Peter Collinson

Peter Collinson was an English Quaker merchant, a woollen draper, botanist, patron of plant collectors and an author, active in the 18th century. He was born in London, England in 1694, the son of Peter Collinson, a London cloth merchant, and his wife, Elizabeth Hall.

Until 1749 Collinson had a garden at Peckham, London. He later settled at Ridgeway House, Mill Hill, London where he formed a botanic garden in which he grew many North American trees.

Collinson is particularly noted for his many introductions, or reintroductions, of species, especially those which he derived, with the help of the plant collector John Bartram (born 1699, died 1777), from the North American colonies with which Collinson often traded in seeds, trees and plants. Collinson also received plants and seeds from many other parts of the world including Russia, China and Europe and was a member of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society.

Collinson died at his estate at Mill Hill on 11 August 1768 and was buried at the Quaker burial ground in Long Lane, Bermondsey, London.

Sources:

Chambers, Douglas D. C., ‘Collinson, Peter (1694–1768)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) < http://oxforddnb.com/view/article/5964 > [accessed 3 March 2008 ]

Desmond, Ray, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists (London: Taylor & Francis, 1994), p. 161.

National Portrait Gallery, London, Search the Collections, 'Peter Collinson (1694-1768), Naturalist and Antiquary' http://www.npg.org.uk [accessed 25 September 2008]

National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, 'Peter Collinson (1694-1768) Naturalist Antiquary, GB/NNAF/P128852' http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk [accessed 25 September 2008]

Further reading:

Armstrong, Alan W., ed., "Forget not Mee & My Garden..." Selected Letters 1725-1768 of Peter Collinson, F.R.S., (Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society, 2002)