Ref NoMS/322
TitleFamily Correspondence - George Bentham
AdminHistoryGeorge Bentham (1800-1884), CMG, FRS, FLS, was an English Botanist and author of a number of important botanical works.

Bentham was born on 22 September 1800 in Stoke, Plymouth, to Sir Samuel Bentham (1757-1831), a mechanical engineer and naval architect, and Mary Sophia Bentham (née Fordyce) (c. 1765-1858), a botanist and author.

He spent some of his childhood living in Russia and Sweden before his family moved to France in 1814 where his interests in science, philosophy and botany developed. In 1826 the family moved again to London where Bentham began to work for his uncle, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1842), and studied for the Bar. However, his career as a barrister was short lived due to his uncle's disapproval and his preference for Botany. His treatise 'Outlines of a new System of Logic' also achieved little attention due to the publisher going bankrupt and selling only sixty copies.

In 1828 he was elected as a Fellow of the Linnean Society having published 'Catalogie des plantes des Pyrenees' two years earlier, and he also became the Honorary Secretary of the Horticultural Society in 1830. He inherited his father's estate in 1831 and then the property of his uncle in 1832; taking on the responsibility of running his newly acquired estate in Montpellier while still finding time to pursue and discuss his scientific passions, and to translate his uncle's work into French. Bentham married Sarah Brydges (1798-1881), daughter of the diplomat, Sir Harford Jones Brydges, on 11 April 1833, but the two had no children.

He wrote a number of scientific works including 'Labiatraum Genera et Species' (1832-1836) and presented enough collections of plants and botanical books to Kew to fill several railway carriages. His methodical work at Kew encouraged a large number of highly regarded publications such as the 'Flora Hongkongensis' (1861) and 'Flora Australiensis' (1862-1883), on which he worked closely with J. D. Hooker (1817-1911).

One of the largest tasks he also worked on was the formation of the General Herbarium at Cambridge which took ten years to complete. In 1861 he began the Presidency of the Linnean Society, taking on much of the routine work there and overseeing the Society's move from its old quarters at the Royal Academy.

George Bentham died on the 10 September 1884, aged 83.
DescriptionCorrespondence of George Bentham addressed to his family. One group of letters were written when he was a child to family members, including his father (Samuel Bentham), his mother (Mary Sophia Bentham or Lady Bentham), his uncle (Jeremy Bentham), his maternal grandmother (Mrs Fordyce), as well as to Mrs Price. The other group of letters are addressed to his uncle (Jeremy Bentham) and mother (Mary Sophia Bentham).
Extent2 folders
Related MaterialMS/328, MS/666
Creator NameBentham, George (1800-1884)
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