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BROWNE, Patrick.

(1720? – 1790)

(Born: Woodstock, Mayo, Ireland, 1720?; Died: Rushbrook, Mayo, Ireland, 29 September 1790) English botanist & naturalist.

Browne studied medicine in Paris, graduating from the University of Rheims in 1742. He found work at St. Thomas' Hospital, London. Subsequently, he moved to the Caribbean, where he lived in Antigua, Jamaica, Saint Croix and Montserrat, before retiring to County Mayo in 1771.

Biographical references: DNB: 7, 53. Journal of Botany: 1902, p. 139 & 1924, p. 351. Nissen (BBI): p. 25.

1. English, 1755 [First edition].
The civil and natural history of Jamaica. In three parts. Containing, I. An accurate description of that island ... with a brief account of its former and present state, government, revenues, produce, and trade. II. A history of the natural productions ... native fossils ... III. An account of the nature of climates in general, and their different effects upon the human body. By Patrick Browne, M.D. London, Printed for the author, and sold by T. Osborne and J. Shipton, 1756.

2°: [4], viii, 503, [2] p., one folding map of Jamaica, a rare large folding map of Kingston and 49 copperplates (38 of flora, 11 of fauna) by George Dionysius Ehret.

Very scarce. While a student, Browne began a lifelong correspondence with Linnaeus, who inspired his researches in natural science, especially botany. When he moved to the West Indies, he made his important observations on the flora, fauna and geology of the island of Jamaica. Sabin reports that the print-run of the first edition was limited to only 250 copies. "All the copperplates as well as the original drawings used in the work were consumed in the great fire in Cornhill 7 Nov. 1765" (DNB). Most of the plates were drawn by Georg Dionysius Ehret [1708-1770].

Facsimile reprint, 1972: The civil and natural history of Jamaica. New York, Arno Press, 1972. viii, 503 p. illus., fold. map. Published as part of the series, Research Library of Colonial Americana.

Bibliographical references: LKG: XIV 902. Plesch, Stifung für Botanik Auction, 1975-6: pp. 159-60. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: no. 1253. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 8670.

2. English, 1789 [2nd edition].
Civil and Natural History of Jamaica Containing I. An accurate Description of that Island, its Situation, and Soil; with a brief Accountof its former and present State, Government, Revenues, Produce, and Trade. II. An History of the Natural Productions, including the various Sorts of native Fossils; Perfect and Imperfect Vegetables; Quadrupeds, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, and Insects; with their Properties and Uses in Mechanics, Diet, and Physic. London, sold by B. White & Son, 1789.

2°: viii, 503, [48 (Linnaean Names, Index of Vegetables and Animals)] p., one folding map and 49 copper plates by George Dionysius Ehret. Errata following text. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Very scarce. Second illustrated edition, generally considered to be the best edition, with four addional indexes.Cundal Bibliographia Jamaicensis 416Patrick Browne was born c.1720 at Woodstock, Claremorris, Co. Mayo and died at Woodstock in his native county. The Brownes of Woodstock, near Crossboyne, were a minor branch of the Brownes of Castlemacgarrett. Patrick received, his early education in Mayo and at the age of sixteen was sent to live with a relative in Antigua, one of the English islands in the Caribbean, which at that time had a substantial number of Irish-born landowners. A year later he returned to Europe to study medicine at the University of Paris. He graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine and went to London where he practised in St. Thomas's Hospital before returning to the West Indies around 1746. After spending ten years in Jamaica making his living as a physician, he returned to England, and brought with him a substantial collection of dried and pressed plants, preserved fishes and other zoological specimens. While there he commissioned the renowned botanical artist Georg Dionysius Ehret to prepare the illustrations for his proposed book. The first edition was published on 10 March, 1756, as Browne himself tells us in a letter to Linnaeus. The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica is considered one of the greatest natural history books of the eighteenth century, and in many respects second only to the earliest works of Carl Linnaeus, who wrote of Browne ". you ought to be honoured with a Golden Statue". In this substantial work Browne catalogued Jamaican plants and animals, classified the rocks and soils, and recounted briefly the history of the island and its government. More than half the book is devoted to the description of the native and cultivated plants of the island, with quite a substantial section on animals.

Bibliographical references: Nissen (BBI): no. 155. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: no. 1253. Sabin, Dictionary, 1868-1936: no. 8671.