On this day in 1747, on the recommendation of Carolus Linnaeus, John Clayton was elected to membership in the Swedish Royal Academy of Science. The clerk of Gloucester County, Clayton was also a tobacco farmer and a botanist who collected plant specimens from around Virginia and sent them to friends like Linnaeus, who named a species of wildflower after him. In 1739, another friend, John Frederick Gronovius, published—without Clayton’s permission—Flora Virginica. It was the first, and until the mid-twentieth century, the only compilation of Virginia’s native plants. In 1773, Clayton became the first president of the Virginian Society for the Promotion of Usefull Knowledge. He died the same year.
PS: We’ve been interested in the “found art” of Google Books of late. After the jump, you can find an excellent example of the art of Archive.org. One of the pages in Flora Virginica just didn’t quite make it through the scanner.
IMAGE: Flower of the Magnolia grandiflora tree, illustrated by Mark Catesby, 1771. Catesby made similar drawings of magnolia species sent to him by Clayton (The Mariners’ Museum).