Bartram. I. John, an American botanist, born at Marple, Delaware county, Penn., in 1701, died in September, 1777. His grandfather was one of the companions of William Penn. He himself supported a large family by his industry as a farmer; but by unremitted application he mastered the rudiments of the learned languages, and made such proficiency in botany that he was pronounced by Linnauis the greatest natural botanist in the world. He made excursions through many regions of North America at a time when they were covered with forests, and he was the first to describe particularly their natural productions. In 1743 he visited the shores of Lake Ontario, and in 1765 explored the region of the river St. John's in Florida; and in both of these excursions he collected many beautiful plants and trees, which he sent to enrich the gardens of Europe. He was supplied by Linnaeus, Sir Hans Sloane, and others, with books and apparatus, and he in return sent them specimens of new and curious American plants. He founded on the bank of the Schuylkill, a few miles below Philadelphia, the first botanic garden in America, where he cultivated beautiful and rare American and exotic plants.
At the time of his death he was a fellow of several foreign learned societies, and bore the title of American botanist to George III. of England. He published an account of his observations during his travels, and contributed to the British "Philosophical Transactions "several papers on scientific subjects. See "Memorials of John Bartram and Humphrey Marshall." by Dr. William Darlington (Philadelphia, 1849). II. William, son of the preceding, born at Kingsessing, Penn., in 1739, died July 22,1823. He commenced life as a merchant, but accompanied his father to East Florida and settled on the banks of the river St. John's. In 1771 he returned to Kingsessing, but in 1773, at the request of Dr. Fothergill of London, he made a second scientific journey to Florida, and also to the Carolinas and Georgia. The narrative of his expedition, under the title of "Travels through North and South Carolina, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc," was published in Philadelphia in 1791, and in London in 1792, and again in 1794 with illustrations (French translation by P. V. Benoist, 2 vols., Paris, 1801). One of his essays, written in 1789, was published in 1853, in vol. iii. of the "Transactions of the American Ethnological Society," under the title of "Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians." In 1782 he declined the chair of botany in the university of Pennsylvania, on account of his impaired sight.
He made known and illustrated many of the most curious and beautiful plants of North America, and published the fullest list of American birds previous to Wilson, whom he greatly assisted at the outset of his labors.