John Tradescant the elder
John Tradescant the elder (c. 1570s – 15–16 April 1638), father of
John Tradescant the younger, was an English naturalist, gardener, collector and traveller, probably born in Suffolk, England. He began his career as head gardener to the Earl of Salisbury at Hatfield House, who initiated Tradescant in travelling by sending him to the Low Countriesfor fruit trees in 1610/11. He was kept on by Robert's son William, to produce gardens at the family's London house, Salisbury House. He then designed gardens on the site of St Augustine's Abbeyfor Edward Lord Wotton in 1615-23.
Later, Tradescant was gardener to the royal favorite
George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, remodelling his gardens at New Hall, Essex and at Burley-on-the-Hill. John Tradescant travelled to the Nikolo-Korelsky Monasteryin Arctic Russiain 1618 (his own account of the expedition survives in his collection), to the Levantand to Algiersduring an expedition against the Barbary piratesin 1620, returned to the Low Countries on Buckingham's behalf in 1624, and finally went to Parisand (as an engineer for the ill-fated siege of La Rochelle) the Ile de Rhéwith Buckingham. After Buckingham's assassination in 1628, he was then snapped up in 1630 by the king to be Keeper of his Majesty's Gardens, Vines, and Silkworms at his queen's minor palace, Oatlands Palacein Surrey.
On all his trips he collected seeds and bulbs everywhere and assembling a collection of curiosities of natural history and ethnography housed in a large house, "The Ark," in Lambeth, London. The Ark was the prototypical "Cabinet of Curiosity" [http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kuns/hd_kuns.htm] , a collection of rare and strange objects, that became the first
museumopen to the public in England, the Musaeum Tradescantianum. He also gathered specimens through American colonists, including his personal friend John Smith, who bequeathed Tradescant a quarter of his library. From their botanical gardenin Lambeth, on the south bank of the Thames, he and his son, John, introduced many plants into English gardens that have become part of the modern gardener's repertory. A genus of plants (" Tradescantia") is named to honour him. Tradescant Road, off South Lambeth Road in Vauxhall, marks the former boundary of the Tradescant estate.
He was buried in the churchyard of St-Mary-at-Lambeth, as was his son, which is now established as the
Museum of Garden History.
He is the subject of the novel by
Philippa Gregory, "Earthly Joys".
*Prudence Leith-Ross, "The John Tradescants: Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen", 1984. ISBN 0-7206-0612-8.
*Arthur MacGregor (Editor), "Tradescant's Rarities: Essays on the Foundation of the
Ashmolean Museum", 1983. ISBN 0-19-813405-3.
*Mea Allan, "The Tradescants. Their Plants, Gardens and Museum 1570-1662", London 1964.
*Jennifer Potter, "Strange Blooms: The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants", 2006. ISBN 1843543346
* [http://www.ashmolean.museum/ash/amulets/tradescant/HomePage.html Tradescant Collection at the Ashmolean Museum]
* [http://www.vauxhallsociety.org.uk/Tradescants.html Vauxhall Society]
* [http://www.nynjctbotany.org/plnthunt/plnthunt.html Botany]
* [http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~tasha27/chilham/events/pp2001/Tradescant.html A Chilham garden designed by him]
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