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Mr Thomas Rivers (The First)

Thomas Rivers (1718–1793), known as Thomas Rivers the First, was a pioneering figure in horticulture and a key figure in the development and popularization of fruit cultivation in England during the 18th century. Born in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, Rivers inherited his family's nursery business, which he expanded and transformed into one of the most renowned horticultural enterprises of his time.

Rivers' interest in horticulture was sparked by his family's business, where he learned the fundamentals of plant propagation and cultivation. He dedicated himself to experimenting with various fruit trees, particularly apples and cherries, aiming to improve their quality and yield. His dedication to fruit cultivation led to several breakthroughs, making him a prominent figure in the field.

His nursery in Sawbridgeworth became a hub for innovation, attracting fellow horticulturists and enthusiasts eager to learn from his expertise. Rivers' success was not just in the cultivation of fruits but also in the development of new fruit varieties. His meticulous hybridization and grafting techniques resulted in the creation of numerous apple and cherry varieties renowned for their taste, appearance, and resilience.

One of his most notable achievements was the 'Rivers' Nonsuch' apple, which gained widespread popularity for its exceptional flavour and keeping qualities. His relentless pursuit of excellence in fruit breeding earned him recognition and acclaim in the horticultural community.

Rivers shared his knowledge and findings through various publications, including his influential book "A Dissertation on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees," which became a valuable resource for aspiring horticulturists of his time. His writings emphasized practical advice and techniques for cultivating various fruit trees, contributing significantly to the advancement of horticultural practices.

Thomas Rivers the First passed away in 1793, leaving behind a legacy that revolutionized fruit cultivation in England. His contributions to horticulture continue to impact the field, with many of his fruit varieties still cultivated and appreciated today.


  1. Thomas Rivers and Son Ltd. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from
  2. Morgan, W. (1877). The history of horticulture in America to 1860. Retrieved from

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