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By the late eighteenth century botany became evermore integrated with university teaching. Nowhere is this better represented than in the University of Cambridge where a new botanic garden was opened in the early 1760s. Designed according to the Linnaean system of classification and occupying the site of the old Augustinian Friary on the edge of the town that the garden occupied until it was moved to its current site in 1846, the botanic garden was not established to support the growing medical departments or cultivate plants deemed useful in commerce. Rather, as this presentation will demonstrate, the Cambridge Botanic Garden was established to support the growing teaching of natural theology, developing a collection designed to show and order the extent of God’s creation to a student body destined to become Anglican priests across Britain and its rapidly expanding empire. Through examining the activities of Thomas Martyn (1735–1825), third Professor of Botany at Cambridge and a succession of curators, the paper will explore the motivations for founding a botanic garden at the University of Cambridge, the development of the site, the growth of a global collection, the development of an advanced means for recording and ordering a continue influx of plants from around the world and the use of the garden as a teaching resource. 

Edwin Rose is currently Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded research project 'Natural History in the Age of Revolutions, 1776–1848' based in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and the Advanced Research Fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge. Before this, Edwin completed his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science Department in 2020 with a thesis entitled 'Managing Nature in the Age of Enlightenment: The Practice of Natural History in Britain, 1760–1820' covering topics ranging from James Cook's voyages to the Pacific to Thomas Pennant's construction and distribution of the great British Zoology. Since then, Edwin has been Munby Fellow at Cambridge University Library (2020-21) exploring the colonial and religious history of the Cambridge Botanic Garden and a postdoctoral researcher for Darwin College, Cambridge (2021-22) undertaking a project on the Darwin family's relationship with Cambridge between the 1750s and 1950s. Aspects of Edwin's research on the practices of natural history in the British empire (c.1760-1820) have been adapted to form a book currently under contract with the University of Pittsburgh Press. 

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but booking is required.