Last updated 22 Dec 2021 in Spear–Johnson Family.
Born: 23 Mar 1698/99 in Darby, Chester County, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
Died: 22 Sep 1777 in Kingsessing Township, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Father: William Bartram (? – 1711)
Mother: Elizabeth Hunt (? – 1701)
Spouse/Partner: Mary Maris (? – 1727)
Married: 25 Apr 1723 in , Chester County, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
Spouse/Partner: Ann Mendenhall (1703 – abt 1784)
Married: 11 Jan 1729/30 in , Chester County, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
Child: Mary Bartram (? – ?)
Child: Elizabeth Bartram (1734 – 1734)
Child: Moses Bartram (? – ?)
Child: Elizabeth Bartram (1739 – 1824)
Child: William Bartram (1739 – 1823)
Child: Ann Bartram (abt 1741 – 1777)
Appointment: (as botanist to King Gorge III) 1765
Residence: 1712 at , , Province of Pennsylvania, British America
General Notes and Anecdotes
When his father left for his travels in 1708, John and his brother James were left in the care of their grandmother, his mother having died shortly after James' birth. It was on these travels that his father was killed at the hands of natives, and is likely a significant reason for his intense, life-long hatred of the Indians. [book-natures-of-john-and-william-bartram (p. 22-28)]
John and his son William reflected two different personalities. John was more scientific, a man of facts and numbers, while William was more artistic, looking more to the romantic side of nature. [book-natures-of-john-and-william-bartram-1996 (p. xvii)]
John was a friend of Benjamin Franklin. [book-encyclopedia-brittanica-15-1979]
In 1743, John was commissioned by the King to visit the tribes of the League of Six Nations, and to explore the wilderness as far north as Lake Ontario. [book-encyclopedia-brittanica-15-1979]
During 1765--1766 he explored extensively in Florida with his son, WIlliam. [book-encyclopedia-brittanica-15-1979]
A genus of mosses are named Bartramia in his honor. [book-encyclopedia-brittanica-15-1979]
Research Notes (Conflicts/Spelling/Followup)
There exists a Quaker marriage record for John Bartram and Mary Maris. Check Ancestry.com database U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, in Pennsylvania 〉 Chester 〉 Chester Monthly Meeting 〉 Certificates of Marriage Record, image 84. This is a good quality color image; there is also a black-and-white image that is difficult to see in another part of the database.
The "John Bartram House and Garden" is listed on the Register of National Historic Landmarks. The formal presentation took place on 8 Jun 1965.
Although he was a farmer in his early life, John became a botanist and horticulturist of international fame, and is regarded as the first native-born North American botanist. He also created what is known as "Bartram's Gardens" which still exists as a botanical garden and museum. (from website: 〈www.bartramsgarden.org〉)
The bulk of his income came from plants and seeds he sold to collectors in Europe. Among those who were patrons are included Sir Hans Sloane (whose collections helped start the British Museum), Queen Ulrica of Sweden, and Carl Linnaeus (developer of the modern system of classification for living things).
John Bartram was a founding member of the American Philosophical Society, created by Franklin in 1743 and founded on the idea of promoting and developing the sciences. John filled the role as the first botonist in the society.
John's attitude toward slavery is somewhat open to interpretation. By Quaker teachings, he should have been against it. However, he did buy slaves for himself and his son William, though he did free at least one despite the financial loss. Records penned by John and those by others have painted a conflicting picture.
He was a good member of the Society of Friends in spite of the disownment of his father, (and the slave ownership mentioned above,) and married both wives within the discipline. However, in 1758 he was disowned, but not for his attitudes toward slavery and the Indians, both of which were out of alignment with the Friends. Rather, he was disowned (after over a year's worth of attempts to dissuade him) on the issue of heresy -- he did not believe in the divinity of Christ. This is interesting, because it was not a new condition and the others should have known about his beliefs for decades.
It is supposed that his death was hastened by his agitation over the approach of British troops leading to the Battle of Brandywine (11 Sep 1777), and his concern that his cherished half-century-old garden might not escape the ravages of the approaching army.
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