Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks bigraphy, stories - Collectors

Joseph Banks : biography

13 February 1743 – 19 June 1820

Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS (13 February (24 February) 174319 June 1820). Retrieved on 22 June 2013. was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences. He took part in Captain James Cook’s first great voyage (1768–1771). Banks is credited with the introduction to the Western world of the eucalyptus, the acacia, and the genus named after him, Banksia. Approximately 80 species of plants bear Banks’s name. Banks was also the leading founder of the African Association, a British organization dedicated to the exploration of Africa, and a member of the Society of Dilettanti, which helped to establish the Royal Academy.


Banks was a major supporter of the internationalist nature of science, being actively involved both in keeping open the lines of communication with continental scientists during the Napoleonic Wars, and in introducing the British people to the wonders of the wider world. As befits someone with such a role in opening the South Pacific to Europe, his name dots the map of the region: Banks Peninsula on the South Island, New Zealand; the Banks Islands in modern-day Vanuatu; and Banks Island in the Northwest Territories, Canada.

The Canberra suburb of Banks, the electoral Division of Banks, and the Sydney suburbs of Bankstown, Banksia and Banksmeadow are all named after him. Banks also appeared on the Australian currency paper $5 dollar note before it was replaced by the later polymer currency. In 1986 he was honoured on a postage stamp depicting his portrait issued by Australia Post.. JPG image.

In Lincoln The Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory can be found at The Lawn, Lincoln adjacent to Lincoln Castle. The conservatory is a popular tourist attraction with a tropical hot house themed with plants reminiscent of the voyages of its namesake, including many samples of vegetation from across the world, including Australia. There is also a window in Lincoln Cathedral in his honour.

In Boston, Lincolnshire Banks was Recorder for the town and a portrait painted in 1814 by Thomas Phillips was commissioned by the Corporation of Boston, as a tribute to one whose ‘judicious and active exertions improved and enriched this borough and neighbourhood’. It cost them just 100 guineas. The portrait is now hanging in the Council Chamber of the Guildhall Museum.

In Horncastle, Lincolnshire the Sir Joseph Banks Centre can be found. This is a Grade II listed building which was recently restored by the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire to celebrate the life of Sir Joseph Banks. Horncastle is situated only a few miles from his Revesby estate and Banks himself was the town’s Lord of the Manor. The centre is located in Bridge Street, Horncastle, and boasts research facilities, historic links to Australia, and a garden in which rare plants can be viewed and purchased.

At the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show, an exhibition garden celebrated the historic link between naturalist Sir Joseph Banks and the botanical discoveries of flora and fauna on his journey through South America, Tahiti, New Zealand and eventually Australia on Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour. The competition garden was the entry of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Its Australian native-themed design was based on the metaphorical journey of water through the continent based on the award-winning Australian Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne. The design won a gold medal.

In 1911 the London County Council marked Banks’ house at 32 Soho Square, with a blue plaque. This was replaced in 1938 with a rectangular stone plaque commemorating Banks as well as botanists David Don and Robert Brown and meetings of the Linnean Society.



Banks was born in London to William Banks, a wealthy Lincolnshire country squire and member of the House of Commons, and his wife Sarah, daughter of William Bate. Joseph was educated at Harrow School from the age of 9, and at Eton College from 1756; his fellow students included Constantine John Phipps. As a boy Banks enjoyed exploring the Lincolnshire countryside, and developed a keen interest in nature, history and botany. When he was 17 he was inoculated with smallpox, but he became ill and did not return to school. In late 1760 he was enrolled as a gentleman-commoner at Oxford University. At Oxford he matriculated at Christ Church, where his studies were largely focused on natural history rather than the classical curriculum. Determined to receive botanical instruction, he paid the Cambridge botanist Israel Lyons to deliver a series of lectures at Oxford in 1764.John Gascoigne, Banks, Sir Joseph, baronet (1743–1820), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004 .