John Martyn (botanist)
Martyn was born in London, the son of a merchant. He attended a school in the vicinity of his home, and when he turned 16, worked for his father, intending to follow a business career. He abandoned this idea in favour of medical and botanical studies. His interest in botany came from his acquaintance with an apothecary, John Wilmer, and Dr. Patrick Blair, a surgeon-apothecary from Dundee who practiced in London. Martyn gave some botanical lectures in London in 1721 and 1726, and in 1727 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
In 1732 he was appointed Professor of Botany at Cambridge University, but, finding little encouragement and hampered by a lack of equipment, he soon ceased lecturing. He retained his professorship, however, till 1768, when he resigned in favour of his son Thomas. On resigning the botanical chair at Cambridge he presented the university with a number of his botanical specimens and books.
John Martyn married Eulalia King, daughter of John King (1652–1732), rector of Pertenhall in Bedfordshire and Chelsea in London. Their son, Thomas Martyn (1735–1825) was also an eminent botanist, author of Flora rustica (1792–1794). After the death of his first wife, John Martyn married Mary Anne Fonnereau, daughter of Claude Fonnereau, merchant of London and Christ Church, Ipswich, and the brother of Thomas Fonnereau.
He is best known for his Historia Plantarum Rariorum (1728–1737, illustrated by Jacob van Huysum), and his translation, with valuable agricultural and botanical notes, of the Eclogues (1749) and Georgics (1741) of Virgil.
With Ephraim Chambers, author of the famous Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, he abridged and translated the Philosophical History and Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, which was published in 1742.
He also started the Grub Street Journal, a weekly satirical review, which lasted from 1730 to 1737.
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1893). "Martyn, John". Dictionary of National Biography. 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 317–9.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Martyn, John". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Thomas Martyn, Some account of the late John Martyn, F.R.S., and his writings. London: 1770.
- Martyn, Thomas. "Memoirs of John Martyn, F.R.S, and of Thomas Martyn, B.D., F.R.S., F.L.S." Edited by George Cornelius Gorham. London: Hatchard and Son, 1830.
- Académie royale des sciences. The Philosophical History and Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. Trans. John Martyn and Ephraim Chambers. 5 vols. London: John and Paul Knapton; Francis Cogan; and John Nourse, 1742.
- "Author Query for 'J.Martyn'". International Plant Names Index.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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