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Howard, John Elliot (1807-1883)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0068 JEH
Held at: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
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Full title: Howard, John Elliot (1807-1883)
Date(s): 1836-1951
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 Series; 74 files
Name of creator(s): Howard | John Eliot | 1807-1883 | quinologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Eliot Howard (1807-1883), quinologist, was born on 11 December 1807 at Plaistow, Essex, the youngest of three children of Luke Howard (1772-1864), meteorologist and chemist, and his wife, Mariabella, née Eliot (1769-1852). Both parents were members of the Society of Friends. With the exception of two years at Josiah Forster's school, Howard was educated at home. Apprenticed to his father's chemical business at Stratford in 1823, he was made a partner of the firm in 1828. In 1830 he married Maria (1807-1892), daughter of William D. Crewdson of Kendal. The couple moved into a substantial house in Tottenham, Middlesex, where they had five daughters and four sons.

As early as 1827 Howard showed interest in what would prove to be his life's work: the extraction of the anti-malaria drug quinine from the bark of the Cinchona (cinchonaceae) genus of South American tree. His first paper, a report on the collection of cinchona in the British Museum made by the Spanish botanist José Pavón (1754-1840), was published in 1852. In the following year Howard joined the Pharmaceutical Society, and in 1857 the Linnean Society. In 1858 he purchased Pavón's manuscript 'Nueva Quinologia' and his specimens of cinchona. Howard employed a botanical artist and published the well-received Illustrations of the 'Nueva Quinologia' of Pavon and Observations on the Barks Described in 1862. Howard's second major work, The Quinology of the East Indian Plantations (1869-76), was the result of his examination of the bark of all the forms of cinchona introduced into India from the Andes by Clements Markham, Richard Spruce, and Robert Mackenzie Cross. For this Howard received the thanks of her majesty's government in 1873. In 1874 his citation for election as a fellow of the Royal Society recognized the importance of his work: 'the name of Mr Howard is inseparably connected with his lifelong investigation respecting the identification and chemistry of the cinchona' (Kirkwood and Lloyd, 1).

Howard took considerable interest in gardening, and especially in hybridization as bearing upon cultivated cinchonas, and he was the author of numerous scientific papers, chiefly on quinine. He also gave addresses on both science and revelation at the Victoria Institute, of which he was a vice-president. Howard and his wife were both deeply religious and had been raised as Quakers. In 1836 they resigned from the Society of Friends and became Baptists. Howard published several religious tracts and was instrumental in establishing the Brook Street Chapel, Tottenham. He died at his house, Lord's Meade, Tottenham, on 22 November 1883, and was buried in Tottenham cemetery. The genus Howardia of the Cinchonaceae was posthumously dedicated to him.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of John Eliot Howard, 1836-1951, comprising three series. The first series (JEH/1/1-JEH/1/48) contains handwritten correspondence and papers between 1836 and 1884. The second series (JEH/2/1-JEH/2/21) contains Press cuttings, Reports and other Publications from between 1856-1951. The third series (JEH/3/1-JEH/3/5) contains Illustrations, Photographs, Botanical bookplates and glass negatives from the 19th Century.

The bulk of material is correspondence to JE Howard regarding Cinchona, mainly in the form of scientific discussion and research, collection and donation of specimens, and scientific and commercial exploration. It dates from the early to late 19th century. The correspondence is international. It includes some documents relating to the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and it's museum collections (For example, correspondence from Joseph Ince and Daniel Hanbury, and formal acknowledgements for specimens donated by Howard to the Society's Museum. - see list for details.) There is also printed material, ranging from newspaper cuttings, journal and periodical articles to East India Company reports and printed records.

This archive includes correspondence with Charles Ledger, Clements Markham, G M McIvor, John Broughton and others, letters to John Elliot Howard from the Directors of Kew Gardens: Thistleton Dyer and Joseph Hooker.

This archive contains important information about the international network of botanists and commercial explorers in the field. It contains particularly strong information on the growing of Cinchona in India.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, French, Dutch, Spanish

System of arrangement:

This material has been re-boxed, but original box grouping has been retained where possible. In particular, JEH/1/35-JEH/1/45 were originally filed alphabetically, this order has been preserved. N.B. JEH/1/35 (originally filed under 'A') not only contains correspondents and subjects beginning with the letter 'A', but also unsorted, loose material which was in the original box.

Conditions governing access:

This collection is subject to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew's standard access and reproduction conditions. Access is unrestricted and by appointment but will be subject to the conditions of the Data Protection Act. Reproduction information is available on request.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue available, contact the archives for more details.

Archival Information

Archival history:

In 1996, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) began sorting its archival holdings with the assistance of an archives consultant. Late in 1999, the museum staff found 6 box files of mostly manuscript material in an office cupboard that had not been viewed as part of this archive work. The files contain a significant amount of material, much manuscript, mostly relating to John Eliot Howard (1807-1883). Some items were added in 1884, after Howard's death, and some publications were added by the RPSGB up to 1951. None of the material was catalogued by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain although a basic handlist was provided.

Immediate source of acquisition:

On 18 April 2002, the Archive was deposited by Janet Foster, an archival consultant, in the Archive of Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, on behalf of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The accession number is PrP 02-0003. In September 2006 the material was fully catalogued for the first time. Kew Archive holds ownership and management of the collection.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

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

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