John Templeton (1766 - 1825):
John Templeton was born in Bridge Street, Belfast, and was educated privately. He was one of the first people to make accurate observations of the plants, animals, rocks and minerals found in the north of Ireland, and he was much concerned about the intellectual progress of Belfast, being a founder member of the Academical Institution.
He was a supporter of the United Irishmen, but became disillusioned by what he saw as a rise in sectarian nationalism. He devoted a great deal of time to the study of botany and the improvement of various species of plants. He laid out an experimental garden at the family estate at Cranmore, near Belfast, and grew many foreign trees, shrubs and flowers from seeds sent by other botanists. He studied, noted and illustrated not only flowering plants, but also algae, fungae, lichens, mosses, geology, meteorology and many aspects of zoology, especially birds, fish and molluscs. His book on the natural history of Ireland was not completed but the illustrated manuscripts of his Catalogue of Native Plants; Hibernian Flora and Hibernian Zoology have constituted invaluable source material.
Many contemporary English botanists have included his work in their publications and a genus of Australian legumes is named Templetonia. He published in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, and his observations on weed control and his description of a new rose (Rosa hibernica) were published by the Dublin Society. Much of Templeton's collection, which was donated to the Belfast Natural History Society Museum, still survives in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. The British Library possesses his manuscript of fungus and lichen drawings. He was an Associate of the Linnaean Society of London and one of the original members of the Belfast Literary Society serving as its Vice-President in 1803-4; he read two papers before the Society, "On natural history" and "On the Lough Neagh whiting" (January and December, 1802). He was the first honorary member of Belfast Natural History Society. He left an unpublished journal covering the years 1806 to 1825. He was the father of Robert Templeton, also a distinguished botanist and zoologist.
A near contemporary said of him: "Thirty years ago his acquirements in the natural history of organized beings rivalled that of any individual in Europe." (Dr Thomas Taylor 1836)
|Died:||15 December 1825|
Centenary Volume of the Belfast Literary Society.
Additional research, Richard Froggatt, 7.4.2014
© 2020 Ulster History Circle