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Series 16: Letters and plant lists, received by Banks from Christopher Smith, 1795-1801

Provenance note

The documents in this series were previously located at ML A81 and ML A82. They are part of an accession of Banks papers purchased by the Public Library of New South Wales from Sotheby's, London, in May 1929.

It is now not possible to reconstruct Banks' original arrangement, the series has therefore been arranged chronologically.

Background note

In May 1793, Christopher Smith, botanical gardener and collector, was recommended by Sir Joseph Banks to the position of gardener at the Honourable East India Company's botanical garden in Calcutta. Smith, not yet returned to England from the voyage under William Bligh on HM Ships Providence and Assistant, was appointed assistant to William Roxburgh, the superintendent at Calcutta.

In September 1794, Smith, and his assistant Peter Good, left England on board the Royal Admiral with a consignment of plants for the Calcutta gardens. They arrived in February 1795 and immediately began preparing a collection of mainly spice plants, especially clove and nutmeg, for the return voyage. The plants, attended by Peter Good during the voyage, were destined for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Smith held the position of gardener at Calcutta until his death in 1807. During this time he made many useful contributions to the collections of the gardens at Kew.


Collectors and collecting - Botanical