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(1608 – 1662)

(Born: Meopham, Kent, England, 4 August 1608; Died: South Lambeth, Surrey, England, 22 April 1662) English antiquarian.

Like his father, he was steadfast in his attachment to the established church, and also like his father, Tradescant was a skilled gardener. He did make three expeditions to Virginia, and he collected specimens, especially plants, while he was there.

Gardener to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1638-42 (when the Queen fled the Civil War). Tradescant succeeded his father. His status appears to me as a perfect embodiment of the ambiguity of patronage relation. From his father he also inherited the museum, which continued to be run as a commercial enterprise. After the Parliamentary victory and the termination of his relation with the court, the museum was Tradescant's principal means of livelihood. There is evidence that he functioned as a merchant in overseas trading during the late 50's.

Queen Henrietta Maria. Add that Tradescant dedicated the second edition of Musaeum Tradescantianum, 1660, to Charles II, and that when an official tried to make Tradescant get a license to operate the museum, Charles gave him a warrant to proceed without one. Possibly Elias Ashmole should be mentioned here. He financed the publication of Musaeum in 1656. However, the conventional wisdom (which is supported by considerable evidence) is that Ashmole was then already scheming to get the collection into his own hands. Tradescant dedicated the first edition to Musaeum to the President and Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians. Tradescant was growing medicinal plants for the college at this time and was negotiating with them over the establishment of a physic garden.

Biographical references: DNB: 19, 1072-4. Leith-Ross, P., The John Tradescants: Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen. London, 1984. Rimbault, E.F., "Family of the Tradescants", Notes and Queries, 3, (1851), 353-5. Singer, S.W., "Tradescants and E. Ashmole", Notes and Queries, 5, (1852), 367-8 & 385-7.

Musæum Tradescantianum, 1656

1. English, 1656 [Collection catalog].
Musæum Tradescantianum: | Or, | A Collection | Of | Rarities. | Preserved | At South-Lambeth neer London | By | John Tradescant. | [rule] | [ornament] | [rule] | London, | Printed by John Grismond, and are to be sold by | Nathaneal Brooke at the Angel in Cornhill, | M. DC. LVI.

8°: π2 a4 B-??; 98l.; [12], 1-179, [4] p., 3 plates (2 portraits by Wenceslas Hollar; one armorial plate). Page size: 146 x 84 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [1 pg], Dedication.; [1 pg], Blank.; [8 pgs], "To the Ingenious | Reader."-signed John Tradescant.; [2 pgs], "A view of the whole." [=contents].; 1-179, Text.; [1 pg], blank.; [4 pgs], [Index?].

Rare, but exceptionally so with two portraits. This is the first catalog of what was far and away the largest and most comprehensive collection of its day in England, which forms the foundation of the Ashmolean natural history collection. The first portion of the book (pp. 1-72) contains lists of the natural history and artificial objects, which is followed by a catalogue in English and Latin of the plants in the garden, which includes the `Catalogus Plantarum' (pp. 73-178).

The text of the lists is divided into 13 sections describing: (1) various kinds of birds, eggs, beaks, feathers, claws and spurs, (2) four-footed beasts, including hides, horns and hoofs, (3) fish and aquatic animals, (4) shell creatures, including univalvia and bivalvia, (5) insects and snakes, (6) minerals and fossils, including earths, corals, salts, bitumens, and choicer stones and gems, (7) exotic fruits, nuts and woods, (8) mechanical artificial works such as carving, turnings, sewings and paintings, (9) other types of rarities, (10) European and Asian weapons, (11) garments, vestures, habits, ornaments, (12) utensils and household items, and (13) coins both ancient and modern.

The collection was originally formed by the senior Tradescant who opened it to the paying public as `The Ark.' Ultimately it was bequeathed to the younger, who kept it open to the public and eventually published this catalog, which is the first museum catalog published in the English language. In general the collection follows the idealized pattern described by Samuel Quiccheberg. Eventually, John the younger made a gift of the collection to Elias Ashmole [see note below]. However, the gift was retracted a few years later, and the collection was instead gifted to Tradescant's wife, stipulating that she leave it to either Oxford or Cambridge. However, after Tradescant the younger's death, Ashmole successfully brought suit against his widow to regain the collection. In 1677, when Ashmole bequeathed his collections to Oxford, the Tradescant cabinet was included, and the remains may still be seen there today.

John Tradescant, Sr. (Born: Probably Suffolk, England, c1587; Died: South Lambeth, Surrey, England, 15/16 April 1638) English naturalist. Tradescant was steadfastly orthodox in his religious connections. The two John Tradescants, father and son, were skilled gardeners with minimal claims to be considered scientists. However, the elder John Tradescant collected everything curious in natural history-minerals, birds, fish, insects, as well as coins, medals, and miscellaneous curiosities. He published, Plantarum in horto Johannum Tradescanti Nasentium Catalogus (London, 1634). As gardeners, he and his son introduced a number of new plants into England.

