moses Marshall. While the garden is long gone, the house survives and is part of an historic district called Marshallton.
Examining the lives of those interested in botany in the early years of the Republic enlivens American history in a way that is relevant to today’s environmental concerns. It also suggests the importance of webs of relationships in maintaining interest and commitment to plants. It should be noted that among the individuals in this Pennsylvania web were Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who both owned copies of Marshall’s book. He also corresponded with such notables of British botany as Joseph Banks and John Fothergill.
As we work to preserve native species that are rapidly moving toward extinction, it behooves us to also nurture historical memory because the two are inextricably linked. For example, Moses Marshall went in search of the tree that John Bartram had discovered, Franklinia Alatamaha. The expedition to Carolina and Georgia in 1790 yielded specimens of the species from along the banks of the Alatamaha River, but it hasn’t been found in the wild since 1803.

Log in to add this item to your schedule

1 - 28 Atlas Ave., Malverne, NY, 11565, USA

Humphry Marshall
John Bartram
botanical history

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 34, Historical Section Contributed Papers
Location: 200/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
Time: 3:45 PM
Number: 34001
Abstract ID:531
Candidate for Awards:None

Copyright © 2000-2016, Botanical Society of America. All rights reserved