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date: 24 August 2019


  • David Rodgers


English family of gardeners and collectors. John Tradescant the elder (b London, 1590s; d Lambeth, 1638) was gardener in turn to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, Edward, 1st Baron Wotton (1548–1626), George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and Charles I. In 1611 he travelled in France and the Low Countries, collecting plants for Salisbury; it was probably on this journey that he also began to collect ‘curiosities’. In June 1618 he travelled to Russia in the suite of Sir Dudley Digges (1583–1639), the Ambassador to Russia, returning the following September; his diary of this voyage (Oxford, Ashmolean) records, inter alia, his acquisition of a coat from Greenland made of fish entrails. In 1626 Tradescant bought a house in South Lambeth where he established his renowned ‘Closett of Rarities’, enhanced by gifts from Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria, Buckingham and William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. His son, ...

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