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Samuel Curtis

Samuel Curtis was a nurseryman, publisher and editor active, particularly in London, England in the 19th century. He was born into a large Quaker family at Walworth, Surrey, England on 22 August 1779.

Curtis was the seventh son of surgeon and apothecary, James Curtis (born 1740, died 1813). His elder sister, Mary (born 1768) was married to the botanist James Maddock, the younger (born 1764, died 1825).

By 1800 Samuel Curtis had acquired Walworth nursery from Goring and Wright. He married Sarah Caustin (born 1782, died 1827) a year later on 18 October. She was the daughter of his first cousin, botanist and publisher, William Curtis (born 1746, died 1799) founder of the Botanical Magazine to which Samuel succeeded as its proprietor. Together Samuel and Sarah had many children. Sarah, however, was not a Quaker and, as a result, the Society of Friends disowned Samuel in 1802.

In 1810 Curtis became a fellow of the Linnean Society and published the second English edition of James Maddox's Florist's Directory. Between 1806 and 1820 he published two of his most noted works A Monograph on the Genus Camellia (1819), dedicated to the Duchess of Norfolk, which included colour plates by Claria Maria Pope, and Beauties of Flora (1806-1820) which included colour plates by Pope and by Thomas Baxter.

From 1816 to 1821 Curtis worked at Clumber Park in Northumberland, England as a land agent to Henry Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle under Lyne, and lived at Gamston Hall in Nottinghamshire, England. In 1821 he moved to Glazenwood, near Coggeshall in Essex, England where he established another, larger nursery specializing in fruit trees and a wide mixture of plants. In 1822 the third edition of the Florist's Directory was published.

According to Ray Desmond, at Walworth Curtis was in partnership with Sturge until roughly 1805 and then Milliken until about 1825. However, the London Gazette of 1809 contains the following entry:

THE Partnership heretofore existing between Samuel Curtis and Ernest Milliken, at Walworth. Florists, is this Day dissolved by mutual Consent: As witness our Hands this 13th Day of June 1809,

Saml. Curtis.

Ernest Milliken.

Soon after 1825 Curtis stopped working at the Walworth nursery. He sold his rights to the Botanical Magazine around 1846 and retired to Jersey, Channel Islands to an estate on Rozel Bay he had purchased, La Chaire–Rozel.

In 1850 he was commissioned to design the first public park in Nottingham, England, the Nottingham Arboretum. Curtis died ten years later at La Chaire–Rozel on 6 January 1860.


Curtis, Samuel, 'Letter from Samuel Curtis, Gamston, Nottinghamshire, to Henry Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle under Lyne, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire; 11 Jul. 1821', The University of Nottingham, Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue, Document Reference Ne C 6308, Reference Number, NeC4667-8778/6308. <'Ne C 6308')> [accessed 24 December 2007]

Desmond, Raymond, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists Including Plant Collectors, Flower Painters and Garden Designers, 2nd ed. (London: Taylor & Francis Inc., 1994), p. 187.

Gould, Jim, 'James Maddock, the Walworth Garden and "The Florist's Directory", Garden History, 19: 2 (Autumn, 1991), pp. 155-162.

Hadfield, Miles, et. al., British Gardeners: A Biographical Dictionary (London: A. Zwemmer, 1980), p. 87.

Jackson, B. D., ‘Curtis, Samuel (1779–1860)’, rev. Alexander Goldbloom, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <> [accessed 24 December 2007]

London Gazette, issue number 16267 (Saturday June 17 to Tuesday June 20, 1809) (pages 889-904, specifically page 897).

The National Archives, National Register of Archives, Person Details, 'Curtis, Samuel (1779-1860) Horticulturist, GB/NNAF/P154452' <> [accessed 24 december 2007]

Nottingham City Council, 'Nottingham Arboretum History and Renovation' <> [accessed 24 December 2007]

Russell, Tony, Angie Petkovic and Derek Harris, 'The Samuel Curtis Garden Project' <>[accessed 24 December 2007]

The University of Nottingham, Catalogue of Estate Papers of the Newcastle Family of Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, 1807-1910 (3rd Deposit) in the Newcastle (Clumber) Collection <> [accessed 24 December 2007]

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