There is some evidence that he was gardener to William Brooks at Cobham Hall before 1600. Certainly he had established his reputation as a gardener by 1610 when Salisbury began to employ him. Gardener to the Earl of Salisbury, 1610-14, (mostly at Hatfield, but also at Cranborne in Dorset and at Salisbury House in London) with the high salary of £50. If the salary sounds like ordinary employment, the additional gifts, such as £100 in 1612, sound like patronage. This was Tradescant's first documented employment. Salisbury sent him on expeditions to the continent to purchase vines, trees, plants, and flowers for Hatfield House. Salisbury (Robert Cecil) died in 1612; Tradescant continued with the heir until 1614-15. Gardener to Edward Lord Wotton at Canterbury in Kent, c.1615-23. During this time he joined Sir Dudley Digges' embassy to Russia as a botanist, and brought home some plants. In 1620 he joined an expedition against the Barbary corsairs. Gardener to the Duke of Buckingham, c.1624-8. He accompanied Buckingham's expedition to La Rochelle in 1628. Buckingham arranged for Tradescant to hold the sinecure of yeoman garnetter at the Whitehalff granary (which I categorize as patronage). By the time of Buckingham's assassination, Trandescant had acquired enough to be financially independent. He set up a garden and museum (called the Ark) in South Lambeth, 1628. This was run as a commercial enterprise, with a fee to enter. It appears that he also ran the garden as a commerical nursery.

Gardener to Queen Henrietta Maria with a salary of £100 (very high for a gardener), 1630 until his death. He continued to operate his own establishment in South Lambeth, and there is some evidence that he functioned as a consultant on gardens to various aristocrats associated with the court. He was appointed keeper of the new physic garden at Oxford in 1637 (£50), and held the position until his death.

Elias Ashmole. (Born: Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, 23 May 1617; Died: South Lambeth, near London, 18 or 19 May 1692) English antiquarian. Ashmole had legal training in London, 1633-8, he then studied at Oxford in 1645. He left without a degree, however. In 1669, Oxford conferred an M.D. on him. About 1660 he became primarily an antiquarian. He published quite a few books in that area and gathered a collection that he gave to Oxford, along with Tradescant's collection. A royalist in the Civil War, he was appointed by Charles I to collect the excise in Staffordshire in 1644. Appointed commissioner, receiver and registrar of Excise of Worcester, 1645. Controller and assistant master of Ordnance in Worcester, 1646. With the Restoration Ashmole's fortunes really looked up. He was appointed Comptroller and Auditor of the Excise and continued with the Excise until his death. Charles also appointed him Windsor Herald in the same year 1660. He was also appointed Secretary and Clerk of the Courts of Surinam. The process is unclear but Ashmole clearly charmed circles of gentry and nobility. Note his success during the early fourties when Ashmole successfully insinuated himself into royalist circles in Oxford. Ashmole was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1661, but he was not active in it.

Bibliographical references: Balsiger, Kunst und Wunderkammern, 1970: 474-8. BL [1651/1622.]. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 273. Madan, Oxford Books, 1895-1931: no. 2292. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 40, 196 & 226. Wing: T-2005. Wood, Literature of Vertebrate Zoology, 1931: p. 600. (Tradescant, Sr) DNB: 19, 1070-2. Leith-Ross, P., The John Tradescants: Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen. London, 1984. Rimbault, E.F., "Family of the Tradescants," Notes and Queries, 3 (1851), 353-5. Singer, S.W., "Tradescants and E. Ashmole," Notes and Queries: 5 (1852), 367-8 & 385-7. Watson, W., "Some Account of the Remains of John Tradescant's Garden at Lambeth," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 46 (1752), 160-1. (Ashmole) Ashmole, E., The Diary and Will of Elias Ashmole. Oxford, 1927. Balsiger, Kunst und Wunderkammern, 1970: 68-71. Catalogue of Portraits of Naturalists: 128 [2 portraits listed]. DNB: 1, 644-6. Flower, W., Essays on Museums and other Subjects connected with Natural History. London, 1898: 4-5. Josten, C.H., ed., Elias Ashmole, Oxford, 1966, 5 vols. [Vol. 1 contains a biography]. Singer, S.W., "Tradescants and E. Ashmole," Notes and Queries: 5 (1852), 367-8 & 385-7.

2. English, 1660 [2nd edition].
Musæum Tradescantianum: | Or, | A Collection | Of | Rarities. | Preserved | At South-Lambeth neer London | By | John Tradescant. | [rule] | [ornament] | [rule] | London, | Printed by John Grismond, and are to be sold by | Nathaneal Brooke at the Angel in Cornhill, | M. DC. LX.

8°: [20], 1-179, [4] p., 3 plates (2 portraits by Wenceslas Hollar; one armorial plate).

Very rare. When Charles II was restored to the throne, Tradescant reissued the work with an altered title page and a new dedication, "To The | Sacred Majesty | Of | Charles the II. | By the Grace of God | King of England, Scotland, | France and Ireland, Defender of | the Faith, &c. | John Tradescant, | His Majesties most obedient | and most Loyal Subject, | In All Humility | Offereth these Collections." The previous dedication, `To the College of Physicians', was hastily excised.

Bibliographical references: BL [no copy listed].