Robert James Petre, the 8th Baron Petre, patron of botany and garden designer, was born at Thorndon Hall, Ingatestone, Essex, England on 3 June 1713. Petre was mainly concerned with the propogation of large numbers of exotic trees and shrubs. By 1742, he had planted 40,000 American trees at Thorndon Hall, Essex. Following a continental tour in 1730 Petre had also amassed a large library of botanical and gardening books, now held in the Sutro Library in San Fancisco, USA. He later worked on other estates in England such as Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and Notley and Gisburn, Yorkshire. Petre died of smallpox on 2 July 1742.