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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Forsyth, William (1737-1804)


Reference code(s): GB 0068 FOR

Held at: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Title: Forsyth, William (1737-1804)

Date(s): 1765-1804

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 8 volumes

Name of creator(s): Forsyth | William | 1737-1804 | horticulturist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Forsyth was born at Old Meldrum, Aberdeen in 1737 and died on the 25 July 1804 in his home in Kensington, London. During his career he worked as a head gardener at Syon House, Brentford from 1763 until 1771 when he became head gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden; where he continued to work until 1784. The rest of his life was spent working as superintendent of the royal gardens of the Palaces of St James' and Kensington. Whilst working in the royal gardens, Forsyth also developed and promoted his own 'plaister', which was a paste that he claimed would bind together old wood and help new wood to grow.

Forsyth also wrote two volumes OBSERVATIONS ON DISEASES, DEFECTS AND INJURIES IN ALL KINDS OF FRUIT AND FOREST TREES (1791) and TREATISE ON CULTURE AND MANAGEMENT OF FRUIT-TREES (1802). Later editions of his treatise were created following his death, with the later being the seventh edition published in 1824. He was a Fellow of both the Linnean Society and the Society of Antiquaries and was also involved with the creation of the Royal Horticultural Society.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of William Forsyth, 1765-1804, comprising a large amount of correspondence (1765-1804), most of which was sent to Forsyth from correspondents living both in England and abroad, including a volume of letters from Alexander Anderson. Also included are four volumes of horticultural notes and annotated drafts (1789-1804) made by Forsyth together with some correspondence; which were presumably created when he was creating his two volumes, OBSERVATIONS ON DISEASES, DEFECTS AND INJURIES IN ALL KINDS OF FRUIT AND FOREST TREES (1791) and TREATISE ON CULTURE AND MANAGEMENT OF FRUIT-TREES (1802).


Language/scripts of material: English, French

System of arrangement:

This collection consists of two series: FOR/1: Correspondence, FOR/2: Horticultural Notes. The arrangement of this collection is simple with two series as described above. All the material within the collections has previously been bound into volumes and it is presumed that this in some way relates the original order of the material, when it was in use however there is no information on this subject to confirm or deny this.

Conditions governing access:

Unrestricted - surrogates to be used where available.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue available, contact the archives for more details.


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Details of the custodial history of this collection and how it came to arrive in the archives at RBG Kew are unknown.



Archivist's note: Entry transcribed by Sarah Drewery, March 2011.

Rules or conventions: General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2011


Personal names

Corporate names