John Tradescant the Younger

John Tradescant the Younger
John Tradescant the Younger.jpg
John Tradescant the Younger, attributed to Thomas de Critz
Born4 August 1608
Died22 April 1662
Scientific career
Author abbrev. (botany)Trad.

John Tradescant the Younger (/trəˈdɛskənt/; 4 August 1608 – 22 April 1662), son of John Tradescant the Elder, was a botanist and gardener. The standard author abbreviation Trad. is applied to species he described.


Son of John Tradescant the Elder, he was born in Meopham, Kent, and educated at The King's School, Canterbury. Like his father, who collected specimens and rarities on his many trips abroad, he undertook collecting expeditions to Virginia between 1628 and 1637 (and possibly two more trips by 1662, though Potter and other authors doubt this). Among the seeds he brought back, to introduce to English gardens were great American trees, including magnolias, bald cypress and tulip tree, and garden plants such as phlox and asters.

John Tradescant the Younger added his American acquisitions to the family's cabinet of curiosities, known as The Ark. These included the ceremonial cloak of Chief Powhatan, an important Native American relic. South Lambeth Road in Vauxhall was one of the boundaries of the Tradescant estate, where the collection was kept and Tradescant Road was laid out after the estate was built on in the 1870s and named after the family.

When his father died, he succeeded as head gardener to Charles I and Henrietta Maria of France, making gardens at the Queen's House, Greenwich, designed by Inigo Jones, from 1638 to 1642, when the queen fled the Civil War. He published the contents of his father's celebrated collection as Musaeum Tradescantianum—books, coins, weapons, costumes, taxidermy, and other curiosities—dedicating the first edition to the Royal College of Physicians (with whom he was negotiating for the transfer of his botanic garden), and the second edition to the recently restored Charles II. Tradescant bequeathed his library and museum to (or some say it was swindled from him by) Elias Ashmole (1617–1692), whose name it bears as the core of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford where the Tradescant collections remain largely intact.

He was buried beside his father in the churchyard of St-Mary-at-Lambeth which is now established as the Garden Museum.

He is the subject of the novel Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory, sequel to Earthly Joys about his father.

The standard author abbreviation Trad. is applied to species he described.

Marriages and issue

  1. Jane Hurte, died 1634
    1. John, died age 19
    2. Frances, married Alexander Norman
  2. Ester (Hester) Pooks



  1. ^ Anon. "Baptism of John Tradescant, Meopham Parish Church, 4 August 1608". Medway City Ark Document Gallery. Medway Council. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  2. ^ Moore, James J. (1878). The historical handbook and guide to Oxford: embracing a succinct history of the university and city from the year 912. Thomas Shrimpton and Son. ISBN 1437309445. The Tradescant Collection was the most popular and curious show of the day, and attracted many visitors. It was named the Museum Tradescantianum, or Tradescant's Ark. Elias Ashmole lodged with Tradescant at Lambeth, and Tradescant bequeathed the Museum to him. When Ashmole gained possession of the Museum he added many varieties to it, including coins, MSS., medals, paintings, and the Library of Lilly, the celebrated astrologer, which he purchased for £50. Ashmole was the son of a saddler at Lichfield, born, according to his own statement, at near half an-hour after three o'clock in the morning, on the 23rd day of May, 1617. He was successively a solicitor in Chancery, an attorney in the Common Fleas a gentleman in the Ordnance (when Oxford was garrisoned by a royal army), an exciseman, a freemason, astrologer, botanist, chemist, anatomist, physician, and a learned herald. Heraldry seems to have been his forte, and astrology his foible. He was the author of the History of the Garter In 1669 he received the honour of "Doctor of Phisick" at Oxford, the diploma bemg presented by Dr. Yates, Principal of Brasenose College.

